The Dragon’s Rise: Chapter Six

Life’s Lessons

 

The Cathedral had no cultural boundaries. The coffee house/dance club in Angel Grove North was frequented by a broad range of teenagers, from preppies dressed in neat shirts and slacks, to Goths dressed in all black. The Cathedral was a favorite hangout for Zack and his friends from school.

 

Zack sat at a small table with three of his friends. He drank Coke instead of coffee or tea. The room was dimly lit with the faint glow of neon lights creeping in from the dance floor in the building’s rear.

 

“So what’s her name?” Zack’s friend Ian asked. Ian wore a black jacket draped over a gray buttoned shirt. His dark hair was short and slick.

 

“Kimberly,” Zack said. “We’re going out again this weekend.”

 

Zack’s friend Kevin slugged him on the shoulder. “You dog.”

 

Zack smiled and shrugged. “I try.” He pulled out a flask of alcohol and filled his cup with it. He took a hard drink. “Whoa…” he shook his head.

 

“Would you like some Coke with that?” Ian laughed. “Damn, man, you’ve been going all day.”

 

Zack simply smiled and took another sip. The teenager often drank with his friends. On weekends they would gather at whichever home was parent-less to smoke weed and sample other drugs.

 

Zack was about to come back with a witty remark when his communicator toned. “Oh man, not now…”

 

“I didn’t know you had a pager,” Ian said.

 

“It was a gift.” Zack rose to his feet, the alcohol hitting his head with a wave of dizziness. He stumbled to the door, hoping Bandora had sent a monster no stronger than a bunny. A very small bunny.

 

***

 

Mammoth Ranger ran to the Starr Financial District in Angel Grove West. A four-armed gladiator-type creature was ripping apart the streets with energy blasts and swipes from his broadswords. The creature threw a car into a building, causing a massive explosion.

 

“Zack!” Tiger Ranger called when she saw her teammate run towards them. DoraGladiator was too powerful for the team to handle with only four Rangers.

 

Mammoth Ranger regrouped with the others and leaned on his knees to catch his breath. Another wave of dizziness hit him. He had learned a few months ago that alcohol and exercise was not a wise mix.

 

Ptera Ranger placed a hand on his back. “Are you okay?”

 

“Just great,” Mammoth Ranger said as he steadied himself. “Too much movement makes my head spin.”

 

“Maybe you should sit this one out,” Ptera Ranger said.

 

“No way.” Mammoth Ranger swatted her hand away and stepped past her. He was not about to let her think he was worthless. “He’s mine!”

 

Mammoth Ranger charged at the monster. DoraGladiator stepped back into a fighting stance and aimed his sword at the approaching Ranger.

 

“That hot head!” Tyranno Ranger shouted. He was growing tired of Mammoth Ranger’s recklessness.

 

“Mammoth Breaker!” Mammoth Ranger held his axe high and leapt towards the monster.

 

DoraGladiator slashed his blade across Mammoth Ranger’s chest with a burst of spark that knocked the Black Ranger from the air. Mammoth Ranger crashed onto his back as the monster stalked towards him.

 

The Black Ranger ignored the pain and shot to his feet, throwing himself at the monster for a second time.

 

DoraGladiator effortlessly blocked Mammoth Ranger’s chops and slashes. The monster’s lower hands pulled out two double-edged axes and charged the blades with crackling energy. 

 

“Crusher Axe!” The energized blades slashed against Mammoth Ranger with a massive burst of spark that tossed him backward. The Black Ranger stumbled out of control and landed near a marble sculpture at the center of the plaza.

 

DoraGladiator powered up a massive electrical blast and fired at Mammoth Ranger, who had risen to his knees.

 

“No!” Tyranno Ranger shouted as he pushed Mammoth Ranger out of the way. The blast exploded against the Red Ranger’s helmet with deafening force.

 

Tyranno Ranger’s limp body crashed back against the ground. His broken helmet dissipated because of a power overload in his body. Jason’s bare forehead had blood trickling down it.

 

“Jason!” Ptera Ranger ran to her friend’s side while snapping arrows at the gladiator monster to keep it at bay. The four Rangers gathered around their fallen leader’s side and teleported away with a burst of light.

 

***

 

“How do you feel, Dragon Ranger?” Goldar asked. The two villains stood on Bandora’s palace balcony and watched the battle on Earth. “Knowing that a barely-sentient monstrosity could accomplish what you couldn’t? Could kill the Red Ranger?” 

 

“Never under estimate your enemies, Goldar,” Dragon Ranger said. He kept his eyes on the planet below. “That’s why you’ve failed time and again.”

 

Goldar snarled his teeth and reached for his sword, ready to silence the Ranger with a swipe from his blade.

 

Dragon Ranger turned and walked past the simian, still not making eye contact. “I have more important things to do…”

 

Goldar turned and glared at the departing Ranger. “Fool,” he grumbled under his breath. “Foolish boy.”

 

***

 

The rangers returned to the Command Chamber. Alpha and Billy led Jason to one of the medical beds on the outskirts of the chamber. The medical table was made of stone identical to the rest of the chamber. A panel attached the table had a slick, flat control console with various colored controls and displays.

 

Billy and Alpha laid Jason onto the medical bed. They extended a slab that hovered over his chest. Light pulsed through the slab like blood coursing through veins. Alpha and Billy monitored Jason’s vital signs and tended to his wounds. A soft blue glow drifted over his body as the medical bed made what repairs it could.

 

Zack sat with his back against one of the chamber’s outer columns. His head hung low as Billy and Alpha tended to Jason nearby.

 

Kimberly sat across from him on the floor, placing a hand on his leg. “Are you okay?”

 

Zack shook his head. The teen was consumed with guilt. “No…no I’m not. This is all my fault.”

 

Kimberly shook her head and leaned forward. “No it’s not. You’re being too hard on yourself.”

 

“No, Kimberly,” Zack said as he pushed himself back onto his feet. “I’m not being hard enough.” He turned and ran off.

 

***

 

DoraGladiator continued to stomp through the streets. His rampage had moved from the financial district to Angel Springs Plaza, a path of white concrete that wrapped through flower gardens and patches of grass with ornate statues and fountains.

 

Zack ran to the scene. His rage and anger covered his guilt. He skid to a halt and watched the monster send an energy blast exploding through a statue.

 

“Hey you!” Zack shouted. “The freak with the four arms!”

 

The mindless gladiator turned and hissed at the ranger. The monster recognized his enemy well. Its entire existence hinged on killing the teens.

 

“You hurt my friend,” Zack shouted as he readied his Dino Buckler. “Now I’m going to hurt you! Dino Buckler!”

 

Zack thrust the buckler forward and snapped it open. Dark energy spread across his body as he transformed into his suit of armor. He snapped into a fighting stance. “Mammoth Ranger! Black!”

 

The opponents charged at one another. Mammoth Ranger armed his axe, but DoraGladiator chose to fight bare handed.

 

Mammoth Ranger leapt through the air and chopped an axe towards the monster’s head. DoraGladiator blocked the blow with one set of hands and double punched Mammoth Ranger in the chest with another set.

 

Mammoth Ranger fell to the ground, but quickly flipped back up.

 

“Blade Blaster!” The Black Ranger fired lances of energy at the creature. But DoraGladiator quickly armed his weapons and deflected each blast.

 

“Electric Shocker!” DoraGladiator fired a bolt of electric energy that exploded against Mammoth Ranger and sent him crashing into one of the plaza fountains.

 

***

 

Jason rubbed the back of his head and sat up on the medical bed. His entire body ached. Dots of light still blurred his vision. He rubbed his eyes to try and clear his sight.

 

“He’s awake!” young Simon called out from besides the medical bed. Maya and Simon had arrived at the Command Chamber after hearing about Jason’s injury.

 

Jason fought a wave of dizziness and rose to his feet. “What’s going on?”

 

Zordon looked to the ranger. “You were injured by Bandora’s latest creature and brought here. Zack is now engaging the monster alone.”

 

“What?” Kimberly asked with shock. She and the others looked to the Viewing Globe. An image appeared of Mammoth Ranger getting pummeled by DoraGladiator’s fists.

 

“The five of you must function together,” Zordon told the rangers. “Your strength lies in team work.”

 

Jason looked to his team. “Let’s go help Zack…”

 

“May The Power protect you,” Zordon said.

 

***

 

DoraGladiator chopped a blade towards Mammoth Ranger’s head. But Tyranno Ranger appeared and kicked the blade away. The Red Ranger smashed a spinning heel kick against the monster, knocking it away from Mammoth Ranger.

 

“You’re on a roll today,” Mammoth Ranger said as he climbed back to his feet.

 

“Let’s form the Power Blaster,” Tricera Ranger said.

 

“Good call,” Tyranno Ranger said. “Let’s bring ’em together!”

 

The Rangers combined their five weapons to form the Power Blaster. “Power Blaster!” the Rangers shouted. “Fire!”

 

DoraGladiator charged at the Rangers. But the Power Blaster fired a stream of energy that punched through the monster’s armor and tore through its body. The creature’s energy overloaded and exploded with a ball of flame.

 

One of Bandora’s cards streaked through the skies and struck the monster’s remains. The card triggered a spell that reassembled the four-armed monster on a gigantic scale.

 

The Rangers raised their hands towards the skies and called for their cavalry. “Dinozords, arise!”

 

The five Dinozords stomped through the streets. The Rangers leapt into their zords’ cockpits.

 

“Dinozord fusion!” Tyranno Ranger shouted.

 

The five Dinozords reassembled and combined to form the Megadinozord. The Rangers joined in the Megazord’s central cockpit, embedded in its chest armor.

 

DoraGladiator swung an axe towards the Megazord. But Megadinozord used its forearm to parry the blow and slammed a backfist against the creature’s chest.

 

“Let’s make this quick,” Tyranno Ranger said. “Megadinozord Saber, Battle Crash!”

 

Megadinozord lifted its sword high above its head. The blade energized with crimson power as the Megazord swung downward. The saber cut through the gladiator, causing the creature to stumble backward as its energy overloaded and exploded.

 

***

 

Zack sat alone outside the Command Chamber. Jason walked up besides his fellow ranger and took a seat. Zack had told Jason to meet him outside.

 

“So what’s up?” Jason asked.

 

Zack took a deep breath. What he was about to say did not come easy for him. “I just wanted to…say thanks,” he said. “And I’m sorry. You almost died because of me.”

 

“We’re part of a team now,” Jason said. “We have to look out for each other. We’re not invincible you know.”

 

Zack nodded. “I know now.”

 

Jason patted him on the back. “Thanks Zack.”

 

Jason climbed back to his feet and walked inside. Zack followed a moment later, Jason’s words weighing heavy on his mind. They were not invincible. Far from it.

 

***

 

Zack sat on his basement floor with a group of friends. His parents were gone for the weekend on different business trips, meaning it was his turn to host. They passed around a small black-and-gold marijuana bowl.

 

“You’re awfully quiet,” Ian said to him. “We usually can’t shut you up about this time.”

 

The others laughed, more so than the comment called for.

 

Zack nodded, his eyes glazed over. “I was just thinking…”

 

“About what?”

 

“Death.”

 

They laughed again between hits.

 

“Seriously,” Zack said. “Who knows when we’re going to die? Or how? It could happen tomorrow.”

 

His friends laughed at him again. Kevin leaned so far back with laughter he actually tipped over.

 

Zack shook his head and took another hit. It’s all real to me now…too real.

 

To be continued…Chapter Seven