Chapter 19: Ultimate Hurricane

Seven Sins

 

kiva-vi-lionKamen Rider Kiva bashed his knee upside the Fangaira’s head. The monster stumbled backward but stood its ground.

 

The monster looked lion-like. His body, armor and face resembled stained glass, colored shades of green and yellow. A white mane covered his head. He called himself Fang Lion.

 

“You dare attack me?” the monster growled. “I am a member of the Royal Court!”

 

“Your status has no meaning here,” Kiva said as he pounced.

 

The Rider hopped with a sidekick aimed towards the monster’s chest. But the monster grabbed the Rider’s leg, swung him overhead, and bashed him against the ground.

 

“I slayed the entire Wolven race of the Shotaro Dimension.” The monster stomped the fallen Rider with a burst of spark. “Do you honestly believe you are a match for my strength?”

 

Suddenly, darts of hydro energy bolted through the air and sparked against the monster, knocking him back several steps.

 

The monster growled with annoyance and looked to see Hurricane Blue run to the scene, along with Hurricane Yellow and Navy Thunder.

 

The Blue Ranger placed her right fist against her left palm. “Water darts!”

 

She swung her hand forward and fired another wave of hydro darts. The darts blasted against the monster with sparks that tore across its armor.

 

Navy Thunder shot forward. “Lightning blades!”

 

Short daggers of crackling, navy-tinted lighting thrust from his fists. He dove at the monster and stabbed the blades against its chest with massive bursts of spark and lighting that hurled the creature through the air.

 

Hurricane Yellow leapt at the monster while in midair.

 

“Lion barrage!” he shouted as seismic energy crackled around his fists.

 

He smashed a flying uppercut against the monster, knocking him further upward, and then bashed a second flying uppercut against the monster. The Yellow Ranger twisted while in midair and swung his leg through a streak of yellow energy. He kicked the monster with a powerful force that shot him to the ground.

 

Fang Lion crashed against the ground as the Yellow Ranger landed and regrouped with his teammates.  

 

The monster stumbled slowly to his feet. “You took me by surprise. That will not happen again, when next we meet…”

 

He stepped backward through a multi-colored distortion as he teleported away.

 

Hurricane Blue ran to Kiva’s side and helped him to his feet. “I thought I said you could call us if you ran into trouble.”

 

“I did not want to bother you,” Kiva said.

 

“Who was that guy?” Hurricane Yellow asked. “He seemed a bit more chatty than your typical stained-glass freaks.”

 

“No offense to stained-glass freaks,” Navy Thunder said.

 

Kiva nodded. “He was a member of my brother’s Royal Court. If he and the other Royals are in this dimension…I don’t believe my power alone can stop them.”

 

“That’s why you have us,” Hurricane Blue said.

 

“I appreciate that,” Kiva said. “More than you will ever know. You have helped me slay many Fangaira. But we cannot always be together for every battle. You face multiple enemies, on multiple fronts. I need to become stronger.”

 

“You work on that,” Navy Thunder said. “In the meantime, we’re standing out in the open.”

 

“Right,” Hurricane Blue said. “Let’s go before-”

 

Silver Guardian sirens blared in the distance.

 

“Come on,” Hurricane Blue said as she, the Rangers and Kiva leapt to the rooftops.

 

***

 

Simon, Zadie and Eiji crouched on a rooftop that looked down upon the bar where the Seven Deadly Sins made their home.

 

Eiji shook his head. “I can’t believe we’re actually coming back here.”

 

Zadie arced an eyebrow. “You weren’t technically invited.”

 

“You think I can just go on my way after what you told me about Azmodai wanting to crack open the Dark One’s prison?” Eiji asked. “I can’t let you two handle this alone and screw up.”

 

“Your confidence in me means everything,” Simon said sarcastically.

 

Zadie unsheathed her knife. “Let’s just get to the fun part…I owe Lust big time.”

 

“What happened?” Eiji asked.

 

“She bashed Zadie’s face against a table,” Simon said.

 

Eiji snickered.

 

Zadie lifted her dagger. “Don’t laugh at the girl carrying the knife.”

 

Below, the last of the bar patrons staggered outside just before closing hour.

 

“That’s the last one,” Simon said.

 

“You sure?” Zadie asked.

 

Simon nodded. “Everyone left inside is possessed.”

 

“How many?” Eiji asked.

 

“About a half dozen, along with the Sins,” Simon said. “Nothing we can’t handle. Let’s move.”

 

Simon leapt downward, and Zadie and Eiji followed.

 

***

 

Saitan, the Demon of Wrath, sat at the bar alongside Asmodanna, the Demon of Lust. Lust dressed like a waitress with a short-cut blouse and short skirt that left little to the imagination. Wrath wore standard street clothes, but looked like he could have been a soldier, with a strong build and ice-cold stare.

 

“Have you heard the latest?” Lust asked as she traced her fingers across his shoulder.

 

Wrath nodded. “One of the Forsaken believes he’s learned a way to break the Second Seal.”

 

Suddenly, the door burst into pieces of wood and splinters that rained through the bar. Several demons ducked for cover as Simon stepped in, followed by Zadie and Eiji.

 

The lesser demons ran to escape through the rear exit as soon as they spotted the ranger and hunters. But Simon extended his hand, made a fist, and grasped them all with his power.

 

Simon turned his fist, which ripped the demons from their host bodies. The demons streaked through smoke that twirled around Simon and seeped into his skin, deep into his soul. 

 

He released his fist. “Hi,” Simon said. “I’d like to make a service complaint.”

 

Wrath didn’t bother getting up from his stool. Nor did he turn to face the ranger. “Back so soon?”

 

“Turn around,” Simon said. “I want you to see what’s coming.”

 

Hmph,” Wrath snorted. “Foolish child. Greed? Kill him, and his morpher’s yours.”

 

The Demon of Greed named Mammon, a punk with gold chains, grinned with delight and charged towards the three teens.

 

Simon armed his morpher. Ninejetti change! Ha!” Wisps of black wind circled around him as he morphed into his Black Ranger form.

 

Hurricane Black unsheathed his sword and shot forward. The Ranger chopped his blade towards the Demon of Greed.

 

Greed lifted his arm — his thick skin could stop any knife or blade…but not Hurricane Black’s sword, which slashed off the demon’s limb.

 

Greed screamed with pain and staggered backward.

 

Hurricane Black spun forward and stabbed his sword through the demon’s gut. His blade glowed with black energy and sucked the demon from the man. Once inside the blade, the demon’s energy flowed into the Ranger’s body.

 

The Black Ranger pulled his sword free, and the dead host body slumped to the ground.

 

The Demon of Sloth, Belphegor, grumbled with annoyance. “You’re making a mess again…”

 

The dirty, bulky man smashed his fists against the floor with a shockwave that nearly knocked the Black Ranger off his feet.

 

But Hurricane Black jumped, somersaulted through the air, and bashed a flying sidekick against the demon’s chest. The blow shot the demon backward with the speed and force of a cannonball. He crashed through the bar and skid across the street outside.

 

Sloth sighed, more with annoyance than pain, as he pushed his bulky body to his feet. “Such as pain…”

 

He looked up just as Hurricane Black’s sword blurred through the air and sliced off his head.

 

The Black Ranger tightened his fist to rip the demon from his host. The demon burst through the gaping neck wound with a streak of black smoke, which the Black Ranger absorbed through his extended palm.

 

Sharp tendrils of shadow energy suddenly shot through the air and stabbed towards the Black Ranger. Hurricane Black flipped aside as the tendrils continued to strike at him.

 

The tendrils came from the Demon of Pride named Lucypher, who possessed an arrogant teenage boy. The demon extended his shadow into multiple blades that lashed out with lightning-quick speed.

 

Meanwhile, back in the bar, Eiji dashed aside to avoid a charge by the fat Demon of Gluttony named Belzebub. Gluttony missed Eiji. But the fat demon twisted and swung the back of his fist. The blow snapped Eiji off his feet, knocking him across the bar.

 

Eiji crashed onto his back. And Gluttony leapt through the room and landed on top of the hunter.

 

The demon leaned and opened his slobbery jaw, inches from Eiji’s face. Eiji pressed the demon’s face to try pushing him away, but he couldn’t make the demon budge. Gluttony snapped his massive jaws at the hunter.

 

Eiji narrowed his eyes. Ketsu!

 

A small barrier formed in Gluttony’s mouth, and the demon chomped on the barrier hard enough to crack a tooth. He screamed and stumbled backward. “Ah! My tooth!”

 

Eiji rolled to his feet and swung his staff into a fighting position.

 

Meanwhile, Zadie dashed towards the Demon of Lust named Asmodanna. “Payback time, bitch.”

 

Zadie swung her knife. But Lust dodged and roundkicked Zadie in the face. The blow whipped her from her feet, and she crashed against a table that splintered to pieces beneath her weight.

 

The Demon of Envy named Levytan, a dumb-looking juicehead, lifted Zadie from behind and held her in a headlock.

 

Lust pounced and kicked Zadie’s gut, then bashed a palm-heel in the hunter’s face.

 

***

 

Kiva joined Blake, Rachel, Justin, Tommy and Ashley in Ops. Ashley studied an image of Fang Lion on her monitor.

 

“So what is it this Royal Court has planned?” Ashley asked.

 

“They wish to revive my father,” Kiva said.

 

“I thought you said he wasn’t dead?” Tommy asked. 

 

“He is not,” Kiva said. “But they refuse to believe that. They are…foolish.”

 

Justin shrugged. “So what will this ceremony of theirs accomplish if your dad’s not really dead?”

 

“Besides rip through the fabric of space/time and wipe out half the city in the process?” Kiva asked. “Very little.”

 

“Hey, I think that was an attempt at humor,” Blake said. “Not bad.”

 

The alarms suddenly blared. Ashley’s monitor showed an image of Fang Lion attacking a group of people in the New Hope outdoor shopping mall, which opened several months after the Second Countdown to Destruction in Angel Grove North.

 

Rachel shook her head at the sight of the attack. “He recovered that fast?”

 

“He is powerful,” Kiva said.

 

“Let’s move,” Blake said as he, Kiva, Justin, and Rachel bolted out the door.

 

***

 

Fang Lion thrust his palm and fired a wave of green flame that washed across the street. He laughed with amusement. He hated the boredom of waiting for his fellow Royal Court members to finish preparing their ceremony.

 

So he devised a game: Set a time limit. Kill as many people as possible within that time limit. Fail, and he’d subject himself to electric shocks. Win, and he’d award himself with the greatest pleasure of the mortal’s dimension: ice cream.

 

Explosions sparked against Fang Lion and knocked him off his feet. The monster crashed against the ground and rolled into a fighting stance. He looked up to see Navy Thunder, Hurricane Yellow, Hurricane Blue and Kamen Rider Kiva dash to the scene.

 

The monster snarled. “You’ve surprised me…I didn’t think you would fall for so obvious a trap.”

 

A wave of crimson energy washed across the street and splashed against the Rangers and Kiva with bursts of spark that hurled them through the air. They slammed against walls and parked cars before crashing to the ground.

 

kiva-vi-mio_pearlshellKamen Rider Kiva pushed himself to his feet and looked up to see Fang Pearl stalk towards him. A member of the Royal Court, she wore armor like stained glass colored various shades of blue. A single pearl sat in the center of her otherwise featureless face.

 

“You…” Kiva started to say.

 

But Fang Pearl extended a hand and fired another wave of crimson energy from her palm. Kiva jumped straight upward, and the energy wave past beneath him while exploding through a parked car.

 

“Hello, Kiva…” Fang Pearl said. “You have squandered your title.”

 

Kiva landed in a crouched position. “So I’ve been told.”

 

He leaned forward and charged at Fang Pearl. The Rider lunged with a flurry of punches that bashed her chest. Each blow knocked her back a step. But then she easily started swatting his punches aside.

 

The monster bashed a kick against Kiva’s chest, knocking him backward. She grabbed Kiva by the neck, lifted him off his feet and bashed him against the ground. The impact crumbled pavement.

 

Nearby, the three Power Rangers climbed to their feet and regrouped.

 

But a truck suddenly shot through the air like a cannonball and smashed them backward. The flying car crashed the Rangers against a building and exploded with a massive burst of flame and scrap metal.

 

The three Rangers crashed against the street, knocking loose their armor with flashes of light.

 

Blake groaned and pushed himself slowly to his feet. “I’d say I felt like we just got hit by a truck…but that’s a bit too literal.”

 

He helped Rachel to her feet, and Justin climbed up next to her. They looked to see another Fang monster stalk onto the scene.

 

kiva-vi-swallowtailThe monster looked bull-like, with various shades of stained glass embedded in dark brown leather. He called himself Fang Horn, the third member of the Royal Court.

 

Blake sighed. “I say we surrender and move to Florida.”

 

“There’s sun there,” Rachel said. “You hate the sun.”

 

“OK, Russia,” Blake said. “Cold air. Gray skies. Makes Angel Grove look downright cheerful.”

 

Fang Horn grabbed a parked car and hurled it at the rangers.

 

The teens dove aside just in time to miss the car, which exploded against a building behind them. The shockwave knocked them forward, and they skid across the street.

 

***

 

The Demon of Pride named Lucypher extended his shadow into multiple blades that lashed out with lightning-quick speed.

 

Hurricane Black flipped backward through the air to avoid the tendrils. While in midair, he snapped a volley of throwing stars from his bracer.

 

Pride snapped his shadow tendrils to whip the throwing stars aside.

 

Hurricane Black landed in a crouched fighting stance. He channeled shadowy fire through his sword. “Do you really think those attacks will work on me?”

 

The Black Ranger swung his sword through a streak of shadowy power. “Ebon blade!”

 

The sword fired a blade of black energy that ripped through Pride’s shadow tendrils and tore through his gut. The demon staggered backward and opened his eyes wide with shock and pain, just before his body fell into two pieces.

 

Hurricane Black thrust his palm forward and used his Kiryoku to absorb the demon from its dead host. 

 

Back in the bar, Eiji smacked his staff across Gluttony’s head. But the demon barely felt the blow. Eiji swung again. But Gluttony caught the staff, tore it from the hunter’s grasp, and threw the weapon across the room.

 

Eiji cursed beneath his breath. “Was that really necessary?”

 

He leapt onto a nearby table, pushed off and jumped over Gluttony.

 

Eiji landed off balance and tumbled across the floor. But he skid close enough to his staff to grab the weapon.

 

Gluttony leapt from the floor like a flying blob and aimed a belly-slam towards the fallen hunter.

 

Eiji rolled onto his back and lifted his staff. Ketsu!

 

A blue cylinder of energy snapped around Gluttony in midair. The demon bashed against the inside of the barrier, which discharged with tendrils of power that thrashed across the bar.

 

Metsu!

 

The barrier collapsed with a burst of blue fire that blasted Gluttony across the room. He crashed through the rear of the bar and into the kitchen, smashing a stove with his bulk.

 

The barriers could easily kill lesser demons. But the Seven Deadly Sins possessed more power than typical demons.

 

Gluttony staggered to his feet, injured from the blast.

 

Eiji gave the demon no time to recover. The hunter charged across the bar while holding his staff back.

 

He thrust his hand forward, index and middle finger pointed at the demon. Hoi! Joso!

 

A blue ring of energy etched across the floor around Gluttony.

 

Eiji thrust his hand upward. Ketsu!

 

A cylinder of blue energy thrust from the ring and snapped around the demon. Gluttony tackled the inside of the barrier, which discharged with blue lighting.

 

Metsu!

 

The barrier collapsed with a burst of blue fire that blasted Gluttony across the kitchen. The demon crashed through a wall and into the dark alley outside.

 

Eiji rushed towards the opening. Ketsu!

 

A blue barrier formed around Gluttony just as he pushed himself to his feet.

 

Eiji leapt forward, landed on top of the barrier, and slammed his palm against the cylinder. The barrier crackled with lighting that tore through the alleyway.

 

Metsu!

 

The barrier collapsed with a massive shockwave of blue flame that washed through the alleyway and into the streets. The blast incinerated the Demon of Gluttony, and its host collapsed lifelessly to the ground.

 

Eiji landed next to the fallen demon and twirled his staff into a defensive stance. “Okay, that took way too long…”

 

***

 

Fang Lion smashed the back of his hand across Kiva’s head. The blow knocked the Rider back several steps.

 

Fang Pearl extended her hand and blasted the Rider with a wave of crimson energy. The blast sparked against Kiva’s armor and hurled him through the air.

 

The Rider landed near Blake, Justin and Rachel, who could barely rise to their feet.

 

Fang Horn stalked towards the fallen teens.

 

“Kiryoku!” a voice shouted from the rooftops.

 

An invisible force blasted Fang Horn off his feet, and he crashed near his two comrades.

 

From above, a figure jumped from the rooftops and landed between the teens and monsters. The new arrival snapped into a fighting stance to face the Fangaira.

 

He was Kou.

 

He glanced over his shoulder to the other rangers. “Man…you guys suck.”

 

“Shouldn’t you be wallowing in self-loathing?” Blake asked as he and the others climbed to their feet.

 

“That got old,” Kou said.

 

He pulled out his sphere-shaped morpher. “Tenku!” He brought the morpher to chest level. “Ninjetti Change!” He thrust the sphere forward. “Ha!”

 

Green energy twirled around him like a cyclone as he morphed into his armor. He snapped into a fighting stance as the energy of his Animal Spirit surged through every aspect of his being.

 

“Power of Sonic! Hurricane Green!”

 

The Green Ranger unsheathed his sword, which spoke: “Let’s go, Kou!”

 

Blake looked to Rachel. “Did his sword just talk?”

 

The Green Ranger dashed back and forth around the Fangaira while swinging his blade through streaks of green energy. The strikes slashed the monsters with bursts of spark before they could defend themselves.

 

The three creatures dropped to their knees as smoke sizzled from their stained glass bodies.

 

Hurricane Green skid to a halt. He swung his sword into a reverse grip so that the pommel — Byakko — faced the enemy. The Green Ranger placed his hand over the pommel.

 

“Slashing sound wave!” Hurricane Green shouted.

 

Byakko howled, and waves of green, sonic energy slashed through the air. The sonic waves rippled like blades of green-tinted wind and blew past the monsters, slashing them with bursts of spark that hurled them through the air.

 

From behind the Green Ranger, Blake, Justin, and Rachel armed their morphers.

 

“Senpu…”

 

Gorai…”

 

“Ninjetti change! Ha!” Energy twirled around them as they morphed into their armor.

 

Hurricane Green led the charge as he, Hurricane Yellow, Hurricane Blue, Navy Thunder and Kamen Rider Kiva rushed to attack before they lost the upper hand.

 

A wave of blue energy suddenly cut across the pavement, separating the Rangers from the Fangaira. The energy wave twirled around the three monsters and distorted, teleporting them away.

 

***

 

The energy distortion whisked the three members of the Royal Court to a rooftop several blocks away. They crashed onto the roof and looked up to see the stained glass form of their master, Saga.

 

Fang Pearl, Fang Lion and Fang Horn kneeled before the prince.

 

Saga glared at his subjects.

 

“What were you three doing?” Saga demanded.

 

“Sire…” Fang Lion said. “We grew…bored.”

 

Saga narrowed his eyes with contempt. “Bored?”

 

He kicked Fang Lion upside the head, smashed an elbow against the back of Fang Horn’s neck, and back-hand slapped Fang Pearl across the face.

 

“Bored?! Where is your loyalty to my father?” Saga shouted.

 

Fang Pearl dared to lift her head. “We cannot perform the ceremony until the night of the next full moon.”

 

“But we must be ready before then,” Saga growled. He smacked the back of his hand across her face. Then again a second time.

 

Saga grew tired of the mortal’s dimension. Their emotions — impatience, doubt, anger — plagued him like a disease. He missed the purity of his own dimension. And he hated the mortal realm for making him feel such longing.

 

“I cannot afford to lose a single one of you in battle,” Saga said. “I have warned you…You may torment my brother all you wish. But do not engage the Rangers. Do you understand?”

 

The Royal Court dared say nothing.

 

“Good,” Saga said. “Now we finish our preparations. When my father returns, he will deem me his favorite, and denounce the name of his precious Kiva. That title will then belong to me…”

 

***

 

The Rangers and Kiva regrouped around Hurricane Green.

 

“Kou…” Hurricane Blue said. “Are you back for good?”

 

“Looks that way,” Hurricane Green said.

 

“Kou!” Byakko shouted. “Don’t be so aloof! Enjoy this moment!”

 

“It is talking…” Navy Thunder said. “Why is that, exactly?”

 

Hurricane Green lifted the pommel of his sword. “Guys…this is Byakko. He was my enchanted Tiger Saber when I was the White Ranger. Now he’s…well, he’s back. I’m still torn as to whether that’s a good thing; it really depends on his mood.”

 

“Introductions can wait, Kou,” Byakko said.

 

“You just told me to enjoy the moment,” Hurricane Green said.

 

“Yes, well…” Byakko said. “Enjoy the moment somewhere else. We must speak with the Dragon Ranger.”

 

“Who?” Hurricane Yellow asked.

 

“Tommy,” the Green Ranger said.

 

“Oh yeah,” Hurricane Yellow said. “It’s hard to keep all this straight.”

 

“He’s allowed himself to become too distracted,” Byakko said of Tommy. “We must regroup and shift our focus to the Dark One and his Forsaken.”

 

“The Forsaken?” Hurricane Blue asked.

 

“They’ve plotted from the shadows since the Sabbath,” Byakko said.

 

Hurricane Green nodded. “It might already be too late to stop them from breaking the Second Seal.” 

 

***

 

Zadie twisted free from Envy and bashed a kick upside his head. She lunged and thrust her knife through his chest. The blade glowed with fiery light that sizzled through the demon’s body.

 

But Envy pulled the blade free, tossed it across the bar, and slammed the back of his fist across Zadie’s face. The blow whipped her across the bar, and she crashed through a table.

 

Lust charged at the fallen hunter. But a barrier of blue energy sprang from the floor and blocked her path.

 

From the kitchen entrance, Eiji thrust his hand forward and pushed the barrier back, plowing Lust and Envy to the other side of the bar.

 

Eiji ran to Zadie and helped her stand. 

 

“Hey,” he said.

 

“Hey?” she asked. “Seriously?”

 

“I don’t like banter,” Eiji said.

 

“Good, because you suck at it,” Zadie said. “Where were you?”

 

“Taking care of Gluttony,” Eiji said.

 

Zadie walked over and picked up her knife. She turned towards the barrier, where Lust and Envy waited on the other side.

 

“Drop it,” she said. “Let’s get this done…”

 

Eiji dropped the barrier.

 

Lust and Envy immediately pounced towards the hunters. 

 

“Got a plan?” Eiji asked.

 

“Do I ever?” Zadie said.

 

They dove to opposite sides as the demons passed between them. Eiji rolled into a crouched stance and twirled his staff into a defensive position.

 

He thrust his hand towards the demons, pointing his index and middle finger. Ketsu!

 

A cylinder of energy surrounded the demons.

 

Metsu!

 

The barrier imploded with a burst of blue fire that blasted the demons across the bar.

 

Eiji nearly collapsed but leaned on his staff for support. He breathed heavily as exhaustion washed through his body. “I can’t…I can’t do that again.”

 

“That’s not what I needed to hear right now,” Zadie said as she armed her knife.

 

Lust leapt onto the bar, pushed off and jumped towards Zadie.

 

Zadie hurled her knife, and the blade stabbed the demon in the face. Zadie leapt forward, kicked against Lust while grabbing the knife, and flipped backward while tearing the blade free.

 

The hunter landed, spun forward and slashed Lust across the throat. Fiery light sizzled around the wound and beneath the demon’s skin. She stumbled backward and collapsed to her knees.

 

Suddenly, Envy tackled Zadie and pushed her to the ground. The demon leaned over the hunter and grabbed her in a chokehold.

 

Zadie stabbed the demon in the arm. The blade sizzled with fiery light. But Envy didn’t flinch.

 

Nearby, Eiji grasped his staff to climb to his feet. He saw Envy grab Zadie in a chokehold. And he watched Lust climb to her feet.

 

The hunter cursed beneath his breath. He knew what he had to do. He dropped his staff and reached towards the dark power twirling within him — power he spent his life trying to avoid.

 

He grasped onto the power and felt nauseated. The taint coursed through his veins and caused a wave of vertigo that nearly knocked him from his feet. But he stood. He stood because he had no choice.

 

Eiji smashed his palm against the ground and sparked tendrils of power that lashed through the bar. The lightning stabbed through Lust and Envy and hurled them through the air.

 

Their bodies burst into flame and disintegrated with a flash of shadow that clouded the room.

 

The energy discharge overwhelmed Eiji with a wave of vertigo, and he collapsed to all fours. He breathed deeply as his heart pounded in his chest. The darkness threatened to overwhelm him, so he reached out and grabbed his staff.

 

Zadie ran to his side. She looked down at him and narrowed her eyes. She never saw him use such power before. “What was that?”

 

“I’ll tell you later,” Eiji said as he leaned on his staff and pushed himself to his feet. “Come on…Wrath’s still out there.”

 

***

 

Wrath armed twin, slender swords and walked slowly towards Hurricane Black.

 

Hurricane Black stood in a defensive stance with his sword held back.

 

Wrath smiled mockingly. “You’ve caused quite a bit of trouble here today, Ranger.”

 

“I’m glad you’re amused,” Hurricane Black said.

 

“Of course you are,” Wrath said. “Now power down your armor.”

 

“Why would I do that?” Hurricane Black asked. 

 

“You wish to see if you’ve truly become strong?” Wrath asked. “Power down your armor.”

 

The Black Ranger rolled his hands into fists. Shadow pulsed around him as he powered down his armor. Simon narrowed his eyes. “Better?”

 

Wrath smirked. “Much.”

 

The demon lunged and twirled his swords through strong and graceful slashes. Simon dodged, taken aback by the demon’s speed and strength. He didn’t think the muscular man could move so fast.

 

The teen dodged a swing while stepping closer to the demon.

 

“Wind palm!”

 

He charged his hand with black wind energy and smashed a palm-heel strike against Wrath’s chest. Wrath staggered backward, and Simon lunged.


“Whirling knuckle!”

 

He charged his knuckles with black air and punched Wrath across the face. The blow sent Wrath staggered backward, but he managed to stay on his feet.

 

The demon smiled and wiped black blood from the corner of his mouth. “You’re full of rage, dripping with evil.”

 

“Rage isn’t evil,” Simon said.

 

“It is when hardened into hatred and contempt,” the demon said. “It blackens the spirit.”

 

Simon charged to attack. He launched a spinning axe kick Wrath ducked to avoid. The demon spun and slashed towards Simon’s head. But Simon ducked, moved in low, and punched Wrath in the gut.

 

The ranger shot upward with a flip kick that bashed Wrath upside the head. The blow whipped the demon off his feet, and he crashed against the ground.

 

Wrath laughed as he used his sword for balance to climb back to his feet.

 

Simon slapped his right fist against his left palm. He summoned a ring of flame that surrounded Wrath.

 

Wrath smiled mockingly. “Clever…” he said as he held his sword over his shoulder. “Is this supposed to keep me from-

 

“Wind scythe jutsu!” Simon shouted. 

 

The circle of flames spun and twirled into a tornado that whipped Wrath into the air. Waves of wind blew towards him like blades, and the blades slashed through his body like a rag doll, splattering black blood and ichor onto the pavement. The winds cut through flesh and muscle and sliced bone.

 

The winds died, and Wrath fell downward. He crashed against the street with an impact that shattered his bones. 

 

Simon stalked towards his fallen foe.

 

Wrath spat up blood and pushed himself slowly to his knees. He looked up, weakly, as his body waned. He could barely lift his head.

 

“You embody us well,” Wrath taunted as he breathed heavily. “You lust and hunger for power. You envy those stronger than you. You pride yourself a hero, and you let your anger guide you. All the while you let your spirit and soul succumb to sloth.”

 

The demon looked up and smiled arrogantly. “Go on…I fear nothing. We will live on through you.”

 

Simon lifted Wrath’s sword from the ground, glared at the demon, and chopped off his head. 

 

He used his free hand to suck the black smoke from the fallen body. The smoke twirled around Simon’s fist and arm, and then plunged through his chest with a flash of black light.

 

The teen staggered backward but kept his balance. He breathed a puff of mist and relaxed his muscles, dropping Wrath’s sword.

 

He heard footsteps from behind and sensed Eiji and Zadie walk towards him.

 

“How does it feel?” Eiji asked.

 

“Fine…” Simon said as he stared at the fallen host of Wrath. “I’m fine.” He turned to face his companions. “That was the last one. I’m ready now.”

 

Suddenly, they heard slow clapping come from the shadows, the type of slow, clap, clap, clap, meant for mocking.

 

They looked and saw a young man in a black jumpsuit step from the darkness. Simon opened his eyes wide with surprise.

 

“You…”

 

“It’s been a while, Red,” said Ryan, the former Yellow Gao Ranger. 

 

“Yellow…” Simon said. “Ryan…what are you doing here?”

 

“You haven’t exactly been following the rulebook you wrote a few years back.”

 

Simon’s eyes betrayed his sorrow at the memory. The memory of a simpler time, when he’d just became the Red Gao Ranger, and the fight between good and evil seamed straightforward, honorable, and alluring.

 

“I was naive back then” Simon said.

 

“You still are if you think you can pull off what you’re doing,” Ryan said. “I was hoping I could talk some sense into you…but after what I just saw…”

 

Ryan pulled a cellphone-styled device from his pocket and flipped it open. He pressed three keys on the device, which spoke: “STANDING BY…”

 

To be continued…Chapter 20