Chapter 52: Hurricane

Hell Scorn: Ultimate Civil War

 

The attacker pulled his sword from Simon’s back and kicked the ranger to the ground. Shirogane wiped his blade on his cloak and watched Simon die.

 

“Simon, no!” Samurai Red shouted as he rushed to attack Shirogane.

 

The former ranger turned and swung his blade, which fired a wave of blue energy that hurled the Red Ranger backward with bursts of spark.

 

Zadie flipped her knife and hurled the blade at Shirogane. But the hunter slashed the blade from the air. He lunged and kicked Zadie to the ground.

 

Eiji cursed beneath his breath and swung his staff into a fighting stance. But before he could attack, Shirogane slashed towards him. Eiji blocked the blow, but the impact knocked him off his feet.

 

An explosion erupted from beneath the Hellfire mansion, blowing the building to rubble. The shockwave rippled through Silver Hills with enough force to destroy every home, building and apartment in the suburb.

 

A massive creature rose from the wreckage. Stories high, its lupine body bent and leaned on all fours, unnaturally skinny with a hunched back.  Its skin looked pale white and leathery, and a single white eye looked out from its forehead. Long, black, mangled hair draped from its head.

 

The creature opened a gaping maw of pointed teeth and roared.

 

Shirogane leapt from the ground and landed on top of the beast. He looked towards the Rangers and hunters and aimed his sword.

 

“Kill them.”

 

Eiji rolled into a crouched stance and glared at the massive creature. “Alright, what the hell is going-

 

Zadie tackled him aside just as the massive creature smashed its palm against the ground with a thundering boom.

 

The hunter dove towards her dagger and rolled across the ground while lifting her weapon.

 

Nearby, Kamen Rider Faiz climbed to his feet and charged towards the creature. The beast swatted Faiz aside with the ease of swatting an insect.

 

The Samurai Rangers regrouped and armed their Spin Swords and elemental Symbol Discs. They spun their discs, sending tendrils of energy wrapping around their blades.

 

“Spin Swords!” the Rangers shouted. “Element Wave!”

 

They chopped their swords, firing blades of energy that cut through the monster with bursts of spark.

 

The creature howled with pain but clawed the Rangers off their feet with bursts of spark.

 

***

 

Samuel ignored the battle. He ignored the explosions and clashes, and the battle cries that accompanied the Rangers’ special attacks.

 

He kneeled next to Simon’s body and grasped the ranger’s shirt, tightening his fists.

 

The boy knitted his brow as tears streamed down his cheek. “Why didn’t you listen to me…Why?!”

 

Samuel lowered his head onto Simon’s chest and wept. He still remembered the joy he felt when meeting his brother. His brother. Samuel had finally found family. Now that family was broken. Gone. Scattered. Dead. 

 

“You can’t be dead…” Samuel said. “You can’t! Simon, wake up!”

 

So much pain. He felt it everywhere. From himself. From Zadie. Teddy. Ryan. Rachel. Justin.

 

But from Simon, he felt nothing.

 

“You’re really gone…” Samuel whispered. “Why didn’t you listen…?”

 

Samuel heard the nearby monster roar.

 

Monsters.

 

Rangers.

 

Monsters.

 

Rangers.

 

And endless cycle.

 

It had to stop.

 

Samuel grabbed his sword and stood. He swung the weapon through a ring and transformed into his Soul Metal armor.

 

His armor fired a pulse of green flame, and he shot towards the monster like a bullet.

 

The Knight punctured through the creature’s chest with bursts of spark and splatters of black ichor. He shot upward, then shot down while slashing the creature in two with massive eruptions of flame and blood.

 

Garo landed between the two halves of the creature’s body as they toppled to the ground.

 

Shirogane flipped from the dead monster and landed nearby.

 

Garo growled at the hunter. “Shirogane…Why? You wanted to help him!”

 

Shirogane turned and grinned, his face maddened. His skin paled, as did his hair. His eyes turned solid black except for silver irises.

 

“Shirogane can’t speak to you now, boy…” the hunter said, his voice thick with insanity, as he lifted his sword. “He’s busy, leading you all to the slaughter!”

 

Shirogane shot at Garo. But the Knight slashed him aside with a burst of spark. Shirogane flipped through the air to land on his feet, and he skid across the dirt.

 

“What will you do, Garo?” Shirogane asked. “Kill your friend?”

 

Eiji rushed from nearby. Hoi! Joso! Ketsu!

 

He formed a blue barrier around Shirogane and swung his hand down. Metsu!

 

The barrier exploded with a burst of blue flames that hurled Shirogane off his feet.

 

The former ranger crashed against the ground and rolled into a crouched stance. He placed his sword casually over his shoulder and leapt onto the burning wreckage of the Hellfire mansion.

 

“Poor little heroes…” Shirogane mocked. “Earth’s champions. Ha! Laughable. All of you…”

 

Zadie moved towards Eiji’s side and armed her knife. “What the hell’s wrong with him?”

 

Eiji shook his head. “He’s not possessed,” he said. “He looks just like Simon when he went berserk.”

 

Shirogane smiled. “It’s a mystery then. One for later, I’m afraid. Goodbye, my former friends.”

 

The former ranger leapt into the night.

 

***

 

Moridin smiled as he sat alone on a rooftop. He drank from a goblet of wine and looked in the direction of Silver Hills, where a pillar of smoke rose into the night sky.

 

“Somehow I thought this would be more difficult…” he said as he took a sip of wine.

 

***

 

The Samurai and Hurricane teams lost sight of Garo, Eiji, Zadie and Ryan after the battle with the giant demon creature. They returned to the Hayate Way, broken with feelings of loss.

 

Justin leaned against a tree and stared into the night.

 

Rachel walked towards him from behind. “Hey…”

 

“Hey…” Justin said. “How are…” He shook his head. “Stupid question.”

 

“I, uh…I can’t stop crying,” Rachel said as she walked towards him. She leaned against the same tree and crossed her arms over her chest, keeping her gaze low. “I keep wondering if we could have done something more. To help him…”

 

“Me too…” Justin said.

 

“I still don’t even understand what happened,” Rachel said. “I’m not even sure I believe it.”

 

“Maybe we can bring him back…” Justin said. “Like that Dark Man did with Kou.”

 

“Kou’s not…Kou,” Rachel said. “Even if we could do something like that…it wouldn’t be Simon.”

 

Justin shook his head. “He just wanted to find his family. That’s how this all started. That damn ring…”

 

Rachel leaned her head against his shoulder. “So what now…?”

 

Justin sighed. “I have no idea…”

 

***

 

Ryan sat next to Teddy in the dojo and held his hand. Teddy stared ahead aimlessly.

 

“Maybe if we hadn’t drifted apart…” Teddy said. “If I’d been there for him…”

 

“You can’t beat yourself up about this…” Ryan said.

 

“He was my best friend,” Teddy said. “I’ve known him since...forever. Since this all started. We were just kids…living in this world of heroes and monsters. We dreamed of being Rangers. Now…”

 

Teddy shook his head. “We were just kids.”

 

***

 

Tommy sat on the roof of the Hayate Way dojo. He stared ahead, his face grim.

 

Ashley walked onto the roof to join you. “Tommy…?”

 

He said nothing.

 

“Tommy…the others are hurting. They need you,” Ashley said.

 

“Do they?” Tommy asked. “Look what I got them involved with, Ashley. Remember when Ken was here? I couldn’t understand why he would just run off like that. Now? Now, I don’t blame him. This place is poison. We lost Simon. We almost lost Hunter, and god knows where he’s at now. Those Silver Guardians and ZECT Troopers? Dead. Those two Hellfire Knights? Dead. Three Seals broken, and I haven’t done a damn thing to stop any of it.”

 

“You’ve dedicated your whole life to-”

 

“I don’t want a pep talk, Ashley,” Tommy said, harsher than he meant. “Simon was one of the first people there for me after I broke free from Bandora’s curse. He was just a kid…but he saw something in me. He made me feel like I could be something more than just an evil pawn. And what did I do for him? Was I there to save him from himself? No. I wasn’t. Not at all. I failed him. Completely.”

 

Ashley walked closer to Tommy and sat next to him. They stayed silent for a moment before Ashley spoke.

 

“You know what I think we need to do?” she asked.

 

“What?”

 

“You’re not going to like it…”

 

“That’s OK…”

 

“Get away for a while,” she said. “The two of us, take Tyler, and go.”

 

Tommy knitted his brow. “We can’t abandon the Rangers.”

 

“I’m not talking about abandoned them,” she said. “Right before the first Countdown to Destruction, what did Zordon do? He left Earth. For his home…”

 

“I’m not Zordon…” Tommy said.

 

“I know that,” Ashley said. “But when he left, he wasn’t abandoning us. He was regrouping. Taking some time to figure things out. That’s what we need to do. Regroup. Just the two of us. When we fought Jakanja, and even last year, we were a team. You and me. But lately…something’s been off. After everything that happened with Simon and Hunter…with Teddy and the Vorlock…this whole past year…you’ve changed. And we haven’t been as close.”

 

She reached out and took his hand. “Let’s figure us out. Because you’re right. You’re not Zordon. You’re not Kaku. But the two of us together? That’s when we’re strongest. That’s when we’re there for the Rangers the most, in the way we need to be.”

 

Tommy shook his head. “I can’t even…Do you know how selfish that sounds? I know something’s been off with us, but we can’t go on a retreat while the Forsaken-”

 

Silver Guardian sirens blared in the distance.

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “You’ve got to be kidding me…”

 

***

 

Commander Kruger and the DECA team personally led a group of Silver Guardians towards the Hayate Way.

 

The commander walked with his hands behind his back. He took no joy in his task. No pleasure. In fact, he regretted the actions he needed to take.

 

Kruger stopped in the courtyard and faced the dojo. “Tommy!”

 

Tommy dropped into the courtyard with Ryuuseikin in hand. “Kruger…”

 

“I don’t want this to get ugly, Tommy. Drop the sword.”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “This is my home…”

 

“And I’ve done all that I can to leave you alone,” Kruger said. “We’ve fought alongside each other. I’ve called you a friend. A comrade. But now…two of your men have crossed the line. Hunter Lee and Simon Kaden. Hand them over…and we’ll go quietly.”

 

“Simon is dead,” Tommy said. “And Hunter is gone. So take your toy soldiers and go.”

 

Kruger growled softly. “I’m under strict orders-”

 

“Billy couldn’t come here himself?”

 

“He’s a busy man,” Kruger said.

 

“Clearly…”

 

“Tommy, one of your Rangers led the Hand and nearly wiped out all of Angel Grove East. Another killed dozens of Silver Guardians and ZECT Troopers, and wiped out entire neighborhoods,” Kruger said. “You were their leader. Take responsibility for their actions. Don’t let them hide-”

 

“They’re. Not. Here.” Tommy tightened his grip on his sword. Guilt and rage tightened his throat.

 

Several Silver Guardian SUVs sped into the courtyard. The vehicles pulled to a   halt, and dozens of Silver Guardians filed out and fanned across the courtyard.

 

“Hold,” Kruger said to his men. “Tommy, you’re a good man. Drop the sword, and we’ll talk this out.”

 

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Tommy said. “Simon is dead. Hunter is gone. This is my home, and Billy’s army’s not welcome here.”

 

The Hayate Way doors opened as Teddy, Ryan and Anthony stepped outside.

 

Teddy knitted his brow. “Tommy, what’s going on…?”

 

“Get back inside,” Tommy said. “Then take Ashley and Tyler and go. It’s not safe here…”

 

“Tommy-”

 

“Go,” Tommy said.

 

“Tommy,” Kruger said. “I can’t let anyone leave until you hand over Simon and Hunter.”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “Billy’s been waiting for this…hasn’t he? Well, he picked the wrong day. He wants to try taking me down? He wants a Ranger Civil War? Tell him he’s got one.”

 

Tommy stabbed his sword into the ground, which ignited into a wave of flames that spread between the dojo and SPD forces.

 

Nat and his team dove aside and armed their morphers.

 

“SPD...” They thrust their badges forward. “Emergency!”

 

Sam armed his Throttle Brace. “Emergency…DECA Break!”

 

They morphed into their armor with flashes of light.

 

Anthony, Teddy and Ryan jumped into the courtyard and armed their morphers. “Samurai scribe! Ha!”

 

Energy wrapped around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

Commander Kruger growled and armed his badge. “Emergency!” He thrust the badge forward. “DECA Shadow!”

 

DECA Shadow dashed through the flames towards Tommy.

 

“Tommy, I told you I didn’t want-”

 

Tommy jumped forward and kicked DECA Shadow upside the head. The former ranger landed, spun forward, and slashed the Shadow Ranger with a burst of spark.

 

“I’m done holding back,” Tommy said. “Take your Rangers and leave. Now.”

 

DECA Shadow shifted into a defensive stance. “Did you ever consider that Dr. Cranston may be right? That giving powers to untrained kids is wrong? Maybe if you two had worked together, the world would be different right now.”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “Had it crossed my mind? Sure. Then he dropped off his army at my door the day I lost my…” He shook his head. “Like I said, he picked the wrong day.”

 

Tommy dashed towards DECA Shadow and slashed wide. DECA Shadow parried and hopped backward to gain distance.

 

“You don’t have Ranger armor, Tommy,” DECA Shadow said. “If I fight back, you’ll get hurt.”

 

“I highly doubt that.”

 

Tommy thrust his hand and fired a burst of Ki that hurled the Shadow Ranger off his feet.

 

***

 

The other members of the Samurai team — Bradin, Anna, and Kirsten — along with Lauren, Blake and Kou, rushed outside when they heard the commotion.

 

In the courtyard, Samurai Red and Samurai Blue hopped at DECA Red and slashed him to the ground with bursts of spark.

 

Silver Guardians opened fire at the two Rangers.

 

Samurai Gold dashed in front of the bullets and slashed them from the air with bursts of spark.

 

Blake narrowed his eyes. “Well this officially sucks.”

 

A squad of Guardians broke formation and rushed towards the mansion entrance.

 

“Seriously?” Blake said. “You guys know there are two Ranger teams here, right? Last I checked, you guys have one.”

 

Blake thrust his palm and fired a bolt of lightning. The blast exploded between the soldiers and hurled them backward.

 

Anna looked to her teammates. “Ashley and Tyler are still inside.”

 

“Better there than out here,” Bradin said as he armed his morpher.

 

Kirsten placed a hand on Bradin’s arm. “One of us should stay with them…”

 

Anna nodded. “I’ll stay. You guys help the others.”

 

“Kou!” Byakkou shouted from Kou’s morpher. “This is madness! Rangers should not be fighting Rangers!”

 

“Tell that to the ones who attacked us,” Kou said.

 

Anna went inside, and the others armed their morphers.

 

“Samurai scribe! Ha!”

 

“Ninjetti change! Ha!”

 

Energy wrapped and stormed around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms and joined the battle.

 

They knocked out several Silver Guardians without killing them as they moved towards the DECA Rangers, who fought against Samurai Red, Samurai Gold and Samurai Blue.

 

Navy Thunder slashed DECA Green with a burst of spark.

 

Samurai Green swung upward, and his blade slashed DECA Break aside.

 

DECA Red fired his D-Magnums. The bullets blasted the Rangers with bursts of spark.

 

But Hurricane Green charged through the bullets and slashed towards the Red Ranger.

 

DECA Red sidestepped. But Hurricane Green snapped around and slashed the Red Ranger back with a burst of spark.

 

Samurai Red moved to the Green Ranger’s side. “Byakko, where are Ashley and Tyler?”

 

“They’re inside, but the Pink Samurai Ranger is staying with them,” Byakko said.

 

Samurai Red nodded. “Good,” he said. “Ryan, come with me. We’re helping Tommy. The rest of you, hold off the Guardians and DECA Rangers.”

 

***

 

The Jet-zords circled the Hayate Way. Aero Red narrowed his eyes beneath his helmet when he saw a signal flash on his console.

 

“The Guardians just called for back-up,” he said through the commline. “That’s our cue.”

 

***

 

DECA Shadow dashed and swung his sword wide. But Tommy parried the blow and kicked the Shadow Ranger. The blow knocked the Ranger several steps backward.

 

“It’s not too late to end this, Kruger,” Tommy said. “Before someone else gets hurt.”

 

“I was about to say the same to you,” DECA Shadow said as he shifted his sword into an offense stance.

 

Suddenly, Samurai Red and Samurai Blue leapt towards DECA Shadow from behind. The Rangers landed while chopping their blades.

 

But DECA Shadow lifted his sword and blocked their chops. The Two Samurai Rangers stepped back, spun, and swung low, slashing the Shadow Ranger’s gut with bursts of spark that knocked him several steps backward.

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “I told you to-”

 

Samurai Red looked to his brother. “Anna’s with Ashley and Tyler.”

 

“Go with her, get your team, and-”

 

DECA Shadow lunged towards the Red Ranger with a slash. But Samurai Red sidestepped to avoid the blow, and Samurai Blue kicked the Shadow Ranger backward.

 

Samurai Red swung upward, slashing the Shadow Ranger with a burst of spark.

 

Tommy lowered his sword as he watched. Did they even need him anymore?

 

Maybe not…But Ashley and Tyler did. Tommy ran towards the dojo for his fiancé and son.

 

***

 

DECA Green shook his head as he dodged a swing of Samurai Yellow’s blade. “Why are we fighting again?”

 

You attacked us,” Samurai Yellow said as she lunged with a chop DECA Green dodged.

 

“If I remember correctly, first, two of your teammates-”

 

The Yellow Ranger slashed him off his feet with a burst of spark.

 

From above, the five Jet Force Rangers glided through the air. They landed in the courtyard and snapped into fighting stances.

 

Navy Thunder cursed beneath his breath. “The birds…”

 

Black Condor unsheathed his sword and aimed the blade at Navy Thunder. “You going to run this time?”

 

“I’m thinking no,” Navy Thunder said as he charged to attack.

 

“Good…” Black Condor said as he returned the charge.

 

***

 

Hurricane Red slashed DECA Red off his feet with a burst of spark. She shifted into a defensive stance when she saw Aero Red rush towards her.

 

The Red Jet Force Ranger armed his Aero Saber. “You’re not Simon…”

 

“Simon’s dead,” Hurricane Red said.

 

The Red Jet Force Ranger hopped forward and chopped his sword. But Hurricane Red sidestepped and slashed his gut with a burst of spark.

 

Close by, DECA Red rolled into a crouched stance and opened fire. His D-Magnums blasted Hurricane Red with bursts of spark that whipped her to the ground.

 

***

 

DECA Break stepped back and armed his Throttle Brace. “Electric Fist!”

 

The Ranger slapped his palm against the ground. Tendrils of electricity lashed from his hand, snaked across the ground, and shot towards Samurai Gold.

 

But the Gold Ranger leapt backward to avoid the blast.

 

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

 

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

 

Samurai Gold dashed back and forth past DECA Break while slashing through streaks of golden light. His blade pulsed with power that thrashed DECA Break’s armor with massive bursts of spark.

 

***

 

Samurai Green and Hurricane Green stood back-to-back as DECA Blue, DECA Pink, Yellow Owl, White Swan, and Blue Swallow surrounded them.

 

“So…” Hurricane Green said. “Did the others just forget about us?”

 

“Looks that way,” Samurai Green said.

 

DECA Blue aimed his D-Blaster. “Drop your swords, and come in quietly.”

 

“Don’t you think it’s a little late for that?” Samurai Green asked.

 

Suddenly, blurs of motion streaked past Cranston’s Rangers with bursts of spark, whipping them backward.

 

Hurricane Blue and Hurricane Yellow landed in crouched positions with their swords held over their shoulders.

 

***

 

Silver Guardians stormed into the Hayate Way dojo. A trio of soldiers bashed their way into the stairwell leading underground to Ops.

 

But Anna stood on the stairwell.

 

She used her morpher to write the kanji for “wind” and swiped her brush through the symbol. The kanji ignited with a gust of wind that hurled the Guardians backward.

 

Another wave of Guardians followed and opened fire at the teen. Samurai Pink morphed just as the bullets blasted her down the stairwell with bursts of spark.

 

The Guardians charged downstairs into Ops, to find Ashley huddled in the back of the room while holding Tyler.

 

The Guardians stalked towards her. “Just tell us where-”

 

Ashley dashed from the shadows and bashed the Guardians to the ground. She struck hard and fast, moving with strength and skill honed during her time as an Astro Ranger.

 

She walked to her computer terminal and turned off the holographic projection of herself and Tyler.

 

Samurai Pink stepped into the room. “They’re inside,” Samurai Pink said. “They’re everywhere.”

 

“We need to leave.” Ashley walked to a wall and opened a small panic room, where Tyler hid. She smiled reassuringly. “Tyler…we’re going to go, OK?”

 

“Where’s dad?” young Tyler asked.

 

“We’ll see him, I promise,” Ashley said. “He’s just-”

 

A stun grenade rolled down the stairs and exploded, knocking out Ashley and Tyler and blasting back Samurai Pink.

 

***

 

Black Condor armed his Wing Gauntlet and swung a punch at Navy Thunder. The Navy Thunder Ranger dodged and slashed wide, striking the Black Ranger’s chest with a burst of spark.

 

Navy Thunder hopped with a hook kick that bashed the Black Ranger’s helmet. Black Condor spun with the blow and swung the back of his fist.

 

But Navy Thunder jumped backward to avoid the blow. 

 

Navy Thunder swung his Thunder Staff over his shoulder, and the Stag Breaker attached to the end of the staff with a burst of navy-tinted lightning.

 

“Lightning Style!” Navy Thunder shouted. “Thunder Strike Jutsu!”

 

Navy Thunder channeled his energy into the staff, which crackled with bolts of electricity.

 

Navy Thunder swung the weapon through an x-shaped pattern that streaked with lightning and slashed Black Condor with bursts of spark. 

 

***

 

DECA Red charged at Hurricane Red while opening fire with his D-Magnums. Hurricane Red slashed the bullets from the air with bursts of spark but struggled to keep up.

 

“Why are you doing this?” she shouted.

 

Red Hawk leapt towards her and held his blade high.

 

Hurricane Red leapt backward and started to snap a volley of throwing stars from her morpher. But Red Hawk dashed past her with a slash that sparked on impact and knocked her to the ground.

 

The Red Aero Ranger landed and pulled out his Aero Blaster. “You people have destroyed entire neighborhoods. Entire city blocks. It ends here.”

 

***

 

Hurricane Yellow thrust his palm forward. “Seismic Storm!”

 

He fired a yellow blast of seismic energy that streaked towards his opponents.

 

Hurricane Blue placed her right fist against her left palm. “Tempest Wave!”

 

She summoned a vortex of hydro energy that surrounded her like a tornado. She thrust her hands forward, and the cyclone surged towards her opponents.

 

The seismic wave and hydro cyclone combined into an elemental force that blasted past DECA Blue, DECA Yellow, Yellow Owl, White Swan and Blue Swallow. The impact hurled them through the air, towards the woods that surrounded the dojo.

 

***

 

Samurai Gold dashed at DECA Break. But the DECA Ranger dropped and kicked low, sweeping the legs out from beneath the Gold Ranger. Samurai Gold crashed and skid forward.

 

DECA Break turned to face the fallen Ranger. “You’re better than any meta-criminal I’ve fought, that’s for sure. But at the end of the day? I was trained by the best.”

 

“Yeah? Well ‘the best’ must really suck,” Samurai Gold said.

 

He shot forward, kneed DECA Break in the gut, and bashed an elbow against the back of his neck, dropping him to the ground.

 

“You suck too, by the way,” Samurai Gold said. “That was implied…but I want to be clear.”

 

***

 

Samurai Red and Samurai Blue slashed towards opposite sides of DECA Shadow. But the Shadow Ranger slashed them aside with bursts of spark.

 

“You’re excellent fighters,” DECA Shadow said. “But you’re children. I’ve been fighting evil since before you were born.”

 

“Is that supposed to impress us?” Samurai Blue asked.

 

Samurai Red and Samurai Blue spun their swords’ Symbol Discs and fired waves of energy that blasted DECA Shadow with bursts of spark and hurled them backward.

 

***

 

Tommy rushed into Ops to find Anna kneeling next to Ashley and Tyler, unconscious.

 

His face paled. “No…”

 

“They’re OK, just unconscious,” Anna said.

 

“We need to get them out of here,” Tommy said.

 

“How?” Anna asked. “The whole dojo’s crawling with Silver Guardians.”

 

“Not anymore.”

 

“You didn’t…”

 

“I’m not a killer,” Tommy said. “But I took them down. Let’s go…”

 

***

 

DECA Blue, DECA Pink and DECA Yellow regrouped and charged towards Samurai Green and Hurricane Green.

“SWAT Mode on!”

 

The three DECA Rangers activated their SWAT armor: vests, leg guards, arm guards, headsets, and blaster rifles called D-Revolvers. The Rangers slid their badges into their D-Revolvers, which powered up the weapons.

 

“D-Revolvers!” DECA Blue shouted. “Fire!”

 

The DECA Rangers opened fire with rapid pulses of orange-tinted energy. Hurricane Green and Samurai Green dove aside to avoid the blasts.

 

They rolled to their feet and stood side-by-side. 

 

The Green Hurricane Ranger pulled a small sphere from behind his back. “Sonic Style! Spinning Barrage Jutsu!”

 

He tossed the sphere upward as he would a baseball; and the ball created dozens of sonic echoes that dropped in front of the Ranger. Hurricane Green spun like a tornado and swung his holstered sword like a bat to knock the spheres through the air.

 

Samurai Green spun his Symbol Disc. “Wood Spear!”

 

His sword transformed into a spear with a pulse of green light. He twisted the spear through a 180-degree arc. “Leaf Vortex!”

 

A vortex of wind lashed out like a tornado, with green, leaf-like energy blades. The vortex swept up Hurricane Green’s attack and hurled the spheres at the DECA Rangers with massive force.

 

The energized spheres exploded against the Ranger with massive bursts of spark. And the Leaf Vortex expanded like a tornado, blowing past them as the energy blades slashed their armor with bursts of spark and hurled them through the air.

 

***

 

Red Hawk slashed Hurricane Red with bursts of spark that hurled her backward. His helmet’s communicator toned, and he listened to the Silver Guardians’ report.

 

The Red Jet Force Ranger looked towards his scattered teammates. “Simon and Hunter aren’t here. Move back…”

 

He activated his communicator.

 

The Jet Garuda swooped through the skies and flew towards the Hayate Way.

 

White Swan ran to Red Hawk’s side. “Christopher…we don’t have to do this. If Simon and Hunter aren’t here…”

 

“We can’t let this school stand, Kristen,” Red Hawk said. The Red Ranger looked to the Jet Garuda. “Jet Garuda, fire!”

 

The Hayate Way’s magical wards protected the school from evil intruders. But not Rangers or zords.

 

The Jet Garuda opened fire with massive energy blasts that tore through the Hayate Way with bursts of flame. The zord fired blast after blast, pulverizing the school with massive shockwaves that hurled the Rangers through the air. 

 

***

 

DECA Shadow climbed to his feet and growled. Smoke clouded the air. He looked towards the smoldering crater where the Hayate Way dojo once stood.

 

The Shadow Ranger rolled his hands into fists and stormed towards the Aero Rangers, who regrouped.

 

Red Hawk gave orders to his teammates. “Get the other Rangers before they recover.”

 

“Aero Red!” DECA Shadow barked. “What have you done? Our orders were to apprehend Hunter and Simon, not blow up a school. A home!”

 

Your orders were to apprehend Simon and Hunter,” Aero Red said. “Our orders were to take down the Hayate Way.”

 

Nearby, Samurai Red and the other Rangers climbed to their feet. The Red Ranger opened his eyes wide with horror and looked towards the blazing crater of the former Hayate Way.

 

“Tommy…Ashley…”

 

Anna’s voice spoke through his communicator. “Teddy, we’re okay,” she said. “Tommy and I have Ashley and Tyler on the other side of the...” She paused. “Just get over here. Fast.”

 

“We’re on our way,” Samurai Red said.

 

The Samurai and Hurricane Rangers leapt into the distance.

 

***

 

EPILOGUE 1

 

Dr. William “Billy” Cranston sat behind his desk and laced his fingers. He felt the mad shouts of the Dark Shaper in the back of his mind, but ignored them. Or at least he tried to.

 

The communicator on his desk beeped, and he answered. His secretary spoke. “Dax is here to see you.”

 

“Good,” Cranston said. “Send him in.”

 

The doors opened, and Dax walked into the dimly lit office. “I see you still have that creepy scientist vibe going,” Dax said. “Good for you.”

 

“What is it you wanted to talk to me about, Dax?” Cranston asked.

 

“I heard you blew up a school,” Dax said. “Majorly hypocritical.”

 

“I thought you might think so,” Cranston said. “Which is why I left your team out of it.

 

“My, that’s thoughtful,” Dax said sarcastically. “Thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome,” Cranston said.

 

“Why’d you do it?” Dax asked.

 

“Why curious?” Cranston said.

 

“I’m deciding whether I should drag you outside and stomp you with my Megazord,” Dax said.

 

Cranston smirked. “My Megazord…”

 

“Stomp, stomp,” Dax said. “Why’d you do it?”

 

Cranston pressed a button on his table and activated several holographic screens. The screens showed images of Simon attacking Silver Guardians and ZECT Troopers. Others showed video of Hunter leading the Hand and Ikkazuchi ninja. The images flickered: The damage in Angel Grove West, Angel Grove East, Angel Grove South and then Silver Hills.”

 

Dax pointed at the image of Silver Hills. “So all the destruction wasn’t an issue until it ticked off the rich people in Silver Hills.”

 

“You mean killed all the rich people in Silver Hills. That was the last straw,” Cranston said. “But leading up to that, the Hayate Way caused more death and destruction than VOLT ever did.”

 

“That depends on your perspective,” Dax said.

 

“Does it?” Cranston said. “He recruits teenagers, tells them they’re special, drags them into war, then acts surprised when they snap.”

 

“Yeah, I’m like, a junior in high school or something. Did we even have grades in Academia?”

 

“That’s different,” Cranston said. “You chose to be a Ranger. So did the DECA team.”

 

“But not all of Jet Force-”

 

“No, but you were all trained and conditioned,” he said. “You worked as part of a unit. More importantly…none of you went rogue.”

 

Dax knitted his brow. “I’m a freaking genius, remember? I think all that crap you just said, I think you believed that at some point. But now…now I think you just say that. Like it’s an excuse, to cover what you’re really up to. And I’m assuming it’s something you wouldn’t want this Tommy guy to know about, and if he did, he’d try to wipe you off the map. Just like you did with him.”

 

Cranston deactivated all the monitors except for one single image. The image showed the Earth circled with a grid of glowing lines.

 

“These are Ley Lines,” Cranston said. “Lines of energy that circle our planet. These lines intersect at certain points, creating knots of power, which attract supernatural forces. Control a large enough intersection, and one could feasibly control the energies of the entire planet. The biggest intersection was in Angel Grove City.”

 

“Was?” Dax asked.

 

The image shifted. The lines unraveled and spread, until their glow covered the whole Earth.

 

“Was,” Cranston said. “Now the whole planet is essentially one giant knot of energy.” 

 

Cranston leaned forward on his desk. “You’re a genius, so you should understand what this means.”

 

“Yeah, the whole planet is one big supernatural beacon now,” Dax said. “It’s not that complicated.”

 

“Good,” Cranston said. “This puts every city and town across the planet at equal risk of attack.”

 

“Well, I doubt the forces of darkness are interested in Normal, Indiana, so I think they’ll be fine,” Dax said. “Why are you telling me this?

 

“So you can make an informed answer to this question: Do you want to stand here and question my actions, and try to get inside my head. Or do you want to help me stop the threats that are about to pop up all over the world?”

 

“Well…” Dax said. “You do know how to make a point. You don’t have a problem if I work for you, but still think you’re an evil scientist with a secret agenda? One which I plan to uncover, and ultimately, stop?”

 

“The dynamic’s worked so far,” Cranston said. “Why change it.”

 

***

 

EPILOGUE 2

 

Days passed. Kruger sat in the DECA Base command room. The commander surveyed the most recent reports of the battle damage surrounding the Hayate Way.

 

Somehow, the battle at the dojo blackened the surrounding area, killing all trees and wildlife, and coloring the mountains the shade of ash.

 

People now called the area the Blackened Mountains.

 

The command room doors opened, and Nat stepped inside to give his latest report.

 

Kruger looked up from his monitor. “Any word?”

 

Nat shook his head. “No trace of Oliver or his Rangers. I’m starting to think they didn’t make it…”

 

“They escaped,” Kruger said. “I’m sure of it…”

 

“If that’s the case...what happens when we find them?” Nat asked.

 

“We bring them in,” Kruger said. “Safely…What happened at the Hayate Way was a mistake. I won’t let something like that happen again. But I can’t excuse Tommy’s actions either. We tried to reason with him, and he attacked us.”

 

“We showed up with an army at his doorstep,” Nat said. “I want Hunter and Simon brought in just as much as anyone, but the other Rangers…”

 

“We’ve done what we could to stay out of their way,” Kruger said. “But Tommy said it himself. This is war. And as far as I’m concerned, his people struck the first blow.”

 

***

 

EPILOGUE 3

 

Tommy and Ashley waited in an abandoned warehouse in Angel Grove West, near the Glimmering Coast.

 

The former ranger stood as his students entered. The Hurricane team: Lauren, Justin, Rachel, Blake and Kou. The Samurai team: Teddy, Anthony, Bradin, Ryan, Anna and Kirsten.

 

“Did any of you run into any trouble on the way?” he asked.

 

Teddy shook his head. “No…but we had a few close calls these past couple days.”

 

Ryan nodded. “The Silver Guardians are looking for us everywhere. We can’t even go home…”

 

Rachel crossed her arms over her chest and lowered her head. “I still can’t believe this happened…that Jet Force would do something so…”

 

“Reckless,” Justin said.

 

“Arrogant,” Blake said. “I hate those birds…”

 

“I don’t blame you,” Tommy said. “But we can worry about Jet Force later. It’s time to talk about our next steps. That’s why I called you all here.  After what happened with Simon, and the Hayate Way, Ashley and I are going to take Tyler and lay low.”

 

Bradin knitted his brow. “You’re bailing on us?”

 

“It’s not like that,” Tommy said. “What we’ve been doing here? It hasn’t been working. We have too many enemies, and they’re gaining momentum. Now we have Billy to deal with.”

 

“He’s been a pain in our ass for three years,” Blake said. “That doesn’t mean you have to-”

 

“Blake, he destroyed the Hayate Way,” Tommy said. “He’s not pulling punches anymore. Wes warned me it would get to this point. Now it’s happened. And in the meantime, the Forsaken are out there, and they have four Seals to go before they free the Dark One.”

 

He looked to Ashley with pain and regret. “Ashley and I need some time to regroup, just the two of us. To figure everything out.”

 

“So what are we supposed to do?” Justin asked.

 

“Keep staying out of sight, if you can,” Tommy said. “For now. This isn’t permanent. This isn’t goodbye. But we just lost Simon, and our home. Ashley and Tyler barely made it out of there. If they hadn’t…”

 

Tommy shook his head. “I have to make sure Tyler is safe.”

 

“Where will you go?” Anna asked.

 

“I can’t tell you,” Tommy said. “The less you know, the better.”

 

Kirsten shook her head. “This isn’t right. After everything we’ve just been through? We should stick together. We need each other.”

 

Blake scoffed. “You barely even knew Simon. Don’t act like you’re hurting as much as we are.”

 

Bradin narrowed his eyes at Blake. “Don’t talk to her like that.”

 

“Boys, stop it,” Rachel said. “Not now…”

 

“Take some time for yourselves,” Tommy said. “Because as much as I hate to admit it…Billy’s right about one thing. I never should have dragged you into this mess.”

 

***

 

EPILOGUE 4

 

Zadie chased a demon-possessed man down an alley in Seattle and stabbed him through the back. Light sizzled beneath his skin as the blade burnt the demon from the man’s soul.

 

Zadie pulled her knife free, and the man slumped to the ground.

 

“I can hear you, slick,” she said. “You’re not as sneaky as you think you are…”

 

Eiji stepped from the shadows.

 

“Zadie…”

 

“Yeah, I know my name,” she said. “Why are you following me?”

 

“To talk,” Eiji said. “Or are we just going to pretend everything we went through this past year never happened.”

 

“I was going to go with the pretend thing,” Zadie said. “I thought I could use Simon to stop Azmodai. I was wrong. What do you want me to do, Eiji? Cry on your shoulder? Ask you to hold me?”

 

“Don’t act like that,” Eiji said.

 

“Like what?”

 

“A bitch,” Eiji said. “I know Simon meant a lot to you. I know you’re hurting…”

 

“You don’t know anything, monk,” Zadie said. “So why don’t you take your useless barrier magic and get the hell away from me.”

 

Eiji backed away. “You know what, fine. I never asked for this. I was fine on my own, hunting the Ashu.”

 

“Then go hunt,” Zadie said.

 

Eiji turned and stormed from the alley.

 

Zadie waited several moments before she spoke. “And you’re not as sneaky as you think you are either…”

 

The Dark Man chuckled as he stepped from the shadows. “Hello, Zadie. It’s been a long time.”

 

“Not long enough,” Zadie said. “We had a deal.”

 

“I sent Simon to you so you could forge him into a weapon,” the Dark Man said. “A weapon to aim at Azmodai. He was supposed to stop the demon, and die in the process.”

 

“He sucked up more demons than a Babylonian whore,” Zadie said. “It’s not my faulty it didn’t work.”

 

“It is…” the Dark Man said. “The demons you chose were irrelevant…except for one. One you neglected. One I specifically told you to target. The originator of the demon line that eventually possessed your father.”

 

“Lilith…”

 

“Lilith,” the Dark Man said. “Without her power, you knew the ceremony wouldn’t kill Azmodai, or Simon. You grew…fond of him. And wanted him to live. Touching…”

 

“Simon’s dead,” Zadie said. “You got part of what you wanted. So let me-”

 

“Simon is dead because I sent Shirogane the moment I felt you might hesitate,” the Dark Man said.

 

Zadie narrowed her eyes. “He…”

 

“I intended him to lead you to Lilith, when Simon was ready,” the Dark Man said. “But the three of you separated after the incident with Owen in Silver Hills. By the time you reunited, it was already too late. Shirogane knew what to do if Simon missed his opportunity. He knew he had to kill the ranger.”

 

Zadie shook her head. “No way you could have pulled something like that off. They were friends...”

 

“Shirogane is a rather unique individual,” the Dark Man said. “He was born of a woman possessed by a demon, and he himself served as a host for a demon for centuries. This made him susceptible to a very deep, very dark, form of possession. I found a demon to stay hidden within Shirogane’s soul, and manipulate him, subtlety. Then when the time came, when Simon failed, the demon took full control and killed Simon.”

 

Zadie narrowed her eyes. “You son of a bitch. Why did you need him dead? He could have still gone after Azmodai. He could have-”

 

“No, he missed his chance,” the Dark Man said. “And with the Third Seal broken, I couldn’t afford to delay my timetable.”

 

“Screw your timetable,” Zadie said. “We had a deal. So give me back my brother.”

 

“I am a man who honors his word,” the Dark Man said. “And we did have a deal…but as I said, you did not fulfill your end of this bargain.”

 

Zadie unsheathed her dagger and lunged.

 

The Dark Man casually waved his hand and suspended Zadie in strands of invisible energy.

 

“Now, now…” the Dark Man said. “I do despise direct violence.”

 

“Why bring me into this?” Zadie said. “Why me?”

 

“Because you have the blood of Lilith in your veins,” the Dark Man said. “Because you had the fiery potential to push Simon further, to help develop the darkness that already started to fester inside of him. You were his first kiss, Zadie. Did you know that? How tragic…”

 

He released his grasp, and Zadie collapsed to the ground.

 

“I came to say goodbye,” the Dark Man said. “My need for you has ended…”

 

“My brother…” Zadie said.

 

“I am afraid he will stay dead…” the Dark Man said. “Goodbye, Zadie…I wouldn’t worry about the loss of Simon. I’m not through with him yet…”

 

The Dark Man stepped into the shadows.

 

***

 

His vision blurred slowly into focus.

 

He looked up to see clouds of black flame plummet downward, through crimson skies.

 

Screams of anguish came from every direction.

 

He panicked, and his heart raced.

 

He looked to his side to see Moridin standing, a smile on his face.

 

“Hello, Simon. Welcome to Hell…Are you finally ready to listen to what I have to say?”

 

THE END

To be continued…Year Four