Ultimate Samurai: Chapter Twenty-seven prologue

 

Angel Grove, one night ago

 

Tommy and Ashley sat alongside each other in front of the Ops computer terminal. They studied readouts of their latest new villains: Kiros of the Vorlock and Serrator of the Gedoushuu.

 

Ashley sighed as they studied the monitor. “We’re going to have to go through this with every new villain, aren’t we?”

 

“Hopefully there won’t be that many,” Tommy said. “But yes. Until we find out who the Forsaken are, we need to check out everyone who pops up unexpectedly.”

 

Tommy and Ashley learned recently that the Forsaken, followers of the Dark One, likely infiltrated various groups of enemies. They didn’t know which groups, but they needed to find out before the Forsaken broke the Second Seal to the Dark One’s prison.

 

Ashley shook her head. “We can’t keep doing this.”

 

“It won’t be forever,” Tommy said. “We’ll find them and stop them.”

 

“No,” Ashley said. “I mean us. We can’t keep doing this. Finishing school, taking care of Tyler and the dojo, supporting two Ranger teams. Where do we fit into all of that?”

 

“I know things haven’t been easy-”

 

“I know,” she said. “And I know I’m being selfish right now…but I think we’ve both earned a moment of selfishness. We’ve been engaged for how long?”

 

“Almost four years…”

 

“Right,” Ashley said. She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Tommy. I didn’t mean to snap.”

 

“No, I’m sorry,” Tommy said. “I guess we’ve been so caught up in things…we haven’t really talked about you and me in a while.”

 

“And I know now isn’t the time,” Ashley said. “But…”

 

“But what?” Tommy asked.

 

 “I’m worried that if we don’t make the time…it’s not going to happen,” she said. “If we don’t make our relationship a priority…it won’t be. It just won’t.”

 

***

 

Juzou stood on a mountain in his human form. He carried his temporary sword — a broader blade and pale imitation for his true weapon.

 

He heard footsteps come from behind and turned to see Serrator walk alongside Kiros.

 

The Vorlock smiled and kneeled. “My prince...even in this form, I recognize you. Your strength resonates as brightly as ever.”

 

“I remember you,” Juzou said. “But I am not your prince. Not really.”

 

“But you will be again…” Kiros said. “I promise you that…”

 

Chapter 27: Ultimate Samurai

No Closure

 

Teddy leaned against a tree in the Hayate Way courtyard as he sat alongside Ryan. They stared ahead aimlessly, saying nothing for the longest time, and simply taking comfort in each other’s company.

 

Teddy was the first to break the silence. “Glad to have your sight back?”

 

“Glad to have my mind back,” Ryan said.

 

“At least you didn’t hurt anyone,” Teddy said.

 

Ryan nodded. “What do you think happened to those kids?”

 

“I don’t know,” Teddy said. “Hopefully they made it away from the Vorlock. Went into hiding.”

 

“Hopefully,” Ryan said. “I wish we could have done something more for them.”

 

“We didn’t even know they existed,” Teddy said. “I wish we had more answers. To everything.”

 

“Me too…” Ryan said. He leaned his head back, and they sat in silence.

 

***

 

The remote island Monalua sat miles off the coast of California. The resort island served as a destination spot for the rich and wealthy to vacation and hide from the realities of the world — realities they chose to ignore.

 

Serrator kneeled on a grassy mountain near the center of the island. He whispered an incantation in front of a fire pit, as Nanashi sat in rows to his right and left.  

 

The villain laid several jars of incense around the fire pit, next to scrolls etched with demonic symbols.

 

Serrator started placing the scrolls into the fire pit as he chanted. The fire burnt the scrolls to ash, and the ash floated upward in a column, spinning and twirling on artificial wind.

 

The ash spread and began to float across the entire island.

 

***

 

An older man named Sean walked from a luxurious home on the island while carrying a tennis bag and rackets. He smiled arrogantly, as always, free from the burdens of the world.

 

“Sean!” a woman called from behind him. “You forgot your water bottle.”

 

She caught up to him and handed him the bottle, which he stuffed into his bag.

 

“Thanks,” he said. “I’m glad you’re good for something…”

 

She narrowed her eyes. “Was that really called for?”

 

“Look, just go back home and take care of the brat kids, okay? I have better things to do with my time.”

 

Ash fell slowly from the sky like black snow, which began to blanket the sidewalks. Pieces of ash fell onto Sean’s shoulders and head, as well as the woman’s.

 

The woman wiped an ash from her cheek, and she narrowed her eyes with anger.

 

“Is that all I am to you?” she asked. “Some whore?!”

 

She slapped his face, and slapped him again. Sean grabbed her by the wrist and pushed her to the ground.

 

“Touch me again and see what happens!”

 

Ash fell across the rich and wealthy, triggering their anger and removing their inhibitions. Women smashed their bags across their husband’s heads. Men pushed their wives and mistresses to the ground. They screamed and shouted as they chased each other with lustful hatred.

 

***

 

Serrator waved his hands over the fire pit as the ash continued to rise and spread.

 

The villain lowered his hands as he finished his spell. “All that’s left is for the fire to continue to burn…” He stood and folded his arms across his chest. “I would humbly ask of you three to make sure the flames don’t extinguish.”

 

Nearby, Juzou stood along with Kiros and Dayu. They said nothing, but Serrator knew they would obey.

 

***

 

Teddy and the Samurai team gathered in Ops along with Tommy and Ashley. Ashley pulled up a map of Monalua on the main screen.

 

“That’s the island?” Bradin asked. “I’ve never heard of it.”

 

Anthony arced an eyebrow. “You’ve never heard of Monalua?”

 

“I’m from Kansas,” Bradin said.

 

“It’s not that well known of a place anyway,” Tommy said. “It’s never attracted much attention, especially not from anything Ranger related, which is why what’s happening now is odd.”

 

“What’s going on?” Teddy asked.

 

Ashley pulled up a secondary image showing a complete lack of communication signals. “Earlier today, all communication to and from the island, and on the island itself, stopped. No calls. No texts. No data usage.”

 

Tommy nodded. “A friend of mine named Maya has some connections with an organization called Section 31. They tried to investigate, but their signal dropped an hour ago. After they were attacked. By the townspeople.”

 

“You’re thinking it’s a spell?” Anna asked.

 

Tommy nodded. “I want you guys to check it out.”

 

“This is probably the closest we’ll get to a vacation,” Bradin said. “Isn’t it?”

 

“Basically,” Tommy said. “Just be careful…”

 

***

 

The rangers arrived at the docks of the island resort. Deserted ships floated in the bay. Storefronts sat empty. The teens saw no one. 

 

“Seems normal enough,” Bradin said.

 

“There’s no one here, Bradin,” Teddy said.

 

“Yeah, but if something went wrong, you’d think there’d be more of a mess,” Bradin said.

 

Anna shook her head. “No, something definitely went wrong.”

 

“Should we split up and investigate?” Anthony asked.

 

“Yeah…” Teddy said. “Let’s break into pairs. But everyone stay in contact.”

 

The Rangers split into three groups of two and spread out.

 

***

 

Teddy and Anna walked along a street that led up a hill. They noticed a purse on the ground, and boards covered several windows of the surrounding homes.  

 

They heard creaking noises come from a few of the houses. They looked to see drapes and curtains snap shut.

 

***

 

Anthony and Bradin walked down a landscaped path on the other end of the resort. They saw no one, and heard nothing — not even an insect.

 

Anthony shivered. “I think Anna’s right. Something is definitely wrong with this place…”

 

Suddenly, a small rock smacked Bradin in the back. “What the…” He leaned down and picked up the rock. “Someone just threw a freaking rock at me.”

 

“I don’t see any-”

 

Pebbles and rocks started arcing from the trees and pelting the two rangers.

 

***

 

Ryan and Kirsten walked down a wooded path. Kirsten looked through the trees for any signs of life.

 

“This is so weird…” she said. “There aren’t any animals or anything.”

 

“I know,” Ryan said. “We should probably-”

 

Suddenly, they heard rustling in the bushes ahead. They looked to see a young boy rush from the bushes and run away.

 

“Hey, come back!” Ryan shouted as they ran after him.

 

The rangers caught up with the boy, and Ryan grabbed him from behind.

 

“Help!” the boy shouted. “Help, somebody help!”

 

It’s okay, it’s okay,” Ryan said. “We’re not going to hurt you.”

 

The boy relaxed as he started to catch his breath. Ryan let go of the boy and leaned down next to him. Kirsten smiled reassuringly and did the same.

 

“We’re friends,” she said. “Can you tell us what happened here?”

 

***

 

Teddy and Anna walked through the town and up a grassy hill. They heard rustling from the tall grass behind them, and they looked to see a man and a woman stagger onto the path. They looked tired and paranoid. Splotches of ash dotted their faces, and they each carried a broken stick they held like a club. 

 

“They’re after us…” the woman said. “They’re after us! You brought them here!”

 

“No!” the man shouted. “No, it wasn’t!”

 

Anna knitted her brow quizzically. “What’s wrong with them…?”

 

The man and woman charged at the two rangers. They swung their clubs wildly and loose, as the rangers easily dodged.

 

Anna grabbed the woman by the wrist and twisted her into an arm lock. But the woman broke free and swung her club back and forth to try swatting the ranger. Anna dodged each swing.

 

The man swung his club at Teddy. Teddy sidestepped, and the man’s momentum carried him forward so that he tumbled and nearly fell.

 

The attacker stayed on his feet and snapped around while swinging his club at Teddy.

 

The ranger smacked the club out of the man’s hand.

 

***

 

Bradin and Anthony ran down a road as a truck chased after them. The passengers of the truck hurled stones at the rangers, who tried to find a place to duck for cover.

 

“Great vacation,” Bradin said sarcastically.

 

The two rangers turned and ran off the road, but the truck followed them over the grass.

 

***

 

Teddy’s communicator toned. He opened a commline and chopped a knife-hand strike against the back of the man’s neck, knocking him to the ground. Anna did the same to the woman.

 

Ryan spoke through the communicator. “I think we know what’s happening,” he said. “The people here started to change when this black ash appeared.”

 

“Black ash?” Teddy asked. He looked to the back ash on the fallen attackers.

 

“Right,” Ryan said. “If that stuff gets on you, it drives you crazy.”

 

***

 

Bradin and Anthony dove through bushes, rolled across the ground, and sprinted away from the truck. They looked to see the truck plow through the bushes and head away, having lost sight of them.

 

Anthony flipped open his communicator and tied into the open commline.

 

***

 

“The back ash is coming from the mountain in the center of the island,” Ryan said as he stood alongside Kirsten and the boy.

 

“Okay,” Teddy said through the communicator. “Everyone regroup on that mountain.”

 

“We’re on our way,” Ryan said as slapped his communicator shut.

 

They heard rustling come from the trees behind them, and they turned to see Dayu walk into the clearing. She held a slightly curved blade and traced her finger across its edge.

 

“Samurai Rangers…” she said. “How nice of you to find this little island.”

 

The two teens snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Dayu…” Ryan said.

 

***

 

Bradin and Anthony lowered their communicators.

 

Suddenly, they heard laughter come from a nearby pathway. They looked to see Serrator step through a cloud of mist.

 

“Welcome to my first level of hell…” the villain said, his voice thick with maddened amusement.

 

Bradin narrowed his eyes. “Serrator…”

 

***

 

Teddy stood frozen in shock as he looked ahead. He couldn’t believe his eyes and would have rubbed them, but he felt paralyzed. Anxiety clutched his throat and threatened to choke him.

 

He saw Bryce, in his human form, walk alongside Kiros.

 

“That’s not…That’s not possible,” Teddy said.

 

Kiros smiled at the sight of the ranger’s discomfort. “Did you really think my prince would be that easy to kill?”

 

“Bryce…” Teddy whispered.

 

Juzou shifted to his demon form with a flash of purple fire. He carried a blade that looked similar to his old sword, only broader. 

 

“Red Ranger…” Juzou said. “It seems our fated duel was destined to continue…”

 

Teddy narrowed his eyes. He didn’t have time to deal with Bryce — no, Juzou. Not now. He armed his morpher, and Anna did the same.

 

“Samurai scribe! Ha!”

 

***

 

Bradin and Anthony faced off with Serrator.

 

Anthony narrowed his eyes at the villain. “What have you done to these people?”

 

“Made them into something…sweet,” Serrator said. “Ripened their paranoia and despair. Their hatred and contempt. Their surging emotions will flood the Sanzu River.”

 

“That’s not going to happen,” Bradin said.

 

“But it will,” Serrator said. “And you too will fall into my hell.”

 

The villain threw a handful of ash at the rangers. The ash landed against their clothes and faces as they coughed and staggered backward.

 

Bradin wiped ash from his forehead and breathed deep. He felt panic surge through his body. The teen looked to his fellow ranger and glared.

 

“Anthony…You planned this, didn’t you? To get rid of me?”

 

“Me?” Anthony asked. “You never wanted me on this team. You think I’m a threat to you. You have since day one…”

 

Anthony armed his blade and unsheathed the dagger.

 

Bradin lifted his Spin Sword.

 

Serrator watched with a growing sense of glee. “By all means…go ahead. Fight till you can fight no longer…”

 

Energy twirled around Serrator like a cyclone as he teleported away.

 

Bradin and Anthony pounced at one another. And their blades clashed with a burst of spark.

 

***

 

Samurai Blue and Samurai Yellow attacked Dayu from both sides. But she swung her dagger with deadly precision and grace. Her blade parried their blows and slashed their armor with bursts of spark.

 

Samurai Blue swung a diagonal slash. But Dayu blocked the blow, spun, and slashed the Blue Ranger aside before parrying a strike from Samurai Yellow. Dayu knocked the Yellow Ranger’s sword aside and slashed her with a burst of spark.

 

The boy they had rescued watched from nearby. Determined, he rushed forward, lifted a stick, and swung at Dayu. The stick cracked in half against her body.

 

“You brat!” Dayu shouted as she lifted her dagger to strike.

 

Samurai Yellow dove and tackled the boy to the ground to protect him.

 

Dayu chopped her dagger at the fallen Ranger and child. But Samurai Blue dashed forward, blocked the blow, and side-kicked the villain backward.

 

Samurai Yellow stood and looked to the boy. “Run. Hurry.”

 

The boy turned and ran from the scene.

 

Samurai Yellow turned back towards Dayu and slashed upward. But Dayu parried the blow and swung her dagger upward, slashing the Ranger with a burst of spark.

 

Samurai Blue chopped from behind. But Dayu snapped around just in time to block the blow and slash the Ranger aside.

 

The Blue Ranger stumbled backward, and Samurai Yellow regrouped with him.

 

Dayu channeled shadow energy through her dagger, which pulsed with purple light. She swung the blade through a streak of shadow energy that slashed the Rangers with massive bursts of spark and whipped them off their feet.

 

***

 

Kiros twirled his weighted chain like a propeller. The weapon fired rippling waves of energy that splashed against Samurai Red and Samurai Pink with bursts of spark. The impact knocked them to the ground.

 

Samurai Red rolled to his feet just in time to block a flurry of sword strikes from Juzou. The flurry of strikes forced the Red Ranger back several steps.

 

Samurai Pink rushed to his side and slashed at Juzou. Juzou parried her sword and slashed. But Samurai Red blocked the blow and parried Juzou’s sword aside.

 

The two Rangers twirled their blades through an intricate dance. Their swords clashed against Juzou’s with bursts of spark and a clanging noise that echoed through the air.

 

Juzou spun and slashed Samurai Pink to the ground. He chopped his sword at the Pink Ranger. But Samurai Red blocked the blow and slashed at Juzou with a flurry of strikes that forced him backward.

 

Samurai Pink stood. But Kiros moved in from behind and snapped his chain around the Pink Ranger’s neck like a whip. The villain pulled the whip to force the Pink Ranger to her knees.

 

Meanwhile Samurai Red parried a volley of wide and powerful swings of Juzou’s blade. Each slash sparked against Samurai Red’s sword, forcing him back several steps.

 

The Red Ranger spun and high blocked a chop that forced him to his knees. Juzou pressed his blade down hard.

 

“Why…” the villain side. “Why have you become weaker?”

 

Samurai Red used his sword to slap Juzou’s blade away, and the Red Ranger stood with an upward swing Juzou blocked.

 

Meanwhile Samurai Pink slashed the chain from her neck, stood and charged at Kiros.

 

Kiros fired a volley of arrows from his gauntlet. The arrows exploded around Samurai Pink as she leapt through the air, somersaulted forward and landed while chapping Kiros with a burst of spark.

 

Samurai Red and Juzou swung their blades, metal clanging against metal. Their swords locked, edges inches away from each other’s faces.

 

Juzou leaned in close. “You value your life now…”

 

Juzou parried Samurai Red’s sword aside and slashed the Red Ranger with a pair of strikes that sparked on impact and forced him backward.

 

The villain swung a powerful upward swing that slashed Samurai Red with a burst of spark. The impact whipped him backward and hurled him through the air.

 

The Red Ranger crashed against the ground and tumbled aside, as the impact knocked him from his armor with a flash of red light.

 

“Teddy!” Samurai Pink shouted as she ran to her leader’s side.

 

Juzou reverted back to his human guise with a flash of purple fire. He looked down upon the fallen ranger with disappointment.

 

“How…boring.”

 

The villain turned and started to walk away. Kiros flashed Teddy a wicked smirk and followed the Vorlock prince.

 

***

 

Anna led Teddy to an abandoned hotel room and wrapped bandages around his injured shoulder and chest. She set him back against the bed, and then opened a commline to Tommy and Ashley. Anna explained everything.

 

“So it’s the Gedoushuu?” Tommy asked through the commline. “And Kiros is with them?”

 

“That’s right,” she said. “And there’s something else…Juzou is back.”

 

“How’s Teddy?” Tommy asked.

 

“He’s resting for a minute,” she said. “That fight took a lot out of him.”

 

“Okay…” Tommy said. “Take care of him. I’ll contact the others and see what I can do.”

 

Anna closed the commline and looked to Teddy. Teddy stared ahead distantly and shifted in bed, wincing as he grasped his shoulder.

 

Juzou’s words echoed in his mind: “Why have you become weaker?”

 

***

 

Tommy and Ashley tried to contact the other Rangers but couldn’t reach them.

 

Ryan and Kirsten lay unconscious by a creek.

 

Bradin crouched next to a ship at the docks. His eyes darted back and forth with nervous paranoia as he grasped his Spin Sword.

 

Anthony staggered across the street about a block away while grasping his own saber.

 

Their communicators toned, but they wouldn’t answer.

 

***

 

A group of Nanashi guarded Serrator’s fire pit. Dayu paced back and forth near the pit, while Juzou sat in his human form on a boulder nearby. Kiros stood at his prince’s side.

 

Dayu walked towards Juzou, who stared ahead aimlessly.

 

“It seems you came back without defeating Samurai Red…” she said.

 

Kiros narrowed his eyes and lifted his blade. “How dare you speak to him like-

 

Juzou lifted his hand, signaling Kiros to fall silent. The demon warrior lifted his head to look to Dayu.

 

“That fight brought me no joy…” he said. “But when I get Urimasa back…I’ll be able to fight until the marrow in my bones is shattered.”

 

“Poetic…” Dayu said.  

 

***

 

Teddy sat on the bed and stared ahead aimlessly. He couldn’t believe Juzou returned. And he couldn’t forget the villain’s words. Am I really weaker?

 

“Teddy?” Anna asked.

 

“Sorry…” Teddy said. “I just wasn’t expecting…I thought he was gone.”

 

“I can’t imagine what seeing him again did to you,” she said.

 

“What makes it worse is that he’s right,” he said. “He said I’m weak because I value my life…because I started to move on. I’m different than the last time I fought him.”

 

“You are different,” she said. “But that’s not a bad thing. Moving on hasn’t made you weaker. It’s made you stronger.”

 

“It hasn’t,” Teddy said as he stood. He rolled his hands into fists and stormed out the door. “It hasn’t at all…”

 

***

 

Teddy ran through the wilderness on his way to the mountain. His anger fueled his every step. He’s right…I started to move on. I started to get…comfortable…and this is what happened.

 

He felt guilty for even thinking he could move past his emotions and find happiness. He lost Bryce. He killed Bryce. He didn’t deserve happiness. I was weak because I started to let go…That won’t happen again.

 

The teen made it to the mountain and stopped near the fire pit, guarded by a group of Nanashi. Juzou sat in his human form nearby, with Kiros at his side, and Dayu walked out from behind the grunts.

 

“Red Ranger…such a pest.” She looked over her shoulder. “Juzou…if you won’t cut him down, then I will.”

 

Dayu pounced and swung her dagger at Teddy. Teddy ducked and somersaulted backward to gain distance.

 

The villain pressed forward and chopped her dagger at the ranger. But Anna dashed to the scene as if from nowhere, blocked the blow with her Spin Sword, and pushed Dayu backward.

 

“Anna…” Teddy said. “What are you doing?”

 

“Did you forget already?” Anna asked as she held her saber in a defensive stance. “We had a deal. We put our lives in your hands. You put yours in ours. That doesn’t make you weak. Fighting together…our bonds…they make us stronger.”

 

She flipped open her morpher. “Samurai scribe! Ha!”

 

Energy wrapped around her as she morphed into her Ranger form.

 

Samurai Pink dashed at Dayu and swung a series of slashes. Downward, upward, horizontal — Dayu blocked each, but the attacks forced her several steps backward.  

 

Dayu spun and chopped her blade at Samurai Pink. But the Pink Ranger blocked the blow, and their weapons locked. Samurai Pink pushed and forced the villain back.

 

Teddy knitted his brow with determination as he watched Samurai Pink fight. She’s right…he thought. I can’t let Juzou mess with my head. Not again…

 

Teddy armed his morpher. “Samurai scribe. Ha!”

 

Energy wrapped around him as he morphed into his Ranger form. He armed the black box: the Samurai Seal.

 

Samurai Red opened the Samurai Seal. He attached the black Super Disc to the inside of the black box, then flipped the device shut. He thrust the box forward and ignited its power.

 

“Super Samurai mode!”

 

The black box flared with golden power that formed a robe-like suit of armor around Samurai Red. He pulled the Super Disc from the black box, slid the disc over his sword handle, and attached the black box to the hilt.

 

Samurai Red armed his newest weapon: the Bullzooka rifle. He carried the rifle in his left hand and Spin Sword in his right hand.

 

A wave of Nanashi charged towards the Red Ranger.

 

Samurai Red blasted orange energy bursts. The blasts exploded through the grunts with massive bursts of spark. A small wave of grunts managed to close in around the Red Ranger. But he slashed them aside.

 

The Red Ranger swung his rifle to his left and opened fire. Energy blasts tore through another trio of grunts.

 

He continued his advance, blasting Nanashi and slashing grunts that came too close. He moved almost casually, each strike and blast honed with experience and tempered with determination. He refused to give into despair.

 

Meanwhile, Samurai Pink blocked and parried Dayu’s dagger assault. The villain’s slashes forced the Pink Ranger back several steps.

 

Dayu moved low and kicked the legs from beneath the Pink Ranger. Samurai Pink crashed to the ground, and Dayu chopped her sword at the fallen Ranger. The Pink Ranger lifted her sword and blocked the strike with a burst of spark.

 

Their blades pressed against each other. 

 

Dayu leaned close. “You think your bonds make you stronger? Foolish girl. Attachments bring only pain…”

 

Samurai Pink knocked the villain’s blade away and rolled to her feet.

 

Nearby, Samurai Red swung his Bullzooka and fired energy bursts that punctured through grunts with bursts of spark that hurled their bodies backward.

 

A group of grunts charged at him and swung their swords. But he parried their blades, slashed them aside, and blasted them further back with bursts of spark.

 

The last of the Nanashi collapsed and exploded, and Samurai Red turned towards the fire pit.

 

The Red Ranger stopped in his tracks when he saw Bryce standing in front of the pit.

 

The villain knitted his brow. “Go ahead…shoot.”

 

Kiros hurried to Bryce’s side. “My prince….”

 

Bryce kept his eyes on the Red Ranger and pushed Kiros back. “I said shoot…This fight of ours has become…boring.”

 

Samurai Red flipped open a slot on the Bullzooka and placed his Tiger Disc in the slot. He closed the slot, which energized the weapon, and aimed the blaster forward.

 

The Red Ranger triggered a massive burst of fiery energy that barely grazed Bryce and exploded through the fire pit with a massive shockwave.

 

***

 

With the fire pit destroyed, the ash lost all power across the island. The minds of infected citizens cleared, as did the minds of Anthony and Bradin.

 

***

 

Samurai Red kept his blaster aimed forward. Bryce stood still, staring at the Ranger with lost, empty eyes.

 

“You still have a charge left…” Bryce said. “Use it…”

 

The villain started to lift his thick sword.

 

Serrator stepped between the two opponents as if from nowhere and lowered Bryce’s weapon.

 

“There’s no need for that…” Serrator said. “I can’t allow the two of you to fight without purpose…it would be such a waste.”

 

Dayu and Kiros quickly gathered near Serrator, and the villain waved his fan, teleporting them away with a burst of smoke.

 

Samurai Red lowered his weapon and stared at where Bryce had stood.

 

***

 

The teens powered down and regrouped near the docks. Ryan, Kirsten, Bradin, and Anthony exchanged stories about their run-ins with the people of the resort

 

“I don’t care how crazy they were,” Bradin teased. “They weren’t nearly as psycho as Anthony. You’d make one hell of a bad guy.”

 

“You went bat-shit crazy too,” Anthony said.

 

“You’re both crazy,” Ryan said with a smile. “Can’t you both call it even?”

 

“Sure,” Bradin said. “,,,Unas.”

 

“Hey!”

 

Teddy walked ahead of them, saying nothing. Mixed emotions raged through his mind. Bryce was alive. And dead. Teddy had killed him. But not. And he was weaker. But not. Weaker for moving on. Or starting to, at least. Guilt swelled in his throat, and anger clutched his chest.

 

Kirsten watched him with concern and looked to Anna. “Did something happen to him back there?”

 

Anna nodded. “Juzou’s back.”

 

“No…” Kirsten gasped. “What does that…What does that even mean?”

 

Anna shook her head. “Nothing good…”

 

To be continued…Chapter 27