The Dragon’s Rise: Chapter Ten

The Harshness of Neglect

 

The Springs was an outside café in downtown Angel Grove South. Tables and chairs were set up in front of an artificial dam of stone and concrete. High-rise office buildings and stores lined the streets.

 

 

The lunch rush was getting settled, mostly workers from surrounding businesses and shops, when an unexpected visitor dropped in. The creature was the latest monster summoned by Bandora. The monster appeared as a toad-like being with spikes across its head and slimy skin. Its name was DoraToad.

 

The creature’s yellow eyes flashed, and explosions sparked across the café area. Citizens ran in panic and screamed as the creature stalked forward and fired another set of energy pulses.

 

A red blur of motion flipped from behind the water fall and slammed a flying sidekick against the toad’s back. The toad went stumbling forward and skid across the ground as the Power Rangers landed and snapped into fighting stances.

 

“You’re through, toad!” Tyranno Ranger shouted.

 

DoraToad leaned forward and flashed its eyes, firing another energy burst that exploded against the Rangers’ armor.

 

Ptera Ranger and Tiger Ranger recovered first and leapt forward to attack with their Blade Blasters in short-sword mode. The toad lashed out its tongue, whipping the two Rangers out of the air with bursts of spark across their chests.

 

Dragon Ranger and the Dark Warlords shimmered in behind the creature. Dragon Ranger started issuing orders. “Secmet, Kayl, take them from the -”

 

The three warlords ignored Dragon Ranger and charged forward to attack.

 

“Snake Bite strike!” Secmet fired a jagged crimson energy blast that snaked towards the Rangers.

 

“Move guys!” Tyranno Ranger shouted as they leapt for cover. The blast exploded against the pavement, creating a shockwave that sent the Rangers flying off their feet.

 

“Web of Deception!” Dayus shouted as his bladed spears tore into the ground and produced a net of webbing. Tyranno Ranger rose and cut through the webs before they could bind and restrain.

 

Mammoth Ranger leapt forward and chopped his axe towards Kayl’s head. The warlord parried the blow and slashed his saber across the Ranger’s chest.

 

Dragon Ranger dashed forward and snapped a spinning heel kick towards Ptera Ranger. She ducked under the blow and rose while swinging her Blade Blaster towards Dragon Ranger’s chest. The Green Ranger blocked her blow and kicked her in the gut before slamming a backfist across her helmet.

 

Tricera Ranger leapt towards the toad monster and thrust his lance towards the creature. The toad used its tongue to wrap around the Ranger and toss him aside. The creature fired optic pulses that exploded against Tricera Ranger’s armor.

 

The monster stalked towards Tricera Ranger, but a pair of yellow-energized daggers exploded against the creature. It was Tiger Ranger. She flipped forward through the air and slammed a kick that knocked the creature backward.

 

“Thinks, Trini,” Tricera Ranger said as he moved over to the Yellow Ranger’s side.

 

A streak of light struck the toad monster, causing its body to expand and grow giant.

 

Tyranno Ranger used his sword to slash Secmet and Kayl out of his way before raising his hand into the air. “Dinozords arise!”

 

***

 

Dragon Ranger could not believe Bandora’s stupidity. She had the Rangers overpowered with the warlords and a creature but still made the monster grow, before it was even destroyed. How could she not have known the Dinozords would rip her creature apart? It happened every time.

 

The witch needed a new strategy.

 

***

 

The next day, Kimberly walked into her apartment and tossed her keys onto the end table near the door. The apartment was a two bedroom, with a counter separating the kitchen area from the living room. She lived at the apartment with her mother…at least according to the lease.

 

She walked towards the counter and turned on the answering machine. The machine beeped before sounding its new messages.

 

The first was from her mother: “Kimberly this is your mom. I won’t be home until after midnight again today. Bye.”

 

Kimberly sighed. She couldn’t say she was surprised. How many sophomores in high school could honestly say they almost never saw the parent they lived with?

 

The next message was from Zack: “Hey babe, this is Zack. Give me a ring.”

 

“Babe?” she said as she wrinkled her brow. It wasn’t a pet name she was fond of. “Well that’ll have to stop.”

 

Kimberly picked up the cordless phone and dialed Zack’s number. He answered after two rings. “Hey, Zack.”

 

“Hey Kimberly,” Zack said. “We’re having a social gathering at my house tonight. You wanna come?”

 

Kimberly shrugged. She wasn’t exactly a fan of big parties, despite her reputation. Plus, there was always the chance that Bandora would attack during the party. Well, she thought, it‘s better than sitting home alone. “Sure. As long as nothing happens.”

 

“You mean like the boogey man showing up?” he asked.

 

She giggled. “Yeah.” Zack always made her laugh. She needed that in her life.

 

“Okay. See ya around 8.”

 

Kimberly hung up the phone and flopped down on the couch. A smile crossed her face as she started to think about the party. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as she though. At least it would help get her mind off things.

 

Kimberly looked back towards the answering machine and noticed the light still blinking. “Whoops…forgot one.”

 

Kimberly moved back to the counter and pressed the answering machine’s play button. It was her coach: “Kimberly, this is Coach Nern. You weren’t at practice again. I don’t know how you expect to improve your beam work if you don’t show up to practice. Sometimes I think you’re a lost cause and-”

 

Kimberly slapped off the machine and sighed with frustration. She had barely made it to any of her gymnastics practices since becoming a Ranger, and it was giving her coach and gymnastic teammates their latest excuse to pick on her

.

If it wasn’t this it would be something else, she thought to herself as she walked to her room. She went inside and closed the door.

 

***

 

Kimberly showed up at Zack’s home after a trip on the subway. He lived in a subdivision of condominiums nestled in the midst of the bustling city. Zack invited her inside to a crowd of dozens milling around the living and dining rooms. He introduced her to his friends with a smile of pride on his face.

 

She noticed a black-and-gold object sitting on an end table. It was a pipe. She raised an eyebrow and looked at Zack. She did not appear happy. “What’s this?”

 

“Oh nothing.” Zack grabbed it and tossed it aside. He turned to one of his friends and mumbled under his breath. “I thought I said to put that away.”

 

“Zack,” Kimberly said. “Do you…”

 

“Only socially,” Zack said reluctantly.

 

She shook her head with disgust. “I can’t believe this…” she said as she started to walk away.

 

“Kim, come on,” he grabbed her by the arm, but she flipped him onto the ground. Nearby partygoers erupted into laughter.

 

Their communicators suddenly sounded.

 

“Maybe we should go talk,” Kimberly said.

 

Ummm…yeah,” Zack said. The two rangers walked into an empty room and teleported away. And for once, they were glad for the distraction of Bandora’s attack.

 

***

 

Dragon Ranger had a plan. A simple one, but effective. He used one of Bandora’s demonic cards to summon a monster that appeared as an iguana/salamander hybrid. He let DoraSalaguan loose in the city along with a squad of rock soldiers. It seemed like a typical attack, and the Rangers would expect victory.

 

 

DoraSalaguan fired a breath of flame that burnt the streets and caused nearby cars to explode. The rock soldiers scattered, getting civilians to flee in panic. The Rangers would respond by splitting up and tackling the rock soldiers from all sides. It’s what they always did. Dragon Ranger was counting on them to continue their predictable pattern.

 

Dragon Ranger stood on a twelve-story building and watched as three Rangers arrived at the scene. Tyranno Ranger, Tricera Ranger, and Tiger Ranger spread out and attacked the rock soldiers.

 

Dragon Ranger pulled a crystal ball out from behind his back. The crystal emitted an energy burst that streamed towards the ground below. The jagged blue wave surrounded Tyranno Ranger. He disappeared into thin air.

 

***

 

Jason landed face-down on a terrain of rocks. His buckler fell from his waist and skipped across the ground before coming to a halt against a boulder.

 

A black-gloved hand reached down and picked up the buckler. The figure was dressed in an onyx-colored undershirt, covered by a dark-green tunic. His slacks were black as night, and his face was covered in a solid black mask that wrapped around his head.

 

He looked ridiculous, Jason thought.

 

The figure tossed the morphed aside. “We won’t be needing these, Ranger…”

 

The voice was unmistakable. It was the Dragon Ranger.

 

“What are you up to?” Jason rose to his feet and snapped into a fighting stance.

 

“You’re nothing without your powers,” Dragon Ranger said. “When I’m through with you, I’ll go after your little friends. They are weak without their leader.”

 

Dragon Ranger tossed a double-edged sword to Jason’s feet. The gray blade had intricate markings etched along its metal. Thin strands of red cloth wrapped around the handle. The hilt had the same markings as the blade itself.

 

“That sword belonged to Geki, your predecessor,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

The disguised Green Ranger pulled out his own blade, different from the one he used while in his Ranger armor. The metal blade was double edged. Its handle was solid black. Its hilt had two prongs that curved upward.

 

“This ends now, Ranger.” Dragon Ranger stalked towards his opponent.

 

“I couldn’t agree more.” Jason picked up the light sword.

 

“Si-kuya!” Dragon Ranger pounced towards Jason.

 

“Ay-ya!” Jason dashed forward.

 

The two opponents swung their swords diagonally. The blades clashed against each other. Dragon Ranger shifted his wrists and knocked the blade aside while swinging in towards Jason’s chest.

 

Jason spun out of the way and swung his blade towards Dragon Ranger’s head. Dragon Ranger ducked under the blow and slammed a reverse sidekick against the ranger’s chest. He followed with a hook kick that struck across the ranger’s head.

 

***

 

The Rangers’ battle moved to a rock quarry just outside the city. DoraSalaguan had lured them there. And Mammoth Ranger and Ptera Ranger had regrouped with Tiger Ranger and Tricera Ranger.

 

Tricera Ranger charged towards DoraSalaguan and launched a flying roundhouse kick towards the creature. The monster rolled beneath the attack.

 

DoraSalaguan rose back to its feet and spat a fiery torrent of flame from its mouth. The flame blast exploded against Tricera Ranger and Mammoth Ranger, knocking the two Rangers backward.

 

Ptera Ranger kneeled down low and snapped a volley of arrows at the monster. The arrows exploded against the creature as Tiger Ranger dashed forward and slashed the monster across the chest with her daggers.

 

The monster spun with the blow and whipped the Yellow Ranger with its tail.

 

***

 

Jason brought his blade down for a high blow. Dragon Ranger parried the blow and outer-crescent kicked the ranger across the head. Jason went falling backward and rolling across the ground.

 

Jason rose to his knees in time to parry a pair of strikes from Dragon Ranger’s blade. He somersaulted forward, past Dragon Ranger, and rolled to his feet while swinging his sword horizontally.

 

Dragon Ranger blocked the blow and slammed a round kick against Jason’s head. Jason stumbled backward. He landed right next to his buckler.

 

“No!” Dragon Ranger shouted.

 

Jason grabbed his morpher and prepared to snap it open. “Sorry to spoil your fun, but I’m going to help my friends.”

 

Dragon Ranger leapt forward and swung his blade towards Jason’s head. Jason transformed and teleported away, and Dragon Ranger’s sword passed through thin air.

 

***

 

DoraSalaguan grew giant and stomped towards the city. Tyranno Ranger ran to the scene and regrouped with his four friends and teammates.

 

“Just in time for the real fun,” Mammoth Ranger said.

 

The Rangers called for their companion beasts. “Dinozords, arise!”

 

The five zords streaked forward and ran to the Rangers’ aid. The Rangers leapt into the air and entered their zords’ cockpits.

 

Dinozord fusion!” Tyranno Ranger shouted. The five zords reassembled and meshed together, forming the Megadinozord. The Rangers joined in the central cockpit.

 

DoraSalaguan hissed and spat venom that splashed against the Megazord’s armor. The venom exploded against the Megazord, eating into the armor.

 

“This is not good,” Mammoth Ranger said as explosions sparked and rocked the Megazord.

 

“Must you always state the obvious,” Ptera Ranger snapped at him.

 

“Hey,” Mammoth Ranger said defensively.

 

The monster spun forward and slammed its tail against the Megazord, knocking the zord backward.

 

“Not now, you two,” Tyranno Ranger said. “Megadinozord Saber!”

 

The saber activated in the Megazord’s hand. The Megazord slashed upward, its saber sparking against the monster’s thick hide.

 

“Let’s finish him off,” Tyranno Ranger said. “Megadinozord Saber, Battle Crash!”

 

The Megadinozord Saber energized with crimson power and swung downward, cutting through the creature. The monster fell backward, its energy overloading and exploding.

 

***

 

Kimberly and Zack sat silently on a bench outside her apartment building. Kimberly wasn’t sure what exactly to say, so she decided to throw caution to the wind and just get out with it.

 

“So why do you do that to yourself?” Kimberly asked.

 

“Because it’s fun,” Zack answered quickly. A little too quickly, Kimberly thought.

 

“Now, Zack,” she said in a tone that made it clear she wanted the truth. “Tell me. Tell me the truth.”

 

Zack sighed, and his shoulders slumped down. “It’s to escape, Kimberly. This life…it sucks hard core.”

 

Kimberly placed a hand on his shoulder. “You don’t need to do drugs to escape, Zack. That’s what your friends are for. Not those people back at your house. Your real friends. Us.

 

“We’ve all had hard times. My parents are divorced and my mother is never around, Jason just lost a sister recently, Billy’s mother died of cancer when he was a kid, and Trini’s Dad is always giving her a hard time. And we all face death every day as Rangers. These things are horrible, Zack, but they bind us all together.”

 

Zack reluctantly nodded. “I guess.”

 

“And your body doesn’t need that either,” she said. “You’re killing yourself.”

 

“I want to quit but…” he shook his head. He didn’t bother telling her that pot couldn’t really kill you unless a ton of it collapsed on your body. Alcohol was deadlier than pot.

 

“I’ll help you,” Kimberly said.

 

“I feel a but coming,” Zack said.

 

Kimberly nodded. “…but…I don’t think we should see each other in that way until you…” she hesitated, searching for the right word.

 

“Find myself,” Zack said.

 

“Right,” she said. “But I still want to be your friend. I’m here for you always.”

 

“Thanks” Zack said. The two friends hugged.

 

To be continued…Chapter 11