Chapter 50: Hurricane

Hell Scorn: No Rest for the Wicked

 

Two days ago

 

Lauren sat with Tommy on the steps of the Hayate Way. She took a sip of tea and stared ahead, saying nothing until Tommy broke the silence.

 

“Have you had time to think?” he asked.

 

“About what? My demon-crazed half-brother? The one I never knew about until you dragged me from home?”

 

Tommy nodded. “…Yeah. About that.”

 

“You’re not very good at this comforting thing, are you?” she asked.

 

“I can be. Sometimes. But days like today?” Tommy shook his head. “There’s only so much to go around, Lauren. I can’t say I blame you for hating me. But-”

 

“I don’t hate you,” she said. “When you first told me you needed me? I jumped at the chance. I never felt like I belonged anywhere. To find out I was special…I needed that. But this isn’t the kind of special I was hoping for.”

 

“I should have approached you as soon as I knew…” Tommy said. “As soon as I knew you were meant to be Samurai Red.”

 

“But you didn’t,” she said. “And the brush you made for me burnt out.”

 

Morpher,” Tommy said.

 

“Okay, the morpher,” Lauren said. “Where does that leave me now?”

 

“In a place where you can help your brother,” Tommy said. “When he met his birth mother…when he got close to Azmodai…it stirred something dark in him.”

 

“And you think being near me will stir something light?” she asked.

 

Tommy nodded. “As far as I can tell, your birth father was a good man. You have a part of that goodness. So does Simon.”

 

“So what do you need me to do?” she asked.

 

“First we find him,” Tommy said. “Then? Then you reach out to him…”

 

***

 

The present

 

Eiji, Zadie and Shirogane raced to the Hellfire Club mansion in Silver Hills. The building pulsed with shadow energy, which poured upward through a pillar of power.

 

“Okay…” Eiji said. “How do we get inside?”

 

“You don’t,” a voice said from behind.

 

Agent Marx stood alongside a black-armored team of ZECT Troopers. ZECT acted as the Silver Guardians’ SWAT team and typically focused on fighting monsters called Worms. But recently, the group turned its attention towards Simon and his friends.

 

Eiji narrowed his eyes at the agent. “You again…”

 

Shirogane unsheathed his sword. “What have you done with Ryan?”

 

“You’ve got bigger problems, Silver,” Marx said. “Like that pillar of energy behind you. You don’t get inside something like that…You blow it up.”

 

“And kill everyone inside?” Shirogane asked.

 

“That generally happens when you blow something up, yes,” Marx said.

 

“Witty,” Zadie said. “Is it sad I’m turned on by you right now?”

 

Marx shifted uncomfortably. “…What?”

 

“No, I mean it,” Zadie said with a smile. “You pretty boys come here with your big guns, talk all rough…A girl likes what a girl likes.”

 

Marx knitted his brow. “Trying to distra-”

 

Zadie pounced and kicked him to the ground before he could arm his Zector.

 

The ZECT Troopers swung their weapons at the girl. 

 

Eiji thrust his hand. Ketsu!”

 

The troopers opened fire. But a barrier lifted Zadie from the ground just in time to miss the bullets. 

 

She leapt off the barrier and kicked a trooper to the ground.

 

Eiji ran to her side while bashing troopers left and right with his staff.

 

“Are you insane?” he asked as he whacked a trooper across the head. “We’re not bullet proof.”

 

Zadie grinned. She was enjoying herself. “Close enough.”

 

She spun and bashed her elbow through a trooper’s faceplate.

 

Marx cursed beneath his breath and climbed to his feet. He started to arm his Zector. But Shirogane kicked him upside the head.

 

The blow knocked the agent several steps backward, but he stood his ground.

 

He wiped blood from his nose and grinned at Shirogane. “Not bad…Kick a guy while he’s down. Learn that from Ryan?”

 

“Actually…” Shirogane said as he twirled his sword into a fighting stance. “Yes.”

 

***

 

Lilith’s demons hopped across the rooftops of Silver Hills. The Demunio wore black robes and skull masks, and carried slender katana. Their target: The Hellfire Club mansion on the other side of the suburb. 

 

***

 

Zadie grabbed a trooper’s gun, twisted it aside, and stabbed him in the chest. Light sizzled beneath his skin as the demon burnt from his soul.

 

“Looks like some of you solider boys have hitchhikers,” she said as she kicked the body away.

 

Marx pulled out his blaster and fired at Shirogane. The former ranger jumped backward several times to gain distance as the bullets blasted the pavement.

 

The agent tossed his gun aside and armed his wrist-mounted transformation device. His zector buzzed through the air, and he caught it.

 

“Awaken.” He snapped the 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: “CHANGE WASP”

 

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

 

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

 

The Rider lunged and swung a punch at Shirogane. But a red blur dropped between the opponents and blocked the blow.

 

Samurai Red crouched with the flat side of his Fire Breaker pressed against the stinger.

 

“I know he’s not the most popular Sixth Ranger…but don’t touch him,” Samurai Red said.

 

The Red Ranger knocked the stinger away, spun forward, and swung wide. His blade slashed the Rider with a massive burst of spark that hurled him backward.

 

Kamen Rider TheBee crashed against the ground and skid backward, tearing through dirt.

 

The Rider cursed beneath his breath and pushed himself to his feet. When he looked up, he saw the six Samurai Rangers regroup.

 

The Rangers snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Blade of the Flame! Samurai Red!”

 

“Blade of the Woods! Samurai Green!”

 

“Blade of the Water! Samurai Blue!”

 

“Blade of the Earth! Samurai Yellow!”

 

“Blade of the Wind! Samurai Pink!”

 

“Blade of the Light! Samurai Gold!”

 

“Symbol Task Force!” Samurai Red called. Together, they shouted: “Samurai Rangers!”

 

Eiji arced an eyebrow and looked to Shirogane. “Do they always have to shout their names like that?”

 

“It’s honorable to let your opponent know your name before you kill him in combat,” Shirogane said.

 

“Dark…” Eiji said. “I’m impressed.”

 

The ZECT Troopers regrouped and opened fire at the Samurai Rangers. Bullets sparked against their armor as they dove aside.

 

“Don’t hurt the troopers,” Samurai Red said to the others.

 

“Maybe just a little?” Samurai Green asked as he slashed bullets from the air with bursts of spark.

 

Eiji, Shirogane, and Zadie regrouped while the Rangers battled the Rider and ZECT Troopers. They ran closer to the mansion.

 

“OK, same problem,” Eiji said. “How do we get in?”

 

Shirogane unsheathed his sword and swung wide; the blade fired a wave of blue energy. But the mansion’s shadow barrier repelled the blast.

 

Eiji held back his staff and thrust his hand towards the mansion. Ketsu!”

 

His barrier tried to blast through the weaves of shadow. But the shadow tore the barrier apart with splinters of blue light. 

 

“Real helpful, boys,” Zadie said sarcastically. “Way to crack that barrier.”

 

“Here’s an idea,” Eiji said. “Try bitching it to pieces.”

 

Suddenly, Lilith’s demons dropped into the yard and hacked dozens of ZECT Troopers before they could react.

 

Several Demunio broke from the main group and shot towards Eiji, Shirogane and Zadie. The group barely managed to dive aside and dodge their sword swings.

 

Eiji rolled onto his back and aimed his hand towards one of the demons. Joso! Ketsu!

 

His barrier snapped around a demon.

 

Metsu!”

 

The barrier collapsed with a burst of blue fire that barely moved the villain.

 

Eiji cursed beneath his breath. “They’re not possessed…They’re demons in physical form.”

 

Two demons leapt towards him and chopped their blades. Eiji held his staff wide and blocked their blows. He swung his staff, knocked their swords away, and whacked them backward.

 

One of the demons slapped his right fist against his left palm. His body tore apart into wisps of smoke, and the smoke reformed into a monster. His body turned black, with bone armor shaped like ribs, and skeletal armor around his shoulders, waist and elbows. A bone mask framed his face, featureless except for pale-white eyes. Fiery red hair flowed from his head. And wings snapped from his back.

 

The demon shot upward.

 

From above, it snapped its wings and fired a volley of shadow darts at the hunters.

 

Ketsu!” Eiji summoned a barrier that surrounded them and deflected the darts. 

 

The hunter didn’t notice two figures land on his barrier.

 

“Water darts!”

 

“Lightning bolt!”

 

A bolt of navy-tinted lightning and water darts blasted the demon with bursts of spark that knocked him from the air.

 

Eiji looked up to see Navy Thunder and Hurricane Blue standing on his barrier.

 

Hurricane Green and Hurricane Yellow landed on the other side of the yard.

 

The Green Ranger thrust his fists upward. “Slicing Sound Wave!”

 

Hurricane Green fired waves of sonic energy that shot towards the demon like blades. The wave slashed the demon with massive bursts of spark.

 

Hurricane Yellow leapt towards the monster. “Lion Barrage!”

 

His fists and feet pulsed with seismic energy. He pommeled the monster upward, then swung his leg through an axe-kick that bashed the monster downward with tremendous force.

 

The demon smashed against the ground with a shockwave.

 

Shirogane stared at the small crater that formed when the demon crashed. “The ground…”

 

“Very good, Silver,” Zadie said sarcastically. “And above us is the sky.”

 

“No,” he said. “If we can’t get to the mansion from the outside, maybe we can get through from beneath.”

 

“That’s actually not a bad idea,” Eiji said.

 

“Well…” Zadie said. “Don’t just stand there and look pretty. Let’s go…”

 

***

 

A new Silver Guardian Heliship flew towards Silver Hills. Ryan sat in the carrier bay along with two soldiers. The soldiers wore black jumpsuits that matched their helmets, which hid their faces.

 

Ryan looked back and forth between the two soldiers, who said nothing. “Not very chatty…Are we?”

 

The soldiers ignored him.

 

The bay doors opened as the Heliship approached the Hellfire Club mansion. Ryan looked outside to see the demons, Rangers and ZECT Troopers battle in the mansion’s massive yard.

 

The mansion itself ebbed with a barrier of shadow energy, which poured upward with a pillar of power. 

 

“Just another Saturday…” Ryan said as he leapt from the Heliship.

 

The two soldiers followed.

 

The trio landed in the yard near the ZECT Troopers, who scrambled to fight the Demunio and Samurai Rangers.

 

“Focus on the demons, not the Rangers. I’m headed straight for the mansion,” Ryan said as he 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.”

 

One of the soldiers pulled out a similar device, called the Kaixa Driver. He pressed the “9-1-3” keys. “STANDING BY…”

 

New Bitmap Image“Awaken.” He snapped the driver into his buckler. Yellow energy flashed around him as he transformed into the armor of Kamen Rider Kaixa. “COMPLETE.”

 

The second solider pulled out a grip and lifted it towards his faceplate. “Awaken.”

 

The grip spoke: “STANDING BY…”

 

He slid the grip into the right side of his belt. White energy flashed around him as he transformed into the armor of Kamen Rider Delta. “COMPLETE”

 

Kaixa armed his Blaygun in a reverse grip and charged towards the skirmish. Delta ran at his side and opened fire with his Delta Blaster.

 

Bullets sparked against demons and the Samurai Rangers, blasting them backward.

 

Kaixa charged through the battle and slashed aside Demunio with bursts of spark. The Rider spotted Samurai Gold ahead and chopped his blade towards the Ranger’s back.

 

But the Gold Ranger turned and blocked the blow with a burst of spark.

 

“Another one?” Samurai Gold kicked the Rider and slashed him upside the chest with a burst of spark.

 

Faiz cursed beneath his breath when he saw.

 

“I said focus on the demons!” he shouted to the two Riders.

 

Kaixa and Delta ignored Faiz.

 

Kamen Rider Delta swung his blaster and opened fire, blasting through Demunio. Several blasts sparked against the Samurai as they fought the same demons.

 

Faiz opened a commline to INET. “Cranston, your new toy soldiers are worthless. They’re not following-”

 

“The Rangers and demons are both targets,” Cranston said through the commline. “Focus on apprehending Simon.”

 

“But you said-”

 

“Save your friend, Ryan,” Cranston said. “Just stay out of my other Riders’ way.”

 

***

 

Eiji, Shirogane and Zadie found a massive tunnel that extended beneath the Hellfire mansion. They moved through the tunnel and made their way towards the center of the structure above.

 

“Do we wait to find a door?” Eiji asked. “Or do we just blast our way up?”

 

“You do love blasting things,” Zadie said.

 

Suddenly, the tunnel walls sparked with electricity and surged towards the trio like waves of rock. The hunters leapt upward to avoid the wave.

 

Ahead, the Hellfire Club’s two alchemists stood side-by-side: The White Rook Quentin and the Black Rook Kimblee.

 

Shirogane swung his sword wide; the blade fired a wave of energy that shot towards the two alchemists.

 

The rooks slapped their hands against the ground and formed a wall. The energy blade blasted through the wall with an explosion of rubble and debris that hurled the rooks backward.

 

Eiji and Zadie charged to attack.

 

The White Rook climbed to his feet. Zadie launched at him with a flying kick that smashed his chest, knocking him backward.

 

The Black Rook stood, placed his palms together, and started to slap towards the wall. But Eiji’s staff knocked the villain’s hand aside and whacked his head. The hunter spun forward and swung his staff, which bashed the villain’s gut.

 

A group of men poured into the tunnel and opened fire with standard handguns. The hunters dove aside and took cover behind rubble.

 

Zadie grabbed vials of holy water and threw them down the tunnel. The vials shattered and splashed the men, who screamed and staggered as the holy water singed their flesh.

 

Eiji leapt from behind the rubble. Hoi! Joso! Ketsu!

 

His barrier snapped around the men.

 

The hunter swung his hand downward. Metsu!

 

The barrier collapsed with bursts of blue flame that incinerated the demons within the men, who collapsed to the ground.

 

Eiji swung his staff into a defensive stance and waited. But nothing else happened. “That’s it?”

 

“Hey!” a voice shouted from further ahead. “Over here!”

 

The hunters ran ahead and spotted a girl standing on top of a pile of demon-possessed men. She wore a red-trimmed Hayate Way uniform and carried a slender sword. Golden hair flowed across her back.

 

It was Lauren.

 

“Don’t worry,” she said. “They’re not dead.”

 

“Yes, I was so concerned,” Eiji said.

 

Lauren looked to her hand, still surprised by her power. Because her bloodline descended from angels, her Kiryoku could burn demons from the souls of possessed men and women. Adam Park possessed the same ability.

 

“Who are you?” Shirogane asked.

 

“My name’s Lauren,” she said. “Tommy sent me here to find Simon. He’s…kind of my half-brother. But without the demon complications.”

 

Tommy sent Lauren to the Hellfire mansion with specific instructions: “Whatever you do, stay with the Hurricane team. They’ll keep you safe and get you in. Don’t go off alone.”

 

Lauren didn’t listen well.

 

Zadie shook her head. “Can we speed this up?”

 

Eiji arced an eyebrow. “Did you hear what she just-

 

“I heard,” Zadie said. “Simon’s half-sister. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if half the city was related to the guy.”

 

Shirogane gripped his sword and looked cautiously down the tunnel. “We can’t stay here…”

 

“We don’t have to,” Lauren said as she pointed her sword above her head. “Look up.”

 

They looked to see a lid that likely led to the mansion above.

 

Zadie looked to Eiji. “I’ve known her for two seconds, and I already think she’s more useful than you.”

 

“I really hate you,” Eiji said.

 

“I get that a lot.”

 

***

 

Lauren, Eiji, Zadie, and Shirogane entered the lower level of the Hellfire mansion.

 

Azmodai’s men surrounded them in a hallway and opened fire. Their bullets blasted through the floor and walls and shattered vases and statues.

 

Zadie tossed her knife at the group ahead. The blade punctured through a man and burnt the demon from his soul as he fell.

 

The hunter leapt through the air, landed against the fallen man while pulling her dagger free, and swung wide, slashing through a pair of demons.

 

Three men swung their weapons towards the girl.

 

Ketsu!

 

Eiji’s barrier knocked them aside before they could fire. The hunter landed on his barrier and aimed towards the attackers. Ketsu! Metsu!

 

He formed a barrier that collapsed around them with bursts of blue flame, burning the demons from their souls. The men dropped to the ground.

 

Eiji powered down his barrier and dropped next to Zadie. “How many times do I have to tell you. You’re not-”

 

Behind, Lauren charged towards a wave of demons while slashing bullets from the air with bursts of spark. She slammed against the attackers as if a fighter her whole life.

 

The girl smashed her pommel across a demon’s head, kicked the legs out from a grunt, and slashed the gun from a demon’s hand.

 

She grabbed a man by the forehead and ignited her Kiryoku, which burnt the demon from his body with a flare of red light.

 

Two more men swung their guns to attack.

 

Lauren spun wide and slashed their guns from their hands. She grabbed them one-by-one and purged the demons from their souls.

 

Eiji stared silently, impressed. “Maybe I should visit this little school Tommy has…”

 

***

 

Azmodai stood on the center of a stone platform. The platform hovered within a cyclone, which spun within the villain’s pocket dimension.

 

His sons surrounded him on the platform. Their bodies ebbed with shadow power that flowed into Azmodai’s body as he laughed with insanity.

 

“That’s it, my children…” he said. “Let me drink your power!”

 

Simon rolled his hands into fists and tried to climb to his feet. But pain seared through his every nerve and kept him pinned down. Not just his pain. The pain of his brothers. He felt Owen’s fear and panic. He felt Samuel’s guilt — guilt for their failure to save Brandon, and now Owen and the others.

 

Samuel’s guilt mixed with Simon’s own, and he tightened his fists so tight, his nails dug into his skin and drew blood.

 

***

 

Corpses. Animated corpses blocked the hallway when Lauren and the others moved to the next level of the Hellfire mansion.

 

Shirogane chopped his blade and fired a wave of blue energy that slashed through the zombies, blasting most of them to ash.

 

The hunters rushed through the remaining grunts. Zadie slashed them left and right as she charged ahead. Eiji bashed them aside with his staff. And Lauren slashed them back with her sword.

 

“What are these?” Lauren asked. “Are these really zombies?”’

 

“If you have to ask that, you really shouldn’t be here,” Zadie said as she hacked the head off a corpse.

 

Eiji stabbed his staff through a corpse’s chest. “The Hellfire Club must have another necromancer…”

 

The floor exploded with a burst of flame, and the group crashed into a library below. Piles of corpses rained to the floor around them.

 

Lauren and the others climbed to their feet, as did the corpses.

 

Eiji cursed beneath his breath and swung his staff into a fighting stance. “This whole place is a death trap.”

 

Ahead, two men stepped from behind a massive bookcase. One of them wore a black jacket and carried an amulet that glowed with power. A necromancer, the Black Bishop commanded the dead.

 

The other, the White Bishop, wore a white jacket and white gloves etched with black, demonic symbols.

 

The White Bishop snapped his fingers, and flames erupted throughput the library, igniting every book and shelf.

 

“Let me guess…” Lauren said. “A pyromancer?”

 

The White Bishop smiled. “Smart girl…And pretty.”

 

Eiji lifted his staff. “Ket-

 

Corpses tackled Eiji and pinned him down as smoke clouded the room.

 

Zadie stabbed a zombie in the chest. But the corpse collapsed onto her, tackling her to the floor.

 

Shirogane spun and slashed wide. But a zombie grabbed his wrist, and another corpse bashed him to the floor.

 

Lauren kicked a zombie upside the head. But a corpse grabbed her leg and dropped her to the floor.  

 

The White Bishop laughed and snapped his fingers, igniting another pulse of flame that blasted through the room.

 

“I can’t get enough of that…” he said as he snapped again, sparking another flame. “I can’t get-”

 

A bullet blasted the villain through the head, whipping him to the floor.

 

The Black Bishop took a step back. But bullets blasted through his head and chest, knocking him off his feet.

 

With the Black Bishop dead, the zombies collapsed into lifeless corpses.

 

Lauren and the others pushed themselves to their feet. They looked up to see dozens of soldiers drop down zip lines and land in the library. Dressed in all black, they used fire extinguishers to battle the blaze around them.

 

A suited man stepped from among the soldiers and walked towards Lauren and the others.

 

“Quite a mess you’ve made here,” the man said.

 

Lauren knitted her brow. “Who are you…?”

 

“My name is Elias Kaine,” he said. “Former Black King of the Hellfire Club. I’ve come to take back my Inner Circle.”

 

“Simon told me about you…” Zadie said. “I thought you didn’t want anything to do with this ‘Ranger business’?”

 

“I don’t,” Kaine said. “But when I returned home after my last encounter with the Rangers…My mistresses tried to eat me.”

 

Eiji arced an eyebrow. “Were they possessed or just kinky?”

 

“Clever,” Kaine said sarcastically. “Make no mistake, I despise the Rangers, I despise you demon hunters, and I despise the demons. But if I am to live my wonderful life of sin and debauchery…it’s clear I need to bring the Hellfire Club back under my control, and cleanse the rot from its core.” 

 

Kaine pulled out his cellphone and activated it. “Commence Operation Checkmate.”

 

***

 

A group of White Pawns and Black Pawns rushed through the upper levels of the mansion. Cellphones beeped in several of the Pawns’ pockets.

 

Those Pawns wasted no time. They pulled out their guns and killed their companions without mercy. Loyal to Kaine, they reloaded their weapons and moved to their next target.

 

***

 

The Hellfire Club’s White Knight and Black Knight stood guard in front of the gate that led to Azmodai’s pocket dimension.

 

The Black Knight’s phone beeped in his pocket.

 

The Black Knight unsheathed his sword and sliced off the White Knight’s head.

 

***

 

Kaine led Lauren, Shirogane, Eiji and Zadie up the stairs of the Hellfire Club mansion. They heard gunfire and bursts of flame as those loyal to Kaine fought those loyal to the Black Queen and Azmodai.

 

Kaine stopped at one of the floors. “Keep moving ahead,” he said. “You’ll find Azmodai’s children in a pocket dimension on the top floor.”

 

Lauren knitted her brow. “Pocket dimension?”

 

Kaine looked aghast that she didn’t understand.

 

“She’s new…” Eiji said.

 

“What about you?” Lauren asked.

 

“I have a date with the Black Queen…” Kaine said as he pulled out his gun. “Go…and please don’t ever let me see you or your kind again. When this is over, I want nothing but a life of wealth and luxury.”

 

“I’m sure everything will be puppies and kittens,” Zadie said. She looked to the others. “Let’s go…”

 

***

 

Simon struggled against his chains. He felt his powers drain and seep into Azmodai, who laughed as the storm intensified around them.

 

The demon’s skin started to peal, revealing black tissue. He smiled and looked up as his eyes turned solid black.

 

“This is it…” he said. “Just a little-”

 

His voice caught in his throat. He choked, grasped his throat, and collapsed to his knees. He still absorbed the power of his sons. But some of that power felt…tainted.

 

Azmodai looked to Simon and glared. “What have you done…?”

 

Simon felt hundreds of demons scream in his mind. The screams belonged to the demon energies he spent the past year siphoning. Many of those demons hated Azmodai and viewed him as an enemy.

 

Their power invigorated Simon with white-hot energy. The power felt warm, yet coated in filth.

 

The ranger snapped from his chains and stood.

 

Azmodai continued to siphon Simon’s power. But that power overwhelmed the demon.

 

“So…” Azmodai said as he climbed to his feet. “It seems you’ve become powerful enough to…”

 

The villain staggered back with pain. “Powerful enough to resist me…”

 

Simon rolled his hands into fists, which ignited with black flame. He lunged and pommeled Azmodai with punches that burst with black energy.

 

Azmodai grabbed his son by the wrist and kicked out his legs, forcing him to his knees. The villain back-hand smacked his son’s face.

 

“This is no way to treat your father!” Azmodai shouted.

 

Simon elbowed Azmodai in the gut and stood with an uppercut punch upside the demon’s head. The blow whipped Azmodai to the ground.

 

“I’m not your son, you son of a bitch,” Simon said.

 

Azmodai climbed to his feet. His skin pealed back and tore away, revealing a body of pure black.

 

“Whatever you’re doing here…” Simon said. “It ends.”

 

“You’re too late, my boy…” Azmodai said as his eyes glowed with fire. “You’re too late…With the blood and power of your brothers…I will finally step foot onto the mortal plane in my true, physical form.”

 

Azmodai lunged and grabbed Simon in a chokehold. He pinned the ranger to the ground and punched his face, breaking his nose.

 

The demon lifted his hand and summoned waves of black wind, which circled his hand like a drill.

 

“Now, my son…I have need of you no longer…”

 

Simon narrowed his eyes and blasted Azmodai with a TK burst that hurled him backward.

 

Azmodai landed in the center of his star formation. He looked to his son and snarled. “It’s time.”

 

The demon slit his palm and slammed the ground, which erupted into an explosion of shadow energy.

 

***

 

Lauren, Eiji, Zadie and Shirogane rushed onto the top floor of the Hellfire Club mansion. They spotted the gateway that led to Azmodai’s pocket dimension.

 

“Okay,” Eiji said. “Let’s-”

 

The gateway exploded with a burst of shadow fire. Simon and his five siblings crashed onto the floor and skid backward. Their bodies sizzled with smoke and flickers of shadow flame.

 

Azmodai stood within the gateway. He looked down, took a step. And his foot touched the floor.

 

***

 

Outside, the Hellfire mansion fired a pulse of shadow energy that smashed against the combatants and hurled them through the air. The shockwave tore through the city’s Ley Lines and unraveled them.

 

Across the globe, lines of magical energy thrashed erratically. No longer did magical lines converge into knots, like the largest in Angel Grove. The planet’s power spread everywhere, lighting the world like a supernatural beacon.   

 

***

 

In his physical form, Azmodai set foot on the mortal plane for the first time, which broke the Third Seal.

 

image002The demon rolled his hands into fists and summoned black Soul Metal armor. The armor looked similar to Garo’s, but bulky and black, with a black cape. The villain carried a two-handed axe, and a sword attached to his waist.

 

Zadie rushed to Simon’s side and helped him sit up. “Looks like you’ve been busy…”

 

Simon pushed her aside. “Not now…”

 

The ranger stood and glared at Azmodai. He armed his morpher and swiped his hand across the device. But it sparked and shot off his wrist. “Son of a…”

 

Samuel climbed to his feet, as did Zen, R.J., and Zero. Owen crouched on the floor and cried, his pain still fresh.

 

Samuel ran to his youngest brother’s side and held him close. “Owen…It’s okay. It’s over now…”

 

“Over?” Azmodai said. “You’re not very bright, are you?”

 

Simon rolled his hands into fists, and black flames flickered across his knuckles.

 

Lauren ran to his side.

 

“Simon…” she said as she laid a hand on his shoulder. “Whatever you’re doing to yourself…You have to stop.”

 

“And you are?”

 

“I’m…I’m your sister.”

 

Simon scoffed and shrugged her off. “Then if you know what’s good for you, you’ll run. The people close to me tend to die.”

 

Simon lunged towards Azmodai. The villain swung his axe. But Simon ducked beneath the blow and punched his father’s gut.

 

Azmodai elbowed Simon’s back, knocking him to the floor.

 

Nearby, Samuel rose to his feet and armed his sword. He swung the blade through a ring of power. “Garo.”

 

He activated his Soul Metal armor and shot towards Azmodai. The demon swung his axe wide, and the weapon slashed Garo with enough force to hurl him across the room.  

 

Zero activated his armor and charged towards Garo. The Hellfire Knights clashed swords with bursts of spark.

 

“Are you serious?” Garo asked. He knocked the blades aside and slashed wide. But Zero parried and chopped. Garo blocked, and their swords locked. “You’re defending him?! After what just happened?! After what happened to Brandon?!”

 

“Nothing’s changed!” Zero shouted. “I won’t go back to the life I had before!”

 

Garo knocked Zero’s blades aside and swung upward, slashing the villain with a burst of spark.

 

R.J. staggered to stay on his feet nearby. Smoke still sizzled from his body. He still felt the power from the ceremony linger in his soul. He still felt the pain. And madness.

 

He remembered his father by adoption. Father Amantini. Killed by Hurricane Black. Killed by Azmodai.

 

Violet light flashed around him as he transformed into the armor of Gou, the Storm Knight.

 

Gou charged at Azmodai. But the villain turned with a backhand swing that swatted the Knight across the room. Gou splashed through the portal and vanished.

 

Azmodai staggered and collapsed to his knees. He leaned on his staff for support. The demon energies he absorbed from Simon threatened to rip his body apart.

 

Simon summoned his sword with a burst of black flame. “Something you ate?”

 

He swung upward, slashing the demon with a burst of spark that whipped his body backward.

 

Nearby, Lauren ran to Owen’s side and lifted him in her arms, carrying him to safety.

 

Eiji, Shirogane, and Zadie started to rush to help Simon. But Simon blasted them back with a burst of Kiryoku.

 

“Get out of here!” he shouted at them. “Now! Take Owen and go!”

 

Slowly, Zen summoned enough strength to unsheathe his sword and transform into the Flame Sword Knight. He eyed Lauren and the others and growled.

 

Garo noticed and slashed Zero aside. “Zen, keep away from them!”

 

Garo shot towards the Flame Sword Knight. But Zen chopped his blade, knocking Garo to the floor.

 

The Flame Sword Knight turned back towards Lauren. “Give me the boy…He’s my brother.”

 

“Not a chance,” Lauren said.

 

Shirogane and Eiji leapt at the Flame Sword Knight. Shirogane hurled a blade of blue energy, and Eiji threw his staff like a spear.

 

Zen swatted the energy blade and staff aside with bursts of spark.

 

The villain lifted his sword over his shoulder and shot towards Lauren. He tackled her; the impact hurled her across the room and knocked Owen from her arms.

 

The boy crashed and skid across the floor.

 

Lauren crashed against the floor and tumbled aside. She rolled to a stop next to her brother’s fallen morpher.

 

Zen grabbed Owen by the shirt and lifted him. “We’re not done with father’s-”

 

Owen screamed with a TK burst that hurled Zen backward and tore off half the ceiling, ripping apart the mansion’s roof. 

 

The pain and anger of the room’s combatants rippled through the boy’s mind like waves in a storm.

 

“Make! It! Stop!”

 

He fired another TK burst that hurled Simon and Azmodai through the portal. The blast twisted the portal, which collapsed upon itself with a burst of energy.

 

Zero slashed Garo aside and shot towards Owen. Zen climbed back to his feet and dashed towards his youngest sibling.

 

Nearby, Lauren acted without thinking. She reached for her brother’s morpher and strapped it to her wrist.

 

The words came from her mouth as if second nature. “Ninjetti change! Ha!”

 

She swiped her hand across the bracer and morphed into her Ranger form: Hurricane Red.

 

To be continued…Chapter 51