Ultimate Hurricane: Recap

 

Hunter and his brother Blake trained at the Ikkazuchi Way throughout their childhood. Their psychotic father pushed them to a life of violence.

 

Hunter and Blake eventually pushed past their twisted history and joined the Hurricane Power Rangers as Crimson Thunder and Navy Thunder.

 

To right their wrongs, Hunter and Blake traveled to Japan and took control of the Ikkazuchi. Hunter aimed to turn the Ikkazuchi into a force for justice, and as one of his first acts, he attacked the ninja assassins called the Hand.

 

A secret organization called the Snakeroot Clan manipulated Hunter from the shadows. The Snakeroot planned to use Hunter to return the Ikkazuchi into a force of great evil and power.

 

Hunter became corrupt, and a Phantom Demon nearly burst from his body and soul. He suppressed the demon, but it still corrupted his thoughts and motives.

 

Kamen Rider Wizard killed the Phantom Demon within Hunter, freeing him from its influence. Afterward, Hunter left the Rangers and wandered aimlessly. 

 

Meanwhile, the remaining Hurricane Power Rangers: Blake, Rachel, Justin, Kou and Lauren, scattered and went into hiding.

 

Hurricane: One-shot

Crimson Rebirth

 

PART ONE: Hunter

 

Hunter walked aimlessly surrounded by New Mexico’s desert. He needed the space. He needed the…nothingness.

 

The teen tried not to think about what he walked away from. He tried not to think about what he left behind. The Rangers. His brother. His sins. He almost wiped out the entire city because of his weakness.

 

Hunter adjusted his shoulder bag.

 

The teen spotted a small diner off the road ahead, and he felt his stomach grumble. When did he last eat? He couldn’t remember.

 

Hunter walked into the diner and took a seat. He saw no one except for the waitress, a plump woman in her early 40s, Janie Sue.    

 

She eyed him quizzically as she handed him a menu. “Car break down?”

 

“I’m sorry?” Hunter asked.

 

“I didn’t hear no car,” she said.

 

“I…walked,” Hunter said.

 

“All the way across the Badlands? You plumb crazy?”

 

“I don’t mind walking,” Hunter said. “It clears my head.”

 

“Fries your brains, is more like it,” she said. She knitted her brow with suspicion. “So…You got business in town?”

 

“Just passing through,” Hunter said.

 

“We don’t exactly get a lot of sightseers around here,” she said.

 

Janie Sue poured him a cup of coffee and took his order — he said the special was fine.

 

She walked into the kitchen and picked up the phone.

 

***

 

Hunter stepped out of the diner. He walked to the side of the building and spotted a young boy sitting on the curb. He looked sad and lonely, with his shoulders hunched and head down, as he flipped a coin.

 

The boy noticed Hunter and looked up. He squinted, then opened his eyes wide with recognition.

 

“Hey…I saw you on TV…You’re one of the Rangers!” he said.

 

Hunter shook his head. “I doubt a Ranger would come all the way out here.”

 

“You are,” the boy said, a smile of hope on his face. “It’s all over the news. My name’s Wyatt. Which one are you? The Red one? Did you come here to stop them?”

 

Hunter knitted his brow. “Stop who?”

 

A pick-up truck sped into the parking lot and skid to a halt. Several men jumped from the vehicle and walked towards Hunter with their chests puffed, ready for a fight.

 

“You look lost, mister,” said one of the men, Pike. “Figure maybe you took a wrong turn. I’d be happy to show you the way outta town.”

 

“I’m not looking for trouble,” Hunter said calmly.

 

“Funny how it has a way of finding you anyway, though,” the man said. “You got no business talking to that boy, ya’ hear? And you got no business in this town. So start walking.”

 

“I don’t intimidate very easy,” Hunter said. “So if you’re going to start something…start it.”

 

The man swung a punch Hunter dodged. The other men lunged at him at once. Hunter dodged and parried their punches, maneuvering around them with ease.

 

Then he stopped. He stopped dodging. He stopped moving. And he let them pommel him.

 

Suddenly, a siren blared as a sheriff’s vehicle pulled into the parking lot.

 

Sheriff Cole stepped out with his hand on his holster. “All right, break it up.”

 

The men stopped their pointless attack.

 

“Just a misunderstanding,” one of them said.

 

“Uh-huh,” the sheriff said. “I Imagine you boys have work to do. Best be on your way.”

 

The men started walking off, but not before one of them glared at Hunter. “Better pray I don’t see you around again, city boy.”

 

Hunter lifted his bag. He nodded an awkward greeting at the officer. “Sheriff.”

 

“Yeah, let’s see some ID,” the sheriff said.

 

“I’m not carrying any,” Hunter said.

 

“No driver’s license?”

 

“I don’t drive,” Hunter said.

 

The sheriff sighed. “Reckon I can help you with that,” he said as he pointed to his car. “Get in.”

 

***

 

The sheriff dropped Hunter off at an abandoned gas station. “Sleep here. First bus leaves town seven in the a.m. I expect you on it.”

 

The sheriff sped away, kicking up dust.

 

Hunter narrowed his eyes. The town seemed odd, even to someone who grew up in Angel Grove.

 

The teen started walking, anxious to leave the town behind and continue his aimless trek. He knew the town had its problems. Its secrets. But he couldn’t help them. He couldn’t help anyone. Not anymore.

 

Still, a strange feeling nagged at his mind. He sensed something off. Not just strange or secretive. He felt…death.

 

***

 

Sheriff Cole went back to the station. He walked to one of his deputies, who sat hunched over a computer.

 

“Parrish, pull up that story we were talking about the other day,” the sheriff said.

 

Parrish arced an eyebrow. “Sheriff?”

 

“You know, the one with the INET and Angel Grove business,” the sheriff said.

 

The deputy opened a web browser and pulled up a story dated a few days back. The story detailed the names of the Hurricane Power Rangers, Samurai Rangers and their mentors, each wanted for arrest.

 

He scrolled past their names and pictures. Mentors Tommy Oliver and Ashley Hammond. The Hurricane Rangers: Simon, Lauren, Justin, Rachel, Kou, Blake…and Hunter.

 

“Stop right there,” the sheriff said as he recognized the picture. “Son of a bitch…”

 

“What is it?” the deputy asked.

 

“That one,” the sheriff said as he pointed to Hunter’s picture. “That son of a bitch came to our town.”

 

The deputy’s face paled. “Do you think he knows?”

 

The sheriff narrowed his eyes.

 

***

 

Hunter moved off the road and walked until sunset. He stopped near the edge of the town near a quarry. And when he looked down, he saw dozens of skeletal bodies — wearing police uniforms.  

 

Sirens blared from behind. A sheriff’s car swerved to the scene and nearly plowed into Hunter.

 

But the ranger shot into the air and flipped over the vehicle. Hunter landed behind the car and crouched in the shadows.

 

The car skid to a halt, and two deputies stepped out. They pulled out their guns and searched for their target.

 

“Shit, he was right here,” one of them said.

 

“Can’t have gone far,” said the other. “Keep-”

 

Hunter dropped on them in an instant. He knocked their guns away and bashed them to the ground hard and fast.

 

***

 

Sheriff Cole paced back and forth in his office. “Anything?”

 

Deputy Parrish shook his head. “No word from Peabody or Drake…They should have reported back by now.”

 

“Dammit…” the sheriff whispered.

 

The phone rang, and he answered. “This is Cole.”

 

“I have your men,” Hunter said from the other line.

 

“What do you want?”

 

“To be left alone. This isn’t my problem.”

 

***

 

Sheriff Cole brought two deputies to an abandoned shack near the quarry. They found Peabody and Drake bound and gagged and quickly untied them.

 

“What did he want?” Sheriff Cole asked.

 

Peabody shook his head. “Nothing. He didn’t ask anything or do anything, he just…he just wanted left alone.”

 

“And you believe that?” Cole asked.

 

Drake nodded. “He didn’t ask nothing or say nothing about those guns. He just tied us up and left.”

 

Sheriff Cole sighed. “Fine. Good riddance. Let’s go…The shipment’s passing through this afternoon.”

 

Peabody shook his head. “I don’t know, sheriff…”

 

“What?” Sheriff Cole asked. “You getting cold feet? Look into that pit outside…That’s what Calavera does to people who get cold feet.”

 

None of them noticed Hunter listening from the rooftop.

 

***

 

Hunter followed Sheriff Cole and his men to an abandoned construction yard. He watched on a rooftop and waited.

 

Below, a truckload of guns arrived on the scene.

 

A black limousine pulled into the other side of the construction area. A man stepped out; he wore a white suit with a skull pin at the collar, and black shades. His long gray hair flowed freely down his back.

 

The man walked to Sheriff Cole. “You have my weapons?”

 

Sheriff Cole shook his head. “No, sir. I’m afraid these weapons were melted down. At least…that’s what the report will say.”

 

“Do I look like I am in a clever mood?”

 

Sheriff Cole scowled. “We have your weapons. You have the heroine?”

 

“Of course…” the man said.

 

Hunter narrowed his eyes. So the cops exchanged weapons for heroine as part of a duel trafficking deal. And the bodies of the dead cops? Cole and the others likely killed the officers who refused to cooperate in the scheme.

 

The ranger leapt into action. He snapped a volley of throwing stars that disarmed the cops, landed in the yard, and pounced towards the truck.

 

He smashed through the windshield, grabbed the wheel, and sped off.

 

***

 

Hunter drove to the other edge of the quarry and used a crane to dump the truck into the lake. Not long after, Sheriff Cole and the black limo drove to the scene.

 

The limo doors opened, and the man in the white suit stepped out.

 

“Hunter of the Ikkazuchi Way, I presume?” he said. His men and the sheriff’s deputies filed out of their vehicles. “They call me Calavera.”

 

The crime lord stepped closer to the ranger. “I will ask you this only once. Where are my weapons?”

 

“In the lake,” Hunter said.

 

“I see. This is unfortunate. I had an arrangement with Sheriff Cole here. He provided me with American guns. I provided him with Mexican heroine. Now, thanks to you, he cannot uphold his side of the bargain.”

 

The sheriff scowled. “I got your damned guns! This son of a bitch stole ‘em right out from under us!”

 

Menito, if the sheriff speaks again, shoot him in the head.”

 

“Yes sir.”

 

Calavera looked to Hunter. “You must have known that we would come after you. That you could not possibly escape. So why would you do this thing?”

 

“I didn’t have much choice,” Hunter said. “Those guns would have been used to kill innocent people. I couldn’t walk away from that. I thought I could turn my back …but I guess I was wrong. That’s not who I am.”

 

“Such vanity,” Calavera said. “The nobility of heroic self-sacrifice appeals to your ego…but I think you are lying to yourself. Answering a deeper need. Tell me…what is it you are so afraid of?”

 

“I’m not afraid.”

 

“You are a poor liar, Hunter,” Calavera said as he took off his shades. “But no matter. I have a gift to share with you. Let me show you.”

 

Calavera’s eyes shifted to solid black, demon possessed.

 

The demon narrowed his eyes and fired a psionic wave powerful enough to drive Hunter to his knees. The teen collapsed to his knees and nearly screamed.

 

Images flashed through his mind’s eyes. He saw himself lead the Ikkazuchi to wipe out the Hand. He watched himself join with the remnants of the Hand, lead them, to unleash the Phantom Demons onto the city. The Sabbath. The Second Sabbath. His teammates, nearly killed by his own hands.

 

He nearly killed his brother.

 

Calavera smiled. “I can split open your soul, Hunter. And show you what I find there. You wear your guilt like a mask to hide you from the world. But you cannot escape the judgment of your own conscious. After what you have done…what you have caused…you want to die.”

 

“No…” Hunter whispered through strain breaths. “No…”

 

“You have walked the path of self-righteousness, and where has it led you? Only to pain, and suffering, and death. It has led you to me. The path to Hell is paved with good intentions. And this is where it ends.”

 

Calavera pulled out a gun and shot Hunter, and the impact whipped him into the quarry, where he splashed into the water below.

 

***

 

Hours passed. Hunter climbed from the lake, his body broken and battered. The Power allowed for a heightened healing factor. But he suffered from serious injuries.

 

Hunter crawled to his feet and walked towards the town.

 

***

 

Young Wyatt listened to music while he washed his hands in the bathroom that night. Suddenly, he heard a thump come from the upstairs bathroom.

 

The boy rushed upstairs and opened the door. He saw Hunter slumped in the tub, bleeding and bruised below the open window.

 

“Help me…” he whispered with a hoarse voice.

 

***

 

Washed up and in fresh clothes, Hunter sat on the couch along with Wyatt.

 

“Thanks,” Hunter said. “You’re a good kid.”

 

“It’s Wyatt,” he said.

 

Hunter nodded. “Wyatt. Do your parents leave you alone at night often?”

 

The boy looked aside. “Ma’s out screwin’ around with Pike an’ his boys. So is it true? Are you a Ranger?”

 

“I…was,” Hunter said. “But I did some things I’m not proud of.”

 

That mean you’re gonna to run away again?”

 

“I didn’t run away,” Hunter said.

 

“I was there, remember?” the boy said. “You let them beat you up. Didn’t even try to fight back.”

 

“Maybe I had it coming.”

 

“Not as much as they did,” Wyatt said. “Pike and the rest of them…I’m pretty sure they…They killed my Pa. He was the sheriff. Found out his deputy, Cole, was runnin’ guns over the border with Pike’s gang. When he stood up to ‘em, they…Well, Pa never came home, is all. Neither did the men who stood with him.

 

“Cole took over the sheriff’s department and Pike’s gang both,” Wyatt continued. “Took over the whole town. Everyone knows what goes on here, though you won’t hear ‘em say it. Anyone who don’t like it’s either dead or run out of town.”

 

“I’m…sorry.”

 

“Quit saying you’re sorry!” Wyatt said. “Jeez, sorry don’t make it better. Sorry ain’t worth crap!”

 

The boy sighed and lowered his head. “This isn’t Angel Grove or Crossworld…I guess the Rangers don’t bother with small-town stuff.”

 

“Listen…”

 

“You’re no hero. I get it,” Wyatt said. “You’re scared. We’re all scared here. My Pa always said you should be strong an’ face your fear. But he was wrong, wasn’t he? Being a hero just gets you killed.”

 

Wyatt curled up with his knees against his chest and lowered his head. “One day I’ll be big enough to join Pike an’ Cole an’ all the rest. Maybe then I won’t be scared all the time.”

 

Hunter lowered his gaze. The ranger rolled his hands into fists. “Your father…Do you still have his police gear?”

 

“I guess so…Why?” Wyatt asked. “What do you need?”

 

“Every weapon he had.”

 

The boy’s face lit up. “You mean you’re gonna…”

 

“I did run away,” Hunter said. “All the way from Angel Grove. But the thing I was running from. Turns out it was inside me the whole time. You’re father wasn’t wrong, Wyatt. And I’m going to prove it.”

 

***

 

Calavera and his men joined Sheriff Cole in an abandoned warehouse near the quarry. Calavera’s men carried heavy machine guns and forced Cole, his officers, and Pike’s thugs to their knees.

 

“You owe me, Cole,” Calavera said. “I went to a great deal of trouble to bring this product in under the border. Now I want what’s due to me. I want my guns.”

 

“That Ranger dumped them in the lake!” Cole shouted. “You know that!”

 

“Then you will just have to find more. The ATF has a facility in Sante Fe filled with federally impounded weapons. Hit them hard. Take everything.”

 

“C’mon, Calavera!” Cole shouted. “You…You want us to rip off the damn ATF?!”

 

“Simple enough with the right distraction,” Calavera said. “Blow up a shopping mall. A few dead civilians will scatter the authorities like cockroaches.”

 

“You’re out of your mind if-”

 

“Careful, Cole,” Calavera said as he leaned towards the sheriff. “I may be out of my mind…but remember, I can see into yours!”

 

Calavera’s eyes shifted to solid black. He fired an invisible psionic pulse that drove into the sheriff’s mind. Visions flashed through his consciousness. He saw the bodies of his dead officers rise like zombies and attack. They screamed at him, asking why he killed them.

 

“Get ‘em away!” Cole shouted. “Don’t let ‘em get me! Get ‘em-”

 

Suddenly, a canister dropped onto the floor from the rafters above. The canister burst open with smoke — tear gas.

 

“What the-”

 

“The rafters!”

 

“That Ranger!”

 

“It’s him!”

 

The thugs aimed upward and opened fire. The smoke clouded their vision as they coughed, but they blazed their weapons.

 

Hunter dropped to the floor and used the smoke for cover. A police baton in both hands, he dashed past the thugs, knocked their guns from their hands, and bashed them to the ground.

 

“You!” Cole shouted. He pushed himself to his feet and started to charge, as did Pike and the other crooked cops.

 

Hunter threw the batons. They smacked Cole and his men to the floor.

 

The ranger turned his attention to Calavera, who stood unfazed in the center of the tear gas cloud.

 

“Enjoying yourself, Ranger?” the demon asked. “Of course you are. And that’s the problem, isn’t it? That’s what you fear. It’s not that you became a monster. It’s that you enjoyed it!”

 

Hunter shook his head. “No…”

 

“Admit it!” Calavera shouted. “That burst of feral joy as you rose to power and cut down your enemies, as you built your base of power! You can lie to me, Ranger. But you can’t lie to yourself.”

 

Hunter narrowed his eyes. “You think you can turn me into a mess by preying on my fears? I’ve already faced them. And came out the other side.”

 

The ranger pounced to attack.

 

Calavera fired a psionic pulse that burst through Hunter’s mind. But the ranger ignored the pain.

 

Hunter kicked the demon in the chest, hurling him across the warehouse. Calavera crashed and skid across the floor.

 

The villain laughed and climbed to his feet. “You have no idea what you’ve become involved with, Ranger.”

 

“A demon who has nothing better to do than petty crime,” Hunter said.

 

“Is that what you think this is? Crime?” Calavera asked. “This is corruption. The Agents of Lilith have spread across your country and struck. Lilith is…like a child. She likes to play, and you humans make for perfect playthings. We’ll bring this world to its knees just for the fun of it.”

 

“I’d like to see you try,” Hunter said.

 

“Try? We’ve succeeded. We’re everywhere. And you Rangers never even noticed.”

 

Calavera’s black eyes brightened with power. The demon burst from his host with a pulse of black energy and assumed physical form. Its hunched body looked covered in black webbing, with small bat-like wings. Its white skin looked pealed back across its skeletal face, with large yellow eyes and slits for irises. Calavera opened his jaws, filled with fangs.

 

“Towns like these are just the appetizers!” Calavera hissed.

 

Hunter armed his morpher. “Ninjetti change.”

 

Energy thundered around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

Crimson Thunder unsheathed his staff.

 

Calavera laughed. “Even if you stop me. You cannot stop Lilith. She is a force of nature. She is evil incarnate, the Mother of Demons. She will rip apart your families. Destroy your communities. By turning the worst of mankind against each other. She-”

 

Crimson Thunder lunged and plunged his staff through the demon’s chest with a burst of spark. The Crimson Thunder Ranger twisted the weapon, which ignited with crimson energy that incinerated the demon.  

 

Crimson Thunder lowered his weapon and looked to the demon’s smoking remains. “Lilith…”

 

He thought of Wyatt, and what a single demon managed to do to an entire town, without a single grunt or monster attack.

 

The Ranger knew what he needed to do.

 

And he needed his teammates to do it.

 

***

 

PART TWO: Blake and Rachel

 

Blake and Rachel stayed in a run-down hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their room stank of stale cigarette smoke, and the lights flickered every time they moved.

 

Blake leaned back in his hard-as-rock bed. 

 

“What do you think?” he asked as he looked at the flickering lights. “Spirit, or poor workmanship?”

 

Rachel sighed and cuddled next to him. “Both?”

 

Blake nodded. “Sounds perfectly logical.”

 

“You could always turn the lights off.”

 

Blake nodded. “I could, I could. Or I could just blow up the whole building. Then we could sneak into one of those nice Five-Star Hotels with the little mints on the pillows.”

 

“Do you even like mints?” Rachel asked.

 

“No, but I like them better than used condoms and rat excrement,” Blake said.

 

“Sounds perfectly logical,” Rachel said. “We talked about this…We only stay where we can afford. No breaking the law.”

 

“Technically, we’re on the run from the law,” Blake said. “We might as well make the best out of it. Come up with some cool aliases. Start hustling pool for cash. Maybe a credit card scheme or two.”

 

“You’re terrible,” Rachel said.

 

The wall creaked yet again, and this time, they heard sobbing from the vent.

 

Blake sighed. “At least it’s not a prostitute this time.”

 

“You don’t know that was a prostitute.”

 

“We distinctly heard her say ‘I gave you my service, now give me my money,’” Blake said.

 

A gun shot blasted in the neighboring room. Blake and Rachel shot to their feet. Without a word, they ran outside, turned to the neighboring room, and kicked down the door.

 

They saw nothing. No one.

 

Sheets covered the walls and floor, cluttered with paint cans and ladders.

 

“I’m not going crazy, right?” Blake asked. “You heard that too?”

 

Rachel nodded. “I did.” Chills crept down her spine, and she shivered. “Something happened in here.”

 

“Are you rethinking my Five-Star Hotel idea?” Blake asked.

 

“Blake, be serious,” Rachel said.

 

“Completely serious,” Blake said. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

 

“We need to find out what’s going on,” Rachel said.

 

Blake followed Rachel to the motel lobby, where an old woman sat behind the counter. She drank cold coffee and read a crinkled newspaper.

 

“Excuse me…” Rachel said to the woman. “We were wondering…Room 13? We heard some noises there. It looks like there’s some painting going on?”

 

The woman smiled, revealing a mouth of crooked teeth. “That’s right, dear, that’s right. Bit of a mess from a week ago.”

 

“What happened then?” she asked.

 

“A girl. A poor girl, just about your age. Blew her poor brains out all over the wall. Poor thing,” she said with a slight chuckle.

 

Blake narrowed his eyes. “Yeah, you seem broken up about it.”

 

“It happens here,” she said. “Best to accept it. Accept what you can’t change. The world spins round and round, out of control. Grasp what you can, and let go of the rest.”

 

“OK, you’re bat-shit crazy,” Blake said.

 

“Blake,” Rachel chided.

 

The woman giggled. “We’re all a little crazy, dear. You have to be, in this world we live in.”

 

She pointed to a number etched on a chalkboard: 42.

 

“See that number there?” she asked. “My husband, he likes to keep track.”

 

“Keep track of what?” Rachel asked.

 

“The number of suicides,” the woman said. “Forty-two in the past year.”

 

“In the town, or…” Blake started to ask.

 

“No, no, dear,” she said. “Right here. Right here in our little motel.”

 

***

 

Blake and Rachel returned to their room.

 

“OK, we’re out,” Blake said.

 

“Blake, you heard what she said.”

 

“Which is why we’re out,” Blake said. “We have enough to deal with, with INET on our tail, and Azmodai…and I can’t even remember who else.”

 

“We have to stop whatever’s happening here.”

 

“Rachel, we’re Rangers,” he said. “We fight big scary monsters that look like they’re dressed in rubber suits. We don’t do spirits.”

 

“There are different kinds of evil,” Rachel said. “What’s happening here…it sounds just as bad as any monster attack.”

 

“No, what’s happening here can’t level a city,” Blake said.

 

“Forty-two people, Blake,” Rachel said. “In a year. 42.”

 

Blake sighed. “OK…Even if we wanted to do something, how? We’re not demon hunters, and the ones we know are completely insane.”

 

“We’ll think of something,” Rachel said. “We always do.”

 

***

 

The two teens entered the neighboring room. Rachel sat on the floor, and Blake joined her.

 

Rachel reached for the paint can and dipped in a brush. She drew a red circle on the floor around her.

 

Blake shook his head. “You know what you’re doing?”

 

“Not really, no,” Rachel said. “I only dabbled with this stuff when I was a kid…You know how well that turned out.”

 

Blake nodded. Rachel triggered a burst of Kiryoku when she experimented with witchcraft as a child, killing her friends in the process. Her family fled to Angel Grove and changed their names to protect Rachel, and Rachel enrolled in the Hayate Way to learn how to control her Ki.

 

Rachel closed her eyes and breathed deep. She reached out with her Kiryoku but felt nothing.

 

She sighed. “Simon would…” she shook her head. “He’d be able to do this.”

 

“Simon went crazy,” Blake said. “Let’s not do the same, OK? Let’s just-”

 

The door burst open as the motel keeper stepped inside. Her eyes turned solid black, demon possessed.

 

She snarled at the teens. “You couldn’t leave it alone, could you?!”

 

She thrust her hand and fired a TK burst that blasted Blake and Rachel through the wall and into the next room.

 

The teens rolled into crouched fighting stances.

 

“Seriously?” Blake said.

 

The demon woman stalked towards them. “My work here is in the name of Lilith, the Mother of Demons, the-”

 

“Ki!” Rachel fired a Ki blast that hurled the motel keeper backward. She smashed through the hotel and landed in the courtyard outside.

 

Blake and Rachel leapt after her and landed in the courtyard.

 

The haggard woman climbed to her feet, and her bones snapped and twisted with each move. She snarled, and her mouth dripped with black saliva.

 

“You couldn’t! Leave it! ALONE!”

 

The demon burst into black flames, incinerating its host and assuming its physical form. The creature sprouted black, skeletal wings from a black slimy body. It hovered in midair; six arms extended from its chest, and a massive tail extended from its back. Its elongated head looked solid black, with glossy eyes and a fang filled jaw.

 

Blake pointed to the west. “Angel Grove’s that way. You’ll fit right in. Now why don’t you-”

 

The creature snapped its tail at Blake, and the teen leapt upward to avoid the blow. He thrust his hand and hurled a lightning bolt that blasted the demon with a burst of spark, knocking it backward.

 

The creature snapped its wings and spun in midair. It faced Blake, extended its hands, and fired a psionic burst of power that smashed against his body. The blast hurled him backward; he smashed against the side of the motel and crashed to the ground.

 

Pain thundered through his head. The ranger climbed to his feet and staggered. He looked up, and saw dozens of reflections of himself.

 

The images flashed with action: He saw himself make his first kill, attack the Hurricane Power Rangers, and he saw visions that never happened. He watched himself murder Rachel. He saw himself join his father in a crusade to cull Japan.

 

He saw the worst in himself.

 

The demon forced the images into the teen’s mind.

 

Blake rolled his hands into fists. “Yeah…I already dealt with this crap. I’m pretty much over it…”

 

He armed his morpher. “Ninjetti change!”

 

He morphed into his armor, pounced, and swung his staff through a streak of navy-tinted power. The slash tore through the demon with massive bursts of spark that hurled her backward.

 

 Rachel armed her morpher. “Ninjetti change! Ha!”

 

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

 

The Blue Ranger slapped her right fist against her left palm. “Water style! Water pillar thrust!”

 

She thrust her hand and fired a rushing pillar of hydro energy that thrashed the demon and hurled her across the plaza. The creature crashed through a nearby wall.

 

Hurricane Blue ran to Navy Thunder’s side. “You OK?”

 

Navy Thunder nodded. “She tried to get into my head.”

 

“I bet that’s what she did to the people here,” Hurricane Blue said. “The ones who killed themselves.”

 

The demon cackled with insanity and climbed from the wall. Its wings extended and sharpened.

 

“I watched them all!” she shrieked. “I watched them all die! This place was my playground! My-”

 

A burst of shadow energy tore through her body, and she exploded into pieces.

 

Crimson Thunder streaked through the air and landed in the plaza.

 

Navy Thunder took a step back with disbelief. “Well…that was abrupt.”

 

Hunter powered down his armor. “Blake…”

 

“‘Blake’?” Navy Thunder said. “Is that all you have to say? You take off for weeks, after we bust our asses trying to save you? And all you can say is ‘Blake’?”

 

“I was in a bad place.”

 

“Called Crazy Town,” Navy Thunder said.

 

Hurricane Blue placed a hand on the Navy Thunder Ranger’s shoulder. “Blake, calm down.”

 

She powered down her armor. “Hunter…it’s good to see you.”

 

“Thank you,” Hunter said. He glanced towards the demon’s smoking remains. “What was that thing?”

 

Rachel looked towards the creature. “A demon,” she said. “She said she worked for someone named Lilith.

 

“Lilith…” Hunter said thoughtfully. “That’s a name I’ve heard too much of recently.”

 

“Who is she?” Rachel asked.

 

“Another player,” Hunter said. “One we need to wipe off the board.”

 

***

 

PART THREE: Justin and Kou

 

“Steer, Kou, steer!” Byakko shouted.

 

Kou swerved and nearly plowed into another vehicle on the interstate.

 

Justin shouted from the passenger seat. “Oh my god, pull over! Pull over now! Jesus, this isn’t bumper cars!”

 

“Sorry I didn’t have time for driving lessons growing up in Hell!” Kou shouted as he swerved to bring the car back under control.

 

“Then don’t drive!” Justin shouted. “Ever again!”

 

Kou swerved to the right and pulled over to the side of the road. He stepped out of the car and slammed the door shut.

 

“OK…OK, no,” Justin said as he stepped out of the vehicle. “We can’t just stop on the side of the interstate.”

 

“What are we even doing here?” Kou said.

 

“Trying to stay low,” Justin said. “Which is hard to do when you’re trying to play Mario Kart.

 

“You said you wanted me to drive so you could nap!” Kou shouted.

 

“You neglected to mention you couldn’t drive!” Justin shouted. “Like, at all! Argh, I hate this stupid state. Does Pennsylvania ever end? No one should have to drive through this place.”

 

“Kou! Justin!” Byakko shouted from Kou’s jacket. “We can’t stay in the middle of the open!”

 

Justin rubbed his brow and leaned against the jeep.

 

“We can’t keep doing this. We’ve been on the run for…it seems like forever,” he said.

 

“Tommy wanted us to stay low,” Kou said.

 

Justin shook his head. “I hope he knows what he’s doing. Nothing makes sense anymore.”

 

“Kou,” Byakko said. “I’m glad you have finally calmed down, but we MUST be going.”

 

Sirens sounded from behind. The teens looked to see a state trooper pull up behind them.

 

Justin grumbled beneath his breath. “Great…”

 

Kou rolled his hands into fists, but Justin took his arm.

 

“Don’t,” Justin said. “We just have to…play it cool.”

 

Kou arced an eyebrow. “‘Play it cool?’ Really?”

 

An officer stepped out of the car and walked towards the teens. “You boys need some help?”

 

“Uh, no officer,” Justin said. “Everything’s fine. It’s just been…a long drive.”

 

The cop shook his head. “This isn’t exactly the place to get out and stretch your legs.”

 

“Right, right,” Justin said. “That’s what I told my friend here, but he’s a little slow.”

 

Kou arced an eyebrow, but Justin nudged him before he could say anything.

 

The officer narrowed his eyes, as if he suddenly recognized the teens.

 

“Long drive, huh? Where you coming from? And where you headed?”

 

“From, uh, Springfield,” Justin said. “We’re headed to New York. Ya know, Big Apple and all that.”

 

The cop nodded skeptically. “I’m going to need to see some ID.”

 

Justin nearly panicked. INET made the Hurricane and Samurai Rangers’ identifies known, but the teens didn’t have aliases yet.

 

“Um,” Justin said. “I don’t suppose saying ‘you don’t need to see his identification’ would do any good, huh?”

 

Kou sighed and slapped his own forehead.

 

“Son, it’s best you cooperate,” the cop said.

 

“Right, right,” Justin said. “I just-”

 

The cop shuddered. His eyes shifted to solid black, and he snarled. “RANGERS!”

 

The demon tore through the man’s flesh and pounced. His white, lupine body hunched like a beast, and he slashed with massive claws. His elongated jaw snapped with jagged teeth, above a trio of eyes on its forehead. Spikey black hair grew along its back.

 

Justin and Kou dove aside. Nearby cars sped aside to avoid crashing into the teens. The cars smashed against each other and flipped over, skidding across the pavement.

 

Justin and Kou armed their morphers. “Ninjetti change! Ha!”

 

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

 

A speeding car skid to a stop nearby. The demon grabbed the car and hurled it at the Rangers.

 

The Rangers leapt aside, and the car smashed against the pavement.

 

The demon grew a tail and snapped it at the Rangers; it slashed their armor with bursts of spark and hurled them backward.

 

The Yellow Ranger crashed into the windshield of an approaching semi, which jackknifed and spun out of control.

 

The Green Ranger crashed onto the hood of a car, which swerved aside and toppled.

 

The demon leapt onto the fallen vehicle and lifted the Green Ranger by the neck.

 

“Rangers!” the demon shouted with a rasp, hissing voice. “Lilith wants to play! Play with my Lilith!”

 

Hurricane Green flipped backward while kicking the demon upside the head, knocking himself free. The Green Ranger landed, unsheathed his sword, and slashed wide; the blade cut the monster with a massive burst of spark that knocked him several steps backward.

 

“What the hell is that thing?” Hurricane Green shouted.

 

“Big scary demon?” the Yellow Ranger said.

 

“Yeah, that’s not very helpful.”

 

Hurricane Green leapt aside and thrust his hands at the monster. “Slicing sound wave!”

 

He fired a rippling wave of sonic power. The wave snapped with curved energy blades that thrashed the monster with bursts of spark and hurled him backward.

 

The Yellow Ranger armed his Lion Hammer. “See, this is why no one trusts the police these days.”

 

He swung the hammer towards the ground. “Seismic Rock Crusher!”

 

The hammer smashed the ground with a shockwave that tore through the street and exploded beneath the monster with massive bursts of flame and debris. The explosion hurled the creature backward.

 

Hurricane Green and Hurricane Yellow hopped along toppled cars, leapt through the air, and angled their descent at the fallen monster.

 

The creature rolled onto its back and spat wads of flem at the Rangers. The flem splashed their faceplates and whipped them backward. They crashed against the street, unable to see past the mucus that coated their visors.

 

The demon twisted shape, its body contorting into various shapes and sizes, wolf-like one second, scorpion-like the next, and then bird-like. The creature settled into a bestial mix, with ape-like arms, pincers, feathers, tusks and horns, spikes across its body, and three pairs of wings. The demon’s eyes glowed with red fire, and when it opened its jaws to roar, its mouth glowed with blue heat.

 

“I'll say it again...” Hurricane Green said. “What. The hell. Is that thing.”

 

The creature grumbled with laughter. “I serve Lilith.”

 

“That chick from ‘True Blood’?” Hurricane Yellow said as he tried to pry the flem from his visor.

 

“Seriously?!” Hurricane Green said.

 

“Kou!” Byakko shouted. “Lift me towards your visor!”

 

The Green Ranger unsheathed his sword and lifted the pommel towards his faceplate. Byakko glowed with jade energy that burnt the mucus away. Hurricane Green extended the weapon towards Hurricane Yellow, and the pommel ignited with green power that incinerated the mucus.

 

“Thanks,” Hurricane Yellow said.

 

“Damn right, ‘thanks,’” Hurricane Green said.

 

They leapt aside just as the creature's tail smashed the street between them. 

 

While in midair, the Green Ranger energized his fists with jade energy.

 

“Sonic Boom!” He crossed his arms and fired a wave of sonic power.

 

The blast exploded against the monster with massive bursts of spark that tore open its side.

 

Hurricane Yellow slapped his right fist against his left palm. “Seismic Storm!”

 

He thrust his palms together and fired a jagged blast of seismic energy.

 

Hurricane Green thrust his fists towards the monster. “Slicing sound wave!”

 

He fired a rippling wave of sonic power. The energy combined with the seismic blast and formed a surging pulse of energy that tore across the street and blasted through the demon with a massive explosion. The shockwave tore apart the ground with a flash of light that shook the earth.

 

The attack incinerated the demon.

 

The Green Ranger and Yellow Ranger regrouped.

 

“That was abrupt, right?” Hurricane Yellow said. “Do you think he was tracking us?”

 

Hurricane Green shook his head. “I don’t know…”

 

Hurricane Yellow’s communicator toned, which startled him. The Rangers promised to maintain complete comm silence so INET couldn’t track them.

 

The Yellow Ranger lifted his communicator to his mouthpiece. “…This isn’t comm silence.”

 

“Justin,” Rachel said from the other end of the line. “There’s not much time. We need to regroup…”

 

“Regroup?” Hurricane Yellow said. “We’re almost to the other side of the country.”

 

“We’ll explain when you get here,” Rachel said.

 

“Where’s ‘here?’” Hurricane Green asked.  

 

“Angel Grove,” Rachel said. “We’re going home.”

 

***

 

PART FOUR: Lauren

 

The rest of the Hurricane team left Angel Grove to evade INET and its ISIS Initiatives. But Lauren stayed behind in the city.

 

At night, she stood outside the home of her old foster family. She never felt like she belonged there. Not really. She always felt out of place.

 

Yet she somehow felt drawn to the home.

 

The doors opened, and her old foster father stepped into the yard. He knitted his brow with confusion. “Lauren…?”

 

She shifted uncomfortably. “Hey.”

 

“How long have you been standing out here?”

 

“Not too long,” she said. “I just wanted to come…say goodbye, I think.”

 

The man, Mr. Forester, nodded. “I saw you on the news. You’re…a Power Ranger, huh?”

 

“I haven’t been for long,” Lauren said. “Just in time for our base to get blown up, and INET to drive us out of the city.”

 

“They’re looking for you,” Mr. Forester said. “A few Homeland Security and Initiative agents came by, right after it happened. I’m supposed to call them if I see you.”

 

“Are you going to?” Lauren asked.

 

“Call them? No,” Mr. Forester said. “I don’t care what they say…You’re not a terrorist.”

 

Lauren smirked. “Thanks.”

 

“Should you still be here? In the city, I mean,” he said.

 

“Anxious to get rid of me already?”

 

“You know that’s not what I mean,” he said. “We loved having you here. You never had to leave.”

 

Sirens suddenly blared down the street. Three Silver Guardian SUVs swerved into the driveway, and soldiers filed into the yard.

 

Lauren knitted her brow. “You didn’t-”

 

“I didn’t,” Mr. Forester said as he stood protectively in front of his former foster daughter. “They must have been watching the place.”

 

The man glared at the soldiers. “Get off my property.”

 

“Don’t,” Lauren said. “Stay back. Let me-”

 

“Drop to the ground!” a solider shouted. “Now!”

 

Mr. Forester didn’t move. “I said-”

 

A soldier fired a stun blast that knocked the man onto the ground.

 

“No!” Lauren shouted as she unsheathed her sword. “He had nothing to do with this! So don’t touch him!”

 

“Then put down the sword and come with us,” one of the soldiers said.

 

“Not going to happen,” Lauren said.

 

From behind the soldiers, two Riders stepped foot into the yard: Kamen Rider Kaixa and Kamen Rider Delta. INET used the two Riders to hunt Shaded, and when possible, Rangers.

 

Lauren cursed beneath her breath. She couldn’t risk a fight in front of her old foster home.

 

She leapt backward and angled towards the roof. But Kamen Rider Kaixa leapt through the air and kicked her to the ground.

 

The ranger rolled into a crouched stance and armed her morpher. “Ninjetti change! Ha!”

 

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

 

Kaixa armed his Blaygun in a reverse grip and charged. He clashed blades with the Red Ranger, swords sparking on impact.

 

The Rider sidestepped, allowing Delta to open fire with his Delta Blaster.

 

The Red Ranger slashed the blasts from the air with bursts of spark, leapt backward, and thrust her palm towards her opponent.

 

“Kiryoku!” She fired a Ki blast that smashed Delta with a burst of spark, whipping him backward.

 

The Silver Guardians opened fire. The Red Ranger tried to dodge. But bullets blasted her armor with bursts of spark.

 

Kaixa dashed past her while slashing her chest with a burst of spark, and Delta shot her helmet, whipping her off her feet.

 

Hurricane Red tumbled across the yard. She rolled into a crouched stance and looked up to see the Riders charge towards her.

 

Suddenly, a lightning burst blasted Kaixa off his feet. And a shadow bolt sparked against Delta’s chest and knocked him to the ground.

 

Navy Thunder and Crimson Thunder landed in the yard, followed by Hurricane Yellow, Hurricane Green, and Hurricane Blue.

 

“Lauren…” Hurricane Blue said as she helped the Red Ranger to her feet. “You OK?”

 

“I’ve been better,” she said.

 

“Let’s get out of here,” Hurricane Yellow said.

 

Hurricane Green placed his hand against his sword’s pommel. “Howling Wave!”

 

Byakko roared, a noise that split through the soldiers’ ears and forced them to the ground.

 

When they looked up, the Rangers were gone.

 

***

 

PART FIVE: Lilith

 

Lilith sat on the floor of her living room and braided her doll’s hair. The demon possessed the body of a 10-year-old girl with long dark hair and brown eyes.

 

Her home looked deserted, with boarded windows and cracked walls. Light barely penetrated the dark place.

 

“Mommy…” she called. But no one answered. “Mommy!”

 

The girl’s mother walked into the room. She looked frail, exhausted and terrified. “Ye- Yes, sweet- sweetheart.”

 

“Mommy, we’re getting bored,” she said as she looked to her doll. “Aren’t we, Suzie Sunshine.”

 

“Well…” her mother said. “Well…”

 

The girl looked to the darkened corners of the room. Shadows ebbed across the floor and formed pools, which rose to take shape: Figures dressed in black robes and bone masks, the Demunio.

 

“They’re coming here,” she said to the soldiers. “Aren’t they?”

 

The lead demon nodded.

 

The girl’s face lit up.

 

“Oh goodie. I love guests.” She lifted her doll. “Suzie Sunshine, we’re going to throw a big party for them.”

 

The demon looked to her host’s mother. “Aren’t we mommy?”

 

“Ye-” The mother crossed her arms over her chest and shivered. “Yes, sweetheart.”

 

***

 

The Hurricane team walked through the partially deserted subdivision. Most homes looked vacant with unkempt lawns and clutter. Some looked occupied. Others hosted squatters.

 

“This Lilith must have a really bad real estate agent,” Blake said. “How do we know she’s even here again?”

 

“I can sense her,” Hunter said.

 

“What, you have a demon radar now?” Blake asked.

 

Hunter nodded. “Something like that. Ever since the Phantom.”

 

Hunter didn’t explain further, and his teammates didn’t ask. They didn’t want to drag up old memories.

 

They stopped a few houses down from Lilith’s home.

 

“So what’s the plan?” Justin asked. “We can’t just barge in. That never works well for us…and yet we keep doing it.”

 

“She might have people inside with her,” Rachel said.

 

The rangers saw a few workers mull about the property, as well as neighboring homes. A mailman delivered the mail. A landscaper cut the grass, and a gardener trimmed hedges.

 

It looked weird.

 

“You see that too, right?” Blake asked. “What are they doing?”

 

“They’re possessed,” Kou said.

 

Hunter nodded in agreement. “Lilith’s men. Her guard.”

 

“We should take them out quietly,” Lauren said. “One by one.”

 

“First of all, I don’t think we’ve ever done anything quietly, which is surprising, since we’re ninjas,” Blake said. “Second, I’ll go ahead and say it again:  We’re not exactly demon hunters. We don’t know how to exorcise people.”

 

He looked to his brother. “Unless you’ve picked up that trick too? Please don’t say ‘something like that.’”

 

Hunter shook his head. “I haven’t.”

 

“I can do it,” Lauren said.

 

Justin arced an eyebrow. “Seriously?”

 

Lauren nodded. Tommy had explained her birth father descended from angels who walked among humans. This gave her the power to exorcise demons.

 

“It’s not something I’ve known about for long,” she said. “Or tried…”

 

“How would you even know what to do?” Kou asked.

 

She shrugged. “I figure I’ll wing it.”

 

Justin sighed. “You really are Simon’s sister.”

 

***

 

The gardener dug the weeds out from around the home. But the weeds grew back with supernatural speed. So he went round and round, non-stop.

 

Rachel walked up to him. “Um, excuse me?”

 

The gardener looked to her and narrowed his eyes. “Yes?”

 

“Could you help me out?” Rachel asked. “I’m a little lost. I could have sworn this was the right subdivision, but most of these places are empty.”

 

The gardener stood and tightened his grip on his small shovel.

 

Lauren dropped on the demon from behind and grabbed him in a chokehold. She placed her hand on his forehead and summoned her Kiryoku.

 

Her Ki forced its way through the man like an invisible gust of wind, which blew the demon from his soul with a flash of light in his eyes. The man lost consciousness, and Lauren dropped him to the ground.

 

“There,” Lauren said. “That wasn’t too hard.”

 

***

 

They took out the mailman next. Then the random couple that kept walking up and down the street.

 

After taking out the henchmen, the rangers turned their attention to the house.

 

They split up and snuck through separate windows.

 

Hunter moved through a dark hallway with cobwebs in the corners. He stayed in the shadows and entered the kitchen, where the mother sat behind the table. She sat with her arms across her chest and kept her gaze low. She looked frail and terrified.

 

Hunter stepped into the light, just barely, enough for her to see.

 

The woman lifted her gaze and opened her eyes wide with shock. Hunter motioned her to stay silent.

 

She nodded, and pointed upward. “She’s a monster…” she whispered. “She’s not our little girl. Not anymore. She killed…she killed…”

 

The woman covered her face and broke into a sob.

 

Hunter knitted his brow. Little girl? Had Lilith possessed a child?

 

***

 

Lauren figured it out for herself. She knitted her brow with concern as she stood over the girl while she slept in bed. She felt the taint of evil within the child.

 

The ranger reached out and grabbed the girl by the head.

 

The girl awoke and screamed. “Mommy, mommy, mommy!”

 

Lauren took her hand away and stepped back.

 

“She’s not here anymore…” Lauren said of Lilith. The demon had left the girl. “Then where…?”

 

***

 

The mother sobbed into her hands. “My girl, my poor baby girl.”

 

Hunter placed a hand on her shoulder, more to quiet her than to provide comfort. “It’s OK,” he said. “We need you to be.”

 

She grabbed his hand and hurled him across the room. He smashed against the wall and crashed to the floor.

 

“Play nice, Ranger,” Lilith said. “You tried to sneak up on me while sleeping! That’s not fair!”

 

Justin, Blake and Kou barged into the room.

 

Without a move, Lilith hurled TK bolts that smashed the three rangers through the walls.

 

Rachel dashed into the room, and Lauren followed. They dove aside just as Lilith hurled a TK bolt that pulverized the wall behind them.

 

The girls rolled into crouched stances and thrust their hands forward.

 

“Kiryoku!” they shouted.

 

They fired Ki bursts that blasted Lilith through the wall, and she crashed outside.

 

The rangers regrouped and dashed into the yard.

 

“We might as well have stormed in…” Justin muttered.

 

Lilith narrowed her eyes at the rangers. “You Rangers are no fun,” the demon pouted. “Trying to burn me out of my body. Suzie Sunshine wouldn’t like that at all. You’re going to make her mad!”

 

“That wasn’t your body,” Lauren said.

 

“You demented freak,” Blake added.

 

The house exploded behind them with a massive shockwave that hurled them off their feet. They crashed and skid several feet before tumbling to a stop.

 

The rangers stood and looked towards the wreckage, where a disfigured doll rose from the rubble and grew giant. The doll looked gray with patches of cloth, stringy black hair, and one black eye — the other sewn shut. The creature opened its mouth, partially stitched, and howled as it hunched over.

 

Lilith smirked at the rangers. “I told you you’d make Suzie Sunshine mad.”

 

The woman tilted her head back and screamed, and Lilith left the body through a stream of black smoke. The smoke twirled around the demon doll and entered its body.

 

The doll exploded into black flame as Lilith tore free in her physical form. She looked skinny and skeletal, with a black body and mangled black hair. Her hollow eyes glowed with fire, and bat-like wings extended from her back. Fire burned from patches of her missing skin. A boney tail grew from her back, and she carried a whip of fire and bone.

 

Justin took a step back. “Remind me why we came here again?”

 

Lilith smiled at the rangers through crooked teeth that contained flame. “Rangers,” she shrieked with a rumbling voice. “Play with Lilith. Play!”

 

Blake sighed. “The original Rangers get putty patrols and we get this.”

 

Rachel armed her bracer. “Come on….”

 

The others armed their morphers.  

 

“Ninjetti change! Ha!” Energy stormed around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

Hurricane Red raised her morpher to her faceplate. “Storm-zords, arise!”

 

Hurricane Hawk, Hurricane Lion, and Hurricane Dolphin swooped from the skies, and the Wind Power Rangers leapt into their cockpits.

 

Hurricane Red stood behind a pedestal that carried a glass control sphere. The sphere pulsed with strands of energy that traced along its inner surface.

 

She placed her hand over the sphere. “Storm-zords assemble! Whirlwind Fusion!”

 

Hurricane Hawk, Hurricane Lion, and Hurricane Dolphin radiated with energy and shot into the sky. Like comets, they twirled around each other and collided with a burst of light, which cleared as the zords merged.

 

The three zords formed a warrior similar to the shape of the original StormMegazord in Lightening mode. A pair of wings extended from the Megazord's back, and armor formed around the wings as they snapped into position. White armor with blue accents snapped into place around the Megazord’s arms, legs and body, and the red H-shaped symbol of the Hayate Way etched itself on the dome of the Megazord’s chest.

 

“StormMegazord!” the Rangers shouted from a central cockpit. “ChoiSenpuujin!”

 

Hurricane Green armed his morpher. “Hurricane Eagle, arise!”

 

The green-and-golden armored eagle swooped from the skies. Hurricane Green leapt into his cockpit.

 

“Hurricane Eagle!” he shouted. “Power up!”

 

Below, Crimson Thunder raised his morpher towards his faceplate. “Thunder-zords, arise!”

 

The Navy Beetlezord and Crimson Insectazord swooped from the skies, and the Thunder Rangers leapt into their cockpits, embedded within their zords’ armor.

 

Crimson Thunder placed a hand over his control sphere. “Thunder-zords assemble! Thunder Fusion!”

 

The two zords radiated with energy and shot into the sky like comets. The streaks of energy twirled around each other and collided with a flash of light that dissipated as the zords merged.

 

Their zords formed a warrior similar to the design of their first ThunderMegazord, only more slender. Two pieces of chest armor folded over the front of the Megazord to cover its body; then the plates of armor flipped back like a pair of wings as the Megazord snapped into a mid-air fighting stance.

 

“ThunderMegazord!” The Rangers shouted from a central cockpit. “ChoiGouraijin!”

 

“Thunder Scythe!” Crimson Thunder shouted.

 

The ThunderMegazord armed a scythe with an energy blade, leaned forward, and dove through the air towards the Lilith.

 

The Wind Power Rangers called for their Megazord’s weapon. “Storm Saber!”

 

The StormMegazord armed a slender blade, snapped its wings, and shot towards the demon.

 

Lilith snapped a whip of fire that thrashed the Megazords from the air. They crashed into the subdivision, plowed through homes, and skid to a halt.

 

The StormMegazord climbed back to its feet.

 

“Storm Saber!” the Wind Power Rangers shouted. “Blade Storm!”

 

StormMegazord swung its sword; the blade hurled a wave of yellow-tinted power that slashed through the air towards Lilith.

 

Lilith snapped her wings, which parried the blade.

 

ThunderMegazord moved in from the side and slashed Lilith with a burst of spark. The Megazord swung upward, but Lilith caught the scythe and spat a stream of fire that smashed the Megazord backward with massive bursts of spark.

 

Lilith laughed. “My toys are better than yours.”

 

The ThunderMegazord staggered and nearly collapsed, but managed to swing its scythe. The energy blade shot free, twirled through the air, and slashed Lilith’s chest with a burst of spark.

 

The blow barely fazed Lilith. She slammed her whip against the ground with a shockwave of fire that expanded, incinerated the neighborhood, and smashed against the Megazords.

 

The impact hurled the Megazords through the air as secondary explosions thrashed their armor.

 

Lilith snapped her wings and shot towards the fallen Megazords.

 

From behind, Hurricane Eagle swooped towards the demon.

 

“Hurricane Eagle!” the Green Ranger shouted. “Wing Blades!”

 

The eagle swooped its wings forward and fired volleys of golden energy blades. The blades sparked against the demon, knocking her backward. 

 

“Hurricane Eagle!” the Green Ranger shouted. “Sonic echo!”

 

The zord shrieked, creating a duplicate of sonic energy that shot towards Lilith. The energy duplicate exploded against the demon with massive bursts of jade-tinted flame.

 

Nearby, StormMegazord climbed to its feet.

 

“Alright…” Hurricane Red said. “Let’s combine.”

 

The Rangers stood behind their consoles and placed their hands over their control spheres while focusing on combining their Megazords. Their spheres glowed with intense power.

 

“StormMegazord…” the Wind Power Rangers shouted as their Megazord crackled with golden energy.

 

“ThunderMegazord…” the Thunder Power Rangers shouted as their Megazord pulsed with power.

 

The two Megazords shot into the sky like comets and circled around one another.

 

“Armor merge to…”

 

The two Megazords fused. The kabuto horn formed a fist blade on the Megazord’s right hand, and the kuwaga claw formed a fist blade on the Megazord’s left hand.  The head of the Yellow Ranger’s lion zord formed the chest, and the black armor plating of the ThunderMegazord slid around the arms and legs. A black, beetle-like shell formed on the back of the Megazord, covering the wings of the hawk zord. A thick, shell-like helmet slid into place over the Megazord’s head.

 

The bulky, heavily armored Megazord twisted, and then slammed onto the ground in a crouched position. It armed the pulse cannon attached to the kabuto horn.  

 

“…Thunderstorm Megazord!”

 

Lilith snapped her whip at the Megazord.

 

The Thunderstorm Megazord lifted its kuwaga claw like a shield, and the whip bashed the weapon, nearly knocking the Megazord off its feet.

 

“Horn Blaster!” the Rangers shouted.

 

Thunderstorm Megazord lowered its shield and swung its horn weapon forward. The kabuto horn fired a twirling beam of energy that blasted Lilith with massive bursts of spark, forcing her several steps backward.  

 

“Wings, release!” the Rangers shouted.

 

The Megazord’s back shell opened, revealing the wings of the hawk zord; the wings buzzed with the intensity of an insect. 

 

“Storm Charge!” the Power Rangers shouted.

 

The massive Megazord shot at the demon like a cannonball while aiming the kuwaga claw forward. The claw pincers snapped shut and formed a broad blade that pulsed with the energy of the Rangers: air, earth, water, lightning and shadow.

 

Lilith snapped her whip and bashed the Megazord aside. The Megazord crashed and skid through the subdivision, smashing through homes.

 

Hurricane Hawk dove from the sky.

 

“Kou!” Byakko said. “Bring all your zords together!”

 

“Seriously?” Hurricane Green asked.

 

“Are you really surprised by that, Kou?” Byakko asked.

 

“Don’t get smart,” the Green Ranger said to the saber. “Guys, did you hear Byakko?”

 

“We did,” Hurricane Blue said. “Let’s do it.”

 

“Thunderstorm Megazord…” the Power Rangers shouted as their Megazord crackled with golden energy.

 

“Hurricane Eagle zord…” the Green Ranger shouted as his zord pulsed with jade-tinted light.

 

The two zords shot into the sky like comets and circled around one another.

 

“Armor merge to…”

 

The Megazord slimmed down. The wings of the eagle formed blades along the Megazord’s forearms and legs. The kuwaga claw form a fist weapon on the Megazord’s left fist, and the kabuto horn formed on the Megazord’s helmet.  The head of the eagle formed on the Megazord’s chest. And the head of the hawk formed a gauntlet on the Megazord’s right fist. A slender shell formed on the Megazord’s back, concealing the hawk wings.

 

“…Hurricane Megazord!”

 

The shell opened, revealing the hawk wings. The wings snapped, shooting the Megazord downward.

 

“Hurricane Blade!”

 

A blade extended from the right-handed hawk gauntlet. The Megazord landed and chopped the blade, which slashed Lilith with a massive burst of spark.

 

The Hurricane Megazord spun forward, clamped its stag pincer shut, and stabbed the weapon through Lilith’s chest with a burst of spark and black ichor.

 

Lilith howled with pain and rage.

 

Hurricane Megazord pulled the claw free, spun backward, and fired a twirling energy blast from its helmet. The blast exploded against Lilith’s wound and knocked her several steps backward.

 

Lilith hissed and collapsed to her knees. “You’re not…” she hissed through weakened breath. “You’re not playing nice…”

 

The Hurricane Megazord snapped its wings and shot back into the air.

 

“Hurricane Megazord…” the Rangers shouted. “Raging Hurricane!”

 

The Megazord spun like a drill, emitting a wave of energy that splashed across the subdivision. The energy blinded Lilith, then darkened into waves of shadow that tightened around the demon. Blasts of navy-tinted lightning lashed out from the storm and punctured the monster with bursts of spark. A powerful wave of wind carried torrents of hydro energy and seismic power that smashed against the demon, cracking her body. A pulse of jade-tinted sonic energy smashed through Lilith, blasting her into pieces with a final explosion that singed the streets below.

 

The Hurricane Megazord stopped spinning and landed in a crouched position. Its eyes glowed with golden power as it lowered its weapon.

 

“Well that was fun,” Navy Thunder said sarcastically. “It’s a shame we don’t get together more often.”

 

***

 

Hunter and the others gathered in the woods south of the city.

 

“So what now?” Rachel asked.

 

“You can’t go back to your homes,” Lauren said. “You saw what happened with my foster family…”

 

Hunter nodded. “She’s right.”

 

“So we split up again?” Justin asked.

 

“Looks that way,” Hunter said.

 

“We’re harder to track when we’re separate,” Kou said.

 

“Unless you’re driving,” Justin joked with a smile.

 

Blake shook his head. “No more crummy hotels, alright? Just no.”

 

“We all do things differently this time,” Hunter said, to everyone’s surprise. They heard him speak more in the past hour than during the past two years combined. “We don’t just scatter aimlessly. We don’t wait for trouble to come to us.”

 

“That really doesn’t require much waiting,” Blake said.

 

Kou smirked. “You’re saying we go look for trouble?”

 

Hunter nodded. “Something like that. We find people who need help, and do what we can.”

 

Rachel smiled. “That sounds like a plan. If we’re out there, we might as well make the best out of it.”

 

“You’re being far too optimistic,” Blake said.

 

Rachel rolled her eyes and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Blake, I don’t want my sole purpose in life to be running from INET.”

 

“Then let’s trash INET and be done with it,” Blake said.

 

“We need to give Tommy time,” Lauren said.

 

“Time for what?” Blake asked. “He wasn’t very specific.”

 

“We can’t go through that same argument again,” Rachel said.

 

“Yeah,” Justin agreed. “We said we’d lay low, so that’s what we’ll do.”

 

Blake muttered beneath his breath. “Fine. But no more crummy motels. Seriously, Five-Star, all the way.”

 

***

 

The First Demon, Azmodai, stood on the balcony of an Angel Grove skyscraper. He sensed the loss of Lilith, and he smiled with great joy.

 

“One fewer adversary…” he said softly between sips of wine. “More soldiers to add to my army.”

 

Lilith’s Demunio materialized from the shadows behind him. Leaderless, they searched for a new master. And now served Azmodai.

 

***

 

Hunter started to leave Angel Grove for Stone Canyon when Lauren approached from behind.

 

“Hey…” she said. “Mind if I tag along?”

 

Hunter hesitated. “Tag along?”

 

“I didn’t want to be the third wheel with Rachel and Blake, or get in the middle of Kou and Justin’s bickering every second…” she said. “I know you don’t feel like you don’t fit in well with them. I don’t either. So…let’s not fit in together.”

 

Hunter smiled, ever so slightly, and nodded. “Sounds good. Any preference on location?”

 

“Wherever we can do some good,” she said. “No more feeling worthless. For either of us. Come on…”

 

END