Ultimate Hurricane: Chapter Thirty-five prologue

 

Silver Hills, months ago

 

Zen took Brandon to the Hellfire Club mansion in Silver Hills following the battle near the young teen’s home.

 

Brandon sat at a banquet table with Zen and the Black Queen. They ate a meal of roasted duck, lamb chops, turkey and sweet potatoes.

 

“Do you like it?” the Black Queen asked. “You’ve barely touched your food.”

 

Brandon shifted uncomfortably. “I’m…not hungry, I guess.”

 

“I know you’ve had some…difficult times,” Madelyn said. “But let me assure you. You’re with family now. People who love you and want only the best for you.”

 

“It’s true,” Zen said. He looked no older than 15, with short blonde hair and a squared jaw. “These people have given me more than a home. They’ve given me a purpose. They can do the same for you.”

 

Brandon sensed the sincerity in their every word. But he also sensed something odd about them.

 

“You’re hiding things,” he said matter-of-factly.

 

“Not hiding,” Madelyn said. “But no…we haven’t told you everything. Not yet. We don’t want to overwhelm you.”

 

“Are you really my mother?” Brandon asked.

 

“Yes…” Madelyn said. “I am…”

 

The table shook slightly, rattling the dishes and silverware. Madelyn looked frightened for the briefest of moments, then gave Brandon a reassuring smile.

 

“Calm down, my child,” she said. “I never meant for you to have the life you did. Had I known what your father would do to you… She shook her head. “Make no mistake; I would have protected you with all my power.”

 

Brandon’s shoulders relaxed, and the table stopped shaking.

 

“There,” Madelyn said. “That’s better…What a wonderful talent you have.”

 

Zen nodded in agreement. “I could barely lift a spoon when I was your age.”

 

Brandon looked to Zen. “You’re like me too?”

 

“I am,” Zen said. “We’re brothers, Brandon. Half-brothers.”

 

Confused, Brandon shook his head. “I thought Simon…How are we…”

 

Madelyn reached forward and took Brandon gently by the hand. “We’ll explain everything,” she said reassuringly. “A piece at a time. Like I said, this can all be quite overwhelming. The important thing for you to understand is that you’re with your real family now. We will never hurt you. And we’ll give you the strength to make sure no one ever can.”

 

Chapter 35: Ultimate Hurricane

Horrors

 

Simon awoke face-first on a cold, concrete walkway covered with dust. He expected to find himself back in the yard where Owen attacked. Instead, he pushed himself up on the walkway of an abandoned amusement park at night.

 

He saw broken-down rides and carnival booths covered with cobwebs. The area looked long deserted.

 

“Son of a bitch…” he whispered.

 

“Simon!” a voice shouted from nearby. “Is that you?”

 

Simon recognized the voice as his brother’s.

 

“Samuel!” Simon shouted as he dashed from the walkway.

 

The two brothers ran towards each other and met near the entrance of a rundown roller coaster.

 

“You alright?” Simon asked.

 

Samuel nodded, his eyes looking back and forth nervously. “Where are we?”

 

Simon shook his head. “I have no idea. The last thing I remember, we were back at Owen’s…and you smashed me through his house.”

 

“You were going to hurt him,” Samuel said.

 

“I was in control,” Simon said.

 

Samuel shook his head. “You haven’t been in control since you learned the truth. About our mother. And Azmodai. Being around them…stirred something in you. In all of us.”

 

“I’m fine,” Simon said with increased agitation. “Can we just worry about getting out of here? Wherever here is?”

 

A voice called from above. “You won’t be leaving. Not yet, at least.” Zero stood with his swords held casually over his shoulders. “Hello, brothers.”

 

“Brothers?” Simon asked as he looked to Samuel.

 

Samuel shook his head. “He’s not related to us by blood, but he’s one of Azmodai’s offspring.”

 

“I need to start writing this stuff down…” Simon muttered.

 

“Blood or not, it doesn’t matter,” Zero said. “We’re all Children of the First Demon. And we’ll all be together soon. One big, happy, dysfunctional family.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Where are we?” Simon asked. “And where’s Owen?”

 

“We’re in Leawood,” Zero said. He leapt to the ground and landed in front of the brothers. “What’s left of it.

 

Simon recognized the name of the town, just outside of Angel Grove. The town became deserted shortly after the Second Countdown to Destruction.

 

“And Owen?” Simon said.

 

“He’s home,” Zero said. “His real home.”

 

Suddenly, pillars of black smoke erupted from the vacant rides and carnival cars. The pillars circled the teens and shrieked with howls that kicked up the wind.

 

“By the way, this place is haunted,” Zero said as he lifted his swords into a defensive stance. “Just FYI.”

 

The pillars of smoke solidified into a dozen demons in physical form. Their black, slimy bodies sprouted wings as they flew around the ranger and knights.

 

Zero dashed into the wave of demons and swung his blades, hacking through wings and claws. Several demons crashed against the ground and skid across the gravel. The villain swung a reverse hook kick that bashed a demon’s skull.

 

Samuel unsheathed his sword and stepped into a defensive stance as a trio of demons shot towards him. He swung upward through the first demon’s body, slashed the wings off the second demon, and spun forward while slicing the third demon through the jaw. The blows sprayed black ichor that splattered across the ground.

 

Simon armed his morpher. “Ninjetti change!”

 

The bracer burst with energy and knocked him off his feet. He crashed against the ground and skid backward. “What the…”

 

A trio of demons dove towards the fallen ranger.

 

Simon thrust his hand and grabbed the lead demon with waves of invisible Kiryoku. He squeezed his hand into a fist, and the demon exploded with a burst of black flame. 

 

The other two demons screeched with fear and flew into the darkness, leaving Simon and the two knights alone.

 

Simon climbed to his feet and looked at his bracer. What had happened?

 

He looked towards the direction the two demons had fled.

 

“What the hell was that?” Simon asked.

 

“That’s why I brought you here,” Zero said.

 

“You brought us here?” Simon asked. “What, you can teleport now?”

 

“Not teleport,” Zero said. “I can shift through the Veil that separates our world from Hell. It’s a new trick I picked up.”

 

“Sounds like teleporting,” Samuel said.

 

“It’s not teleporting. It’s shifting between Earth and Hell. It’s cooler,” Zero said. He aimed his sword towards the center of the amusement park. “About 1,000 more of those demons are about to burst from Hell. That’s why I brought you here. To help stop them.”

 

Simon narrowed his eyes. “You can’t be serious…Help you? This is a trap. Or a distraction…”

 

“Of course it’s a distraction,” Zero said. “We want you out of the way why your mommy has a chat with Owen. But we also want those demons wiped out. Two birds with one stone, and all that.”

 

“Wait…” Samuel said. “You’re fighting demons?”

 

“Not all demons are the same, Sammy,” Zero said. “If you would have stuck around, the Black Queen could have explained that. These demons are called Horrors. They’re savage. Mindless. And the Inner Circle wants them gone.”

 

“No way we’re helping you,” Simon said.

 

“Simon…” Samuel said as he laid a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “He’s talking about 1,000 demons bursting into our world. We can’t let that happen.”

 

Simon cursed beneath his breath. He hated the idea of playing along with the Hellfire Knights, but Samuel was right. “So what…we just wait for them to puncture through?”

 

Zero scoffed. “You are a dumbass. No…we fight them head on. In the Veil. If we wait for them to get here, they’ll spread, and we’ll have to hunt them down. I don’t have the patience for that.”

 

“I don’t trust you,” Simon said.

 

“If you did, you’d be an even bigger dumbass,” Zero said. “This is what you can trust: My life is better than it’s ever been. I won’t go back to the way things were before…”

 

***

 

Ryan, Shirogane, Eiji, and Zadie awoke on Owen’s lawn. They saw no sign of the boy or his parents, or Simon or Samuel.

 

Eiji knitted his brow. “What the hell happened…?”

 

“That silver light,” Shirogane said as he looked up. “Did you see it?”

 

Ryan nodded. “Just before I blacked out. That was…annoying.”

 

Silver Guardian sirens blared less than a block away.

 

“Speaking of annoying…” Eiji said.

 

“Where’s Simon?” Zadie asked.

 

A voice called from above. “That’s what we’d like to know.” The ZECT agent Marx stood along with a squadron of black-armored ZECT Troopers. The ZECT soldiers acted as the Silver Guardians’ SWAT team. “You’re not exactly doing your job, Faiz.”

 

“I don’t exactly answer to you, Bee,” Ryan said. “Shouldn’t you be out playing with Worms?”

 

Ryan and Marx met briefly while working for INET’s various initiatives. Ryan worked as a freelance agent targeting threats just beneath meta-level, and Marx worked with the Silver Guardians. Their paths crossed once or twice during that time, and they didn’t like each other much.

 

Now, Marx had the power of Kamen Rider TheBee, used by harnessing a zector created by Dr. William “Billy” Cranston. Dr. Cranston created the zectors with the cells of monsters called Worms, as well as a shadow-virus energy that nearly wiped out the city during the Hurricane Power Rangers’ battle against the Jakanja two years ago.

 

More ZECT Troopers fanned into the yard, along with standard Silver Guardian soldiers.

 

Ryan shook his head. “This was a really stupid idea, kid. I had everything under control.”

 

“I suppose that’s why the house I’m standing on is blown in half,” Marx said.

 

“If you guys don’t back off, it’s going to get worse,” Ryan said.

 

“Not if you come along all quiet like,” Marx said with a smug look of satisfaction. “I’m really hoping you don’t, though.”

 

Eiji, Zadie, and Shirogane stood with their backs to one another and eyed the troopers and guardians.

 

Eiji lifted his staff and cursed beneath his breath. “My barriers are pretty much useless on these guys…except the one or two who are probably possessed.”

 

“As is my blade,” Shirogane said. “We can’t kill them.”

 

Zadie unsheathed her knife. “The hell we can’t.”

 

The guardians and troopers armed their weapons at the sight of the movement, but Marx called them off.

 

“Stand down,” he said. “I’ve got this…”

 

His zector buzzed through the air as it shot to the scene.

 

The teen lifted his hand to his chest and caught the zector. He armed his transformation device, worn on his wrist.

 

“Awaken.” He snapped his zector onto his bracer: “AWAKEN.”

 

Bulky armor clamped around his body as he assumed his Masked Form.

 

“Cast off.” He flipped the stinger on his bracer: “CAST OFF.”

 

His bulky armor snapped free and shot off, revealing his slender Rider Form — Kamen Rider TheBee.

 

Below, Ryan flipped open his Faiz Caller. He pressed the “5” key three times. “STANDING BY…”

 

“Awaken.” He snapped the caller into his buckler. Red and white energy flashed around his body as he transformed into the armor of Kamen Rider Faiz: “COMPLETE.”

 

TheBee leapt from the rooftop with a flying sidekick aimed towards Faiz. Faiz blocked the kick and punched the Rider’s chest.

 

TheBee staggered backward. Kamen Rider Faiz pressed forward with a flurry of punches that bashed his opponent’s chest, knocking him back a step with each blow.

 

Kamen Rider TheBee regained his balance, caught Faiz’s punch by the wrist, and roundkicked the Rider’s side several times.

 

Nearby, Eiji aimed his hand towards the ground. “Ketsu!”

 

A barrier formed beneath Eiji, Zadie, and Shirogane and lifted them upward. The guardians and troopers panicked and opened fire with high-yield bullets. The bullets missed as the barrier continued to rise.

 

The trio leapt onto the rooftop and jumped to the other side of the house.

 

Shirogane glanced over his shoulder. “What about Ryan?”

 

“He’s the one with the fancy armor,” Eiji said. “He’ll be fine.”

 

Two Silver Guardian SUVs swerved onto the street and sped towards the trio. Soldiers leaned from the vehicles’ windows and opened fire at the hunters.

 

They dove aside as the bullets spattered against the street.

 

***

 

TheBee kicked Faiz in the chest and punched his helmet. 

 

Faiz staggered backward.

 

Kamen Rider TheBee looked to the soldiers. “Take him.”

 

The ZECT Troopers opened fire with rapid blasts that sparked against Faiz and forced him to his knees. Faiz started to arm his Exceed Barrel. But bullets blasted his helmet with bursts of spark that whipped him to the ground.

 

Suddenly, bullets sparked against the ground near the Rider, forcing the ZECT Troopers and guardians back. The Rider’s armored robot Jet Slider hovered through the air and opened fire with rapid, high-yield rounds that kept the troopers and guardians away.

 

The Jet Slider landed next to Faiz and shifted into motorcycle mode.

 

Weakly, Kamen Rider Faiz climbed onto the bike and started to speed away.

 

But the ZECT Troopers opened fire and blasted the Rider off his cycle. He crashed and skid across the ground.

 

TheBee armed the stinger on his bracer and stalked towards the fallen Rider. The weapon crackled with tendrils of green power.

 

“Rider Sting.” He flipped the stinger: “RIDER STING.”

 

Kamen Rider Faiz climbed to his feet.

 

TheBee swung a punch at Faiz. The stinger speared the Rider’s chest with massive bursts of spark that hurled him off his feet.

 

He crashed with enough force to knock away his armor with a burst of light.

 

Ryan rolled onto his chest and started to push himself up. But TheBee stepped on the back of the rider’s neck and pinned him down. 

 

The ZECT Rider smirked beneath his helmet. “If you were as bad a Ranger as you are a Rider, it’s no wonder the world’s gone to hell…”

 

***

 

The Hellfire Club established a mansion in Silver Hills, a rich suburb southeast of Angel Grove City.

 

Two demon-possessed men led Owen down a carpeted hallway within the mansion. They entered a large banquet room, where the Black Queen sat behind a table filled with food and sweets.

 

Madelyn smiled and stood at the sight of her youngest son. “Owen…It’s so nice to see you. Welcome home.”

 

The boy kept his gaze low. His eyes still looked red from crying. “Home? This isn’t my home…”

 

“Please, Owen, sit down,” the Black Queen said as she took a seat. “I know this must be difficult for you. Losing your parents and your life the way you did. I know it must be painful. But I can help you.”

 

“Can you bring him back?” Owen asked.

 

“Bring who back, dear?” Madelyn asked.

 

“My…my friend,” Owen said, speaking of the demon that possessed him.

 

“I can try,” Madelyn said. “He made you happy. Didn’t he?”

 

Owen smiled and nodded.

 

“That’s good to hear,” Madelyn said. “We all deserve happiness.” She held her hand towards the chair across the table. “Please…come sit with me. And tell me about your friend.”

 

***

 

Zero paced silently in the abandoned park. He held his swords casually over his shoulders and looked towards the distance.

 

Simon narrowed his eyes at the knight. “Well? What are you waiting for?”

 

“What?” Zero asked. “You didn’t think the three of us were going to do this alone, did you?”

 

They heard footsteps come from nearby. Zen, Brandon and R.J. walked onto the scene from behind a run-down fun house.

 

R.J rolled his hands into fists and glared at Simon. “You didn’t tell me he’d be here…”

 

“Relax,” Zero said. “Once we get through this little bonding exercise, you can hack him to pieces.”

 

“R.J…” Simon said. “You can’t trust these people.”

 

“You killed my dad…” R.J. said.

 

Zero rolled his eyes. “I really don’t like re-runs. Let’s get this over with, shall we?”

 

 Zen looked to R.J. “You sure you’re ready? You’ve barely trained.”

 

“I’m a quick study,” R.J. said.

 

Zero turned towards the center of the park and aimed his sword. The blade vibrated with flickers of silver light.

 

Ahead, a line of silver split through the air and opened, forming a portal into the Veil that separated the mortal world from Hell.

 

The villain smirked with satisfaction. “I’m getting better every day,” he said. He looked to Simon and Samuel. “I suppose you want me to go first?”

 

“That’s a safe guess,” Simon said.

 

Zero lifted his swords and swung them through rings above his head. The rings glowed with silver light.

 

He snapped his swords down. “Zero.”

 

The rings washed over him and activated the Soul Metal Armor of the Silver Knight.

 

Zen and Brandon unsheathed their swords. They swung the blades through rings overhead, and the rings pulsed with light.

 

“Zen.”

 

“Baron.”

 

The rings washed over them and transformed them into the red-armored Flame Sword Knight and blue-armored Thunder Knight.

 

R.J. took a deep breath and unsheathed his swords. He handled the weapons with far less grace than his siblings, having only taken his armor days before.

 

He lifted the blades overhead and swung them through rings. The rings glowed with violet light.

 

“Gou.”

 

makai-kadou-storm-knight-bado-01He snapped his swords down, and the rings washed over him, transforming him into the armor of Gou the Storm Knight. His armor looked gray with violet accents, and he carried two curved sabers.  

 

Samuel swung his sword through a ring overhead. The ring glowed with golden light.

 

“Garo,” he said as he snapped his sword down and transformed into the armor of the Golden Knight.

 

Simon swiped his hand across his morpher. The morpher sparked with a surge of energy and knocked him to the ground.

 

The teen cursed beneath his breath and climbed to his feet. He swiped his morpher again, and this time he sparked the surge of black wind that morphed him into Hurricane Black.

 

Zero dove into the Veil. Zen and Baron followed, as did Gou. Garo reluctantly grasped his sword and charged in after his fellow Hellfire Knights.

 

Hurricane Black hesitated. But he charged in after his brothers.

 

***

 

New Bitmap Image (2)The Black Ranger landed in a misty landscape packed with black, winged demons that stretched as far as the eye could see. In the far distance stood several massive, twirling pillars. Winged demons flew from the pillars in swarms so thick they blotted out whatever passed as a sky.

 

He couldn’t even begin to count the number of demons stretched out in front of them.

 

Hurricane Black cursed beneath his breath. “This is one or two more than 1,000…”

 

Zero connected his swords into a double-bladed staff. “Head for the pillars.”

 

Blue fire blasted from his armor joints like thrusters and shot him towards the endless wave of demons.

 

Zen followed, as did Baron and Gou.

 

The Silver Knight spun like a drill and speared through demons with bursts of spark and black ichor as he streaked towards the pillars ahead.

 

The Flame Sword Knight plunged through the demons with the speed and force of a cannonball. He swung his broadsword left and right through streaks of fiery energy that tore the demons apart.

 

The Thunder Knight followed so fast, he appeared as a blur of motion. He jumped from demon to demon while hacking their limbs and heads and cutting off their wings.

 

Gou, the Storm Knight moved slower. But he charged through the demons while twirling and hacking his blades. The weapons cut through demons with bursts of spark and splatters of black ichor.

 

Several dozen Horror Demons pounced at Gou and clawed him with bursts of spark, trying to pull him down. He dashed past the first wave, and then the second, but the third wave pulled him to his knees and hacked relentless against his armor.

 

Suddenly, Garo slammed against the demons and sent them hurling backward. The Golden Knight swung his sword through a streak of green fire that vaporized the demons.

 

Hurricane Black landed nearby and spun while swinging his sword through a ring of black fire. The ring expanded and incinerated dozens upon dozens of Horrors.

 

Garo helped Gou to his feet. “Come on…”

 

The Golden Knight shot through the demons with a burst of green flame, and the Storm Knight followed with a burst of violet flame.

 

The Black Ranger dashed with a burst of speed that shot him forward. He swung his blade through streaks of black flame and energy that hurled dozens of demons from his path.

 

Energy surged through every part of his being. He joined the Hellfire Knights in a wave of power that blasted towards the pillars, an unstoppable force that plowed through demons relentlessly and without mercy, faster than they could react.

 

Several hundred demons swooped from above to intercept the Ranger and Hellfire Knights.

 

Garo crouched and jumped upward like a missile. Hurricane Black followed.

 

The Black Ranger and Golden Knight dashed back and forth so fast, they appeared as blurs of motion. They leapt from demon to demon and hacked them apart with bursts of spark and flame.

 

Hurricane Black and Garo jumped across the flying demons, using them like stepping stones, and charged towards the nearest pillar.

 

The Black Ranger could feel the Golden Knight’s strength radiate. Further, he could feel Zen, Baron and Gou. Their powers intensified one another further and further, to a growing degree that seemed endless.

 

Hurricane Black summoned a second sword. He held the blades together, and they ignited with black fire.

 

The Black Ranger landed against the side of the pillar and stabbed through its surface. His energy blade pulsed and extended, piercing through the pillar with massive bursts of flame.

 

Garo landed on top of the pillar and stabbed through its surface. His sword ignited with green flame that sent rippling explosions through the interior of the demonic pillar.

 

The pillar whined as if in pain, tilted, and collapsed with a massive shockwave that vaporized hundreds upon hundreds of demons.

 

Zero and Baron landed against the second pillar. Their weapons plunged into the demonic structure and ignited. Rippling waves of fire tore through the pillar from the inside and burst with a shockwave that destroyed the neighboring two pillars while wiping out hundreds of demons.

 

Zen and Gou landed against the final pillar. Gou stabbed the pillar and dropped along its side while slashing an opening in the demonic structure. The pillar tilted and collapsed with a massive explosion that hurled hundreds of demons through the Veil.

 

Zero landed on the sizzling ground, which appeared as rippling waves of demonic runes.

 

“That’s it!” he shouted. “Let’s go!”

 

The Silver Knight summoned a portal that led back into the mortal world. The Black Ranger and Hellfire Knights leapt through the portal, which snapped closed just as a final shockwave ripped through the Veil and tore the remaining Horrors to pieces.

 

***

 

The Black Ranger and Hellfire Knights crashed in the park and skid across the pavement. Their armor hissed with steam and flickers of mist from the Veil.

 

Simon powered down his armor and breathed heavily. He felt the demon power swirl within his chest. He wanted more. More destruction. More death. God, that fight…that fight! He shook his head and cleared away the urges.

 

You’re in control…he told himself as he stood. You’re in control…

 

Samuel powered down his armor, as did Zen and Zero.

 

R.J. powered down his armor and collapsed onto all fours, vomiting onto the pavement.

 

Zen laid a hand on his shoulder. “I told you you weren’t ready…”

 

“That was…” R.J. said in between heavy breaths. “Intense. Did that really just happen?”

 

Baron kept his armor on and glared towards the center of the park. “Let’s go back…Did you see that? We can wipe out every freaking demon in Hell with that kind of power!”

 

His armor started to glow and sizzle. He passed his 90 second mark — the amount of time you could wear Soul Metal before it burnt your soul or drove you insane. Only Samuel learned to surpass the 90-second mark without any side effects.

 

Even Zero looked concerned. “Power down your armor. You’re getting hot.”

 

“No!” Baron shouted. “Did you see that? With that kind of power…we can stop them all! No one can ever hurt us again! Ever!”

 

His armor sizzled with heat that drove him to his knees. He grabbed his head and growled with pain. “No…no!”

 

His anger washed through the park with a psionic shockwave that hurled the ranger and knights off their feet. 

 

“I can control this!” Baron shouted. “I’m not weak! Not anymore!”

 

His armor flared with blue fire. He growled with rage, and the growl carried another shockwave that tore through the abandoned buildings and rides in the park.

 

Samuel climbed to his feet and looked to Simon. “He’s going berserk!”

 

Baron grabbed his sword as anger and rage poured through his body and ebbed across the entire landscape. His brothers felt that anger. That pain.

 

Baron growled and shot towards the city.

 

***

 

Owen collapsed onto the floor and clutched his head. Baron’s cries reached even him, and they tore through his mind with white-hot agony.

 

“Owen!” the Black Queen shouted as she ran to his side.

 

Instinctively, he bashed her aside with a wave of telekinetic energy. “Make it stop, make it stop!”

 

A wave of telekinetic power blasted from the boy and tore apart the room, blasting a hole in the side of the mansion.

 

***

 

Baron crashed through building after building with the force and speed of a bullet train. He carved a mindless path of destruction through Angel Grove East.

 

Garo shot after him and tackled him aside. The two Knights crashed against the ground and skid across a plaza, tearing up pavement. They crashed through a marketplace and skid to a halt on the other side of the building.

 

Baron howled with rage and smashed the back of his fist across Garo’s helmet. The blow hurled the Golden Knight across the street, and he crashed through a building.

 

Hurricane Black landed on the street nearby. He swung his swords through streaks of black flame that shot towards Baron.

 

But Baron merely slashed the flames away. He shot against the Black Ranger and smashed him through a nearby building. They blasted through the other end of the building, and the Thunder Knight tossed the Black Ranger aside like a rag doll.

 

***

 

Owen ran frantically through the halls of the Hellfire mansion. His mind panicked. He felt anger and rage that didn’t belong to him. He couldn’t explain the feelings. He wanted them gone.

 

A group of Azmodai’s demon-possessed men rushed into the hallway in front of the boy. He lifted his hand and hurled them off their feet with a TK blast that tore apart the walls, ripping tapestries and shattering decorative vases. 

 

Two teens ran into the hallway from behind Owen. One of them, Siph, carried a bow, and the other, Bado, carried a staff.

 

Owen snapped around and hurled a TK blast at the teens. The blast smashed against them and knocked them to the ground.

 

Bado cursed beneath his breath and leaned on his staff to rise to his feet. Siph rose to her feet at his side.

 

Owen staggered farther down the hallway. He grabbed his head with one hand and used his other to hurl sporadic waves of telekinetic energy that blasted through the walls.

 

Bado armed his staff. “Remember…don’t hurt him.”

 

Siph armed her bow.

 

10129065a3They swung the weapons through rings of energy that washed over them and activated their Soul Metal armor. Bado became the white-armored White Knight, and Siph became the silver-armored Sky Bow Knight.

 

Siph fired a volley of arrows towards the ceiling ahead of Owen. The arrows exploded against the ceiling, which collapsed into the hallway to block the boy’s path.

 

Owen staggered to a stop and collapsed. Pain pounded in his skull, and grief tightened his throat. He felt despair well inside his gut. “Make it go away…make it go away!”

 

He turned and hurled a TK pulse at the Hellfire Knights. The blasts slammed against them. But they braced themselves and stood their ground as the pulse pushed them backward.

 

Bado twirled his staff into a defensive stance and shot towards the boy. He grabbed Owen and slammed him against the floor.

 

Owen screamed with a psionic shockwave that blasted Bado through the ceiling.

 

***

 

Baron and Garo clashed swords. Their weapons clanged and sparked as they twirled around one another.

 

The Thunder Knight growled with rage and kicked Garo’s chest. The impact shot the Golden Knight backward.

 

Hurricane Black leapt towards Baron from behind and slashed his back with bursts of spark, whipping him aside.

 

The Black Ranger felt his younger brother’s pain and anger build like a bomb about to explode. He dashed to attack.

 

Baron swung upward, and his blade slashed Hurricane Black with a burst of spark that hurled him through the air.

 

The Thunder Knight collapsed to his knees and leaned on his sword to keep from collapsing. His armor sizzled and burnt his soul; clouded his mind.

 

The armor powered down with a flash of blue light.

 

Brandon knitted his brow with confusion and panic. He wanted the armor back. “No…no!”

 

***

 

The Sky Bow Knight charged at Owen. She grabbed him by the shirt and lifted him off his feet. He screamed, and the resulting psionic blast drove into her mind like a white-hot dagger.

 

Siph dropped the boy and staggered backward. She collapsed to her knees and grabbed her head.

 

Behind, the rubble cleared the hallway with crackling tendrils of electricity. The White Rook Quentin stood on the other end of the hall with his hand against the wall.

 

The alchemist bashed both hands against the floor, which rippled with crackling waves of electricity. The floor transformed into a wave of wood and concrete that surged towards Owen.

 

The wave smashed against the boy and knocked him off his feet. He slammed against the floor and lost consciousness.

 

The Black Queen stepped into the hallway once the dust began to settle. She looked down at her fallen son with a mix of fear and pride.

 

“Take him to his room,” she said to the White Rook. “And find my other children. Something’s happened to one of them…”

 

***

 

Simon powered down his armor and walked towards Brandon. “Brandon…it’s okay.”

 

Brandon grabbed Simon with a telekinetic force and lifted him several feet off the ground. The young teen tightened his grip as tears swelled in his eyes.

                                                                                               

“I won’t let it happen again! I won’t!” he shouted.

 

He hurled Simon aside, and the teen crashed against the pavement.

 

Samuel powered down his armor and kept his distance. “Brandon...I know what you’re going through. The same thing happened to me when I first-”

 

“You don’t know!” Brandon shouted. His telekinetic power shook the streets and collapsed the front of a nearby building. “I won’t go back to being some crying little kid! I won’t.”

 

“No one’s asking you to-”

 

Brandon narrowed his eyes and fired a TK blast that hurled Samuel off his feet. The young teen used his mind to lift two cars and hurl them at the fallen knight.

 

Simon rose to his feet and slapped his right fist against his left palm. He fired an invisible Kiryoku blast that tore through the cars, which exploded in midair.

 

He thrust his hand towards Brandon, and a ring of black fire circled the ground around the young teen.

 

“Brandon, calm down!” Simon shouted. “Your armor made you go berserk. I can still feel it!”

 

Samuel groaned and stood. “Shouting at him with black fire isn’t going to calm him down!”

 

Brandon narrowed his eyes and fired a TK blast at Simon. But the ranger leapt over the blast and jumped to a nearby walkway.

 

Brandon shifted his stance and blasted the walkway apart, just as Simon jumped clear.

 

Nearby, several Silver Guardian SUVs sped to the scene.

 

Simon cursed beneath his breath. “You’ve gotta be kidding me…”

 

The vehicles formed a perimeter and skid to a halt. Silver Guardian soldiers filed from the SUVs and fanned across the plaza.

 

Simon glared at the soldiers. “Didn’t you guys learn last time?! Back away, he’s dangerous!”

 

Brandon tightened his hands into fists and crushed the SUVs with massive explosions that hurled the guardians through the air like rag dolls. His anger fed his power, enhanced by the presence of his two brothers, as well as the rage of the werewolf spirits within his Soul Metal armor.

 

Even though he didn’t have the armor on, the energy of the werewolf spirits coursed through his veins. He howled with rage, and his eyes tinted gold like those of wolves. He snarled, and his teeth turned into fangs. 

 

Several Silver Guardians scrambled to their feet and opened fire.

 

“No!” Samuel shouted as he bolted to his feet.

 

Brandon’s body ignited with blue fire that incinerated the bullets and splashed across several of the guardians.

 

“Leave me alone!” he shouted with a wave of telekinetic power that blasted through several guardians and tore them apart.

 

Simon fired a Ki burst that knocked Brandon off his feet. The young teen crashed and skid across the pavement.

 

The ranger leapt through the air and angled his decent towards his brother.

 

But Samuel pounced and tackled Simon away. “You’ll hurt him!”

 

“Are you serious?!” Simon shouted as he pushed Samuel aside. “He’s lost it!”

 

“So we use our empathic abilities and calm him down,” Samuel said. “We don’t fight him, that’ll only make things worse. You have to trust me…we can calm him-”

 

A burst of telekinetic energy knocked the knight and ranger off their feet. They crashed and skid across the pavement.

 

Brandon climbed to his feet and snarled at the remaining Silver Guardians. Some of them dropped their weapons and fled. Others scrambled to regroup.

 

One of the guardians glared at the young teen and aimed his weapon. “You monster…you little demon shit!”

 

Brandon remembered the words of his father: “You little monster!” the man had shouted. “You demon-child!”

 

Brandon hurled the guardian off his feet.

 

The young teen used his mind to lift the fiery wreckage of the Silver Guardian SUVs. He hurled the vehicles like missiles, which exploded through nearby buildings with bursts of fire and debris.

 

Tears streamed down his cheeks as the fire within his soul intensified. A wave of blue fire erupted from his body and splashed across the remaining guardians, incinerating them.

 

Flames flickered across the plaza, clouded with smoke. No one moved. All was still.

 

Brandon collapsed to his knees and breathed heavily. Tears streamed down his cheeks as the fire within his soul dimmed. His fists shook with anger and pain.

 

“I just want…” he whispered. “I just want to go home…”

 

Nearby, a critically injured Silver Guardian managed to lift his gun high enough, briefly enough, for a single shot.

 

The bullet struck Brandon in the head and whipped him to the ground.

 

Simon and Samuel opened their eyes wide with horror as they climbed to their feet. The pain of Brandon’s death washed over them like ice-hot fire.

 

“No…” Simon whispered. “No!”

 

He charged towards the Silver Guardian who fired the shot.

 

The injured guardian smirked and dropped his gun, too weak to hold the weapon.

 

Simon howled with rage. He lifted the guardian off the ground and ignited his body with black flame. The flames incinerated the soldier into ash.

 

The ranger lowered his trembling hands and looked over his shoulder. Samuel cradled Brandon’s body while rocking back and forth.

 

Simon dropped to his knees. The pain of Brandon’s death ached in his chest. And now he felt Samuel’s sorrow wash over him, and mix with his own.

 

The ranger looked down at his hands and rolled them into fists.

 

To be continued…Chapter 36