The Dragon’s Rise: Chapter Nineteen

The Green Candle

 

Bandora stood on her balcony and faced the Earth. She closed her eyes and whispered an incantation while moving her hands over a hovering crystal ball. Her eyes suddenly snapped open. “Yes…” she hissed as a smile crossed her face. “I’ve got it, finally.”

 

A slender green candle appeared on a pedestal behind her. Its wick ignited with jade fire. Bandora smiled as the candle’s flame flickered in the artificial wind.

 

***

 

Kimberly and Tommy walked along Bear Lake. They laughed with each other and joked about whatever crossed their minds. Their attraction to each other was palpable. But they would not admit it to each other.

 

“So, Tommy,” Kimberly said. “My school is having a dance this Friday…”

 

“Oh,” Tommy said. His face turned slightly red. Was she asking him? And even if she was, what would he say? She deserved more than him. He had tried to kill her. “That sounds cool…”

 

An army of rock soldiers suddenly flipped through the air. People in the park ran away in panic.

 

“I’m getting sick of these clowns.” Kimberly snapped into a fighting stance.

 

Tommy stood by her side and snapped into a fighting stance. The rock soldiers circled around them. “I think the feeling is mutual…”

 

The two rangers plowed through the villains. Tommy slammed a sidekick against a soldier to his right, turned, and reverse hook kicked another soldier across the head.

 

Kimberly flipped backward while kicking a soldier upside the head. She leaned back and slammed an elbow against a second soldier. A rock soldier moved towards her. She snapped an outer crescent kick that knocked the soldier aside.

 

More soldiers appeared. Kimberly slammed a knifehand strike against a soldier’s neck. She pulled her buckler free to transform. One of the soldiers slammed a front kick against her wrist. The buckler was knocked from her hand and went bouncing across the ground. “Tommy, my buckler!”

 

Tommy flipped a soldier over his shoulder and reached for his own transformation device.

 

“Dino Buckler!” he shouted as he snapped his morpher open. His Power Coin flashed with jade energy as green light covered his body. He transformed into his armor.

 

Dragon Ranger unsheathed his dagger and swung upward, slashing across a soldier’s chest. He followed with a jump kick while moving towards Kimberly. The kick cleared the soldier away as another three took its place.

 

Kyra suddenly appeared in midair behind Dragon Ranger. “Star Light Scream!” she shouted as she spun her twin blades. The blades shot jagged blasts of crimson energy that exploded against Dragon Ranger’s back and tossed him forward.

 

Dragon Ranger regained his footing and turned to face Kyra. But Gurail appeared and slammed a drop kick against the Ranger’s back. Dragon Ranger went flying off his feet and skidding across the ground.

 

Kyra landed and moved towards Kimberly. She grabbed the ranger by the hair and pulled back. Kyra and Kimberly shimmered away.

 

“No!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he rose back to his feet. He glared at Gurail. “Bring her back, Gurail! Now!”

 

Gurail laughed with insanity. He was amused by Tommy’s despair. “Why should I?”

 

“Gurail, don’t do this!” Dragon Ranger shouted. “What if it was Kyra, how would you feel!

 

Gurail laughed again. “I would take it with much more self dignity. I must say Dragon Ranger, you never seemed like the type that would beg.”

 

Dragon Ranger shouted at the top of his lungs and charged towards Gurail. The Green Ranger held his dagger high and pounced forward. He dashed towards Gurail and swung down his blade.

 

Gurail parried the blow and slammed his heel against Dragon Ranger’s chest. Dragon Ranger was knocked back, but Gurail snapped out his chain. The chain wrapped around Dragon Ranger’s neck. Gurail pulled the Ranger forward and slammed a knee against the Green Ranger’s gut before tossing him aside.

 

Dragon Ranger went skidding across the ground.

 

Gurail disarmed his chain and blade. “I don’t have time for this, traitor,” he growled to the Ranger. “Bandora has other plans for you…”

 

The villain shimmered away.

 

***

 

“She’s doing it to get back at me. I know it.” Tommy paced back and forth across the Command Chamber’s stone floor. The other rangers stood with him as Alpha and Billy searched for Kimberly using one of the control consoles.

 

“Relax, man,” Zack said. “How do you know?”

 

Tommy turned. His eyes narrowed. “Because I know the way her sick and twisted mind works, Zack.”

 

“Billy,” Jason walked over to his friend. “Have you found anything on her yet?”

 

Billy shook his head. His eyes were fixed on the control console in front of him. “Negative.”

 

“Ay-yi-yi,” Alpha said with frustration as he turned to face Jason. “We can’t find her anywhere!”

 

A thought suddenly struck Tommy. He kicked himself for not realizing it sooner. “I know where Kimberly is.”

 

Alarms suddenly blared in the Command Chamber. “Rangers,” Zordon said, “observe the Viewing Globe.”

 

The rangers faced the globe. Through the images inside the crystal sphere, they saw a green-skinned hulk of a monster rip through the city streets. Spikes ran down its back. Its eyes were blood red. The creature was attacking Angel Grove South, near the Starr Institute of Technology.

 

“I’ll get Kimberly,” Tommy said. “You guys take care of the Thorlack.”

 

“The what?” Zack asked.

 

“It’s what the monster is,” Tommy said impatiently.

 

Jason shook his head. “No way you’re going alone.”

 

“I have to,” Tommy said. He would never understand why Jason would be worried about his safety. He used to be the Rangers’ greatest enemy. “It’s my fault in the first place.”

 

Jason reluctantly nodded. He knew it was useless to argue. He pointed to his communicator. “If you need me…you call.”

 

Tommy nodded and reached for his buckler.

 

***

 

Tommy approached the mouth of a cave outside of Angel Grove. The inside was dark and damp, just like he remembered. “This is it…”

 

Tommy slowly stepped forward and entered the cave. His mind flashed back…

 

Tommy awoke to find himself inside a dark cavern. Beads of sweat dripped down his forehead. His skin felt hot, but his insides were chilled.

 

“Where…” he said as he struggled to catch his breath. “Shannon…”

 

His eyes darted back and forth across the empty cave, but he saw nothing through the dense cloud of darkness.

 

“Tommy…” a wretched voice said from the shadows.

 

“Who…?” Tommy said as he instinctively tried to take a step back from the voice. But it was futile. The voice surrounded him, sending chills creeping down his spine.

 

“She’s dead, Tommy,” the voice he would later recognize as Bandora’s said. “But you can avenge her…”

 

Tommy wrinkled his brow as anger welled up inside of him, fighting off the cold, heating his body with rage. “How…”

 

“The sword…” Bandora’s voice said. “The sword…”

 

A double-edged blade suddenly appeared in front of him.

 

“The sword…” she said again.

 

“I should have taken that sword and crammed it in her ass when I had the chance,” he said as he crawled through a tight space in the cave. He descended further before dropping down a hole, flipping, and landing in a crouched position.

 

He looked up and saw that he was in a dimly-lit room. Fog hovered above the ground. A single spotlight cast a pale glow on a dull-golden pedestal. The pedestal had a green candle on it. The wick’s jade flame danced in the artificial breeze.

 

 Gurail stepped forward from the shadows and stood behind the candle.

 

“So…” Tommy said, not at all startled by the villain’s appearance. “Are you Bandora’s new number one?”

 

“There wasn’t much competition after you killed her warlords,” Gurail said with a smug grin on his face.

 

“They gave me little choice,” Tommy said.

 

“You enjoyed it,” Gurail said.

 

“Oh, please,” Tommy said. “You think your sweet talking can turn me evil when Bandora’s hokey spell couldn’t even keep me that way?”

 

“You are evil, Tommy,” Gurail said. “But that’s not why we’re here…it’s the candle. “

 

Tommy wrinkled his brow. “What?”

 

“This candle has a link with you, Tommy,” Gurail said. “It’s siphoning power through your coin…through you…Soon the Dragon Ranger will be no more.”

 

The villain tilted his head back and started laughing.

 

Tommy pulled out his transformation device and snapped it open while shouting “Dino Buckler!” He transformed into his armor with a burst of green light.

 

Dragon Ranger lunged towards the candle, but he passed through it and crashed against the ground.

 

“It’s not really there, you fool,” Gurail said. “It’s in Bandora’s palace. This is just a projection.”

 

Dragon Ranger unsheathed his dagger and swung towards Gurail, but the villain shimmered away before the dagger could connect.

 

Dragon Ranger shouted into the shadows. “I don’t care about my powers! Where’s Kim?”

 

No one answered. Through the side of his visor, Dragon Ranger noticed a tunnel in between two wedged pieces of rock. He ran through the tunnel.

 

***

 

The other four Rangers appeared behind the Thorlack. Tyranno Ranger armed his double-edged sword and pointed the weapon towards the creature. “Hold it right there!” 

 

The creature turned and snarled at the Rangers. The monster’s tongue hung loose between its razor-sharp teeth. The Thorlack howled and spat a swirling vortex of jade energy from his jaws. The energy blast exploded around the Rangers, kicking up debris as the team dove for cover.

 

The Rangers slowly rose back to their feet. Tyranno Ranger led them in a charge towards the green-skinned monster.

 

***

 

Kimberly was tied down to a slab of rock that sat across the cave floor. She was in a small section of the cave, where the rocks appeared midnight blue. Kyra sat besides the ranger and watched Kimberly struggle to break free from the straps around her wrists and ankles.

 

“Why do you do this?” Kimberly asked.

 

“You deserve it,” Kyra said.

 

Kimberly wrinkled her brow. “Why?”

 

Kyra looked off. Her eyes glazed over. “Because you do…”

 

Kimberly rolled her eyes. Kyra was starting to give her the creeps. “Tommy told me about you,” Kimberly said. She was not going to give up. She had to somehow trick Kyra and escape. “He said you’re not like the others.”

 

“I am like them,” she said. Her gaze was still empty. “Like Gurail.”

 

“You love him?” Kimberly asked.

 

She nodded.

 

“I find it hard to believe someone like you is capable of love,” Kimberly said.

 

“I am,” Kyra said.

 

Kimberly rolled her eyes again. “You have issues.”

 

***

 

The Thorlack slammed its fists against Tyranno Ranger’s chest. The Red Ranger went flying off his feet, crashing back-first against a stone column, making a web of cracks along the concrete pillar upon impact.

 

Mammoth Ranger swung his axe towards the creature’s head. But the villain bit down on the axe and ripped the weapon from Mammoth Ranger’s hands. The villain followed by slamming the back of his fist across Mammoth Ranger’s helmet.

 

Mammoth Ranger slammed through a lamp pole and skid across the ground towards Tyranno Ranger. Mammoth Ranger rubbed his nearly-broken shoulder and rose to his knees. “That’s one buff monster…”

 

Tiger Ranger and Tricera Ranger leapt towards the creature. They armed their blasters and fired lances of crimson energy that exploded against the monster’s body with a shower of sparks. The creature retaliated with red optic blasts that exploded against the Rangers’ armor.

 

One of Bandora’s cards streaked down from the skies in a stream of dark light. The card struck the monster’s body and enveloped the creature with a rippling wave of power. The creature expanded with a thundering boom and grew giant.

 

“Dinozords arise!” the four Rangers shouted as they raised their hands into the air. The four armored beasts stomped through the streets and charged towards the giant monster.

 

The Thorlack opened its jaws and launched a torrent of swirling jade energy from its mouth. The energy blast exploded against the Tyrannosaurus, knocking the beast backward and sending it sliding across the ground.

 

The Sabertooth Tiger pounced forward, aiming high as the Triceratops moved in to tackle against the creature low. The monster swatted the Tiger aside and kicked the Triceratops away.

 

“This is nuts,” Mammoth Ranger said as he moved his zord forward.

 

“We can’t form the Megazord without Kimberly,” Tiger Ranger said.

 

***

 

Kimberly continued to struggle against her bindings as Kyra watched. “Why do you keep staring at me like that?”

 

“I wonder why you struggle,” Kyra said. “There’s nothing you can do.”

 

Dragon Ranger burst into the cave room. “Kyra! I don’t want to have to hurt you.”

 

“Dragon Ranger…” A smile crossed her lips. She stood and armed her two sai. “Star Light Scream!”

 

Jagged blasts of light-red energy lashed out from her blades and exploded against Dragon Ranger with bursts of spark. Dragon Ranger ignored the blasts and charged to attack.

 

The Green Ranger slashed Kyra’s blades aside and spun forward with a reverse sidekick that slammed against Kyra’s chest. The blow tossed Kyra back and slammed her against the cave wall.

 

Kyra moaned with pain and rubbed the back of her head as she struggled to stay on her feet. Her legs collapsed, and she fell to the ground.

 

Dragon Ranger ran to Kimberly’s side and untied her. He helped her up from the stone slab. “Are you alright?”

 

“I will be,” she said. The Green Ranger handed Kimberly her morpher. “Dino buckler!” Pink energy swirled around her as she morphed into her Ranger form.

 

“Let’s get out of here,” Dragon Ranger said. “The others need us.”

 

The two Rangers ran past Kyra and left the cave room. Kyra moaned and pulled herself back to her feet. “Tommy…”

 

***

 

The Thorlack stomped towards the fallen Tyrannosaurus. The creature charged its eyes with crimson energy as it prepared to deliver a final blow to the zord. Before the creature could strike, the armored Pterodactyl swooped down from the skies and fired swirling beams of energy that exploded against the monster and knocked it backward.

 

The tune of the Dragon Dagger cut through the air. Dragon Ranger stepped onto the ledge of a nearby roof and summoned his zord from the depths of the ocean. The green-and-gold armored Dragonzord stomped through the streets towards its target.

 

“Alright,” Tyranno Ranger said. “Dinozord fusion!”

 

Dragon Ranger watched as the five zords combined into one. He was about to use the Dragonzord to lay down covering fire when a crippling wave of pain overwhelmed him. His legs failed, and he collapsed to all fours.

 

What’s happening…to me… he tried to keep from panicking. His armor fluctuated as if its energy strands were being unwoven. Several of the strands were loosening. Rings of energy traveled along his arms. Power crackled along his chest shield. His powers were unstable.

 

“Megadinozord Saber…” he heard his friends command. “Battle Crash!” The saber cut through the giant monster. The villain’s energy overloaded and exploded.

 

Dragon Ranger’s armor fluctuated again. It looked like a spotlight was shining over him, casting a green-grid light pattern where his armor was weakening.

 

***

 

Bandora stood in her palace and watched the green candle burn. Green strands of The Power were weaving a sphere above the candle.

 

“Burn, candle, burn!” she shouted. The Green Ranger’s end was at hand.

 

***

 

The Rangers gathered around Dragon Ranger on the rooftops. His armor was losing stability.

 

“Tommy, what’s wrong?” Ptera Ranger asked.

 

“My powers…” Dragon Ranger said. “The candle…”

 

“What candle?” Tyranno Ranger asked.

 

“Get me to Zordon…” Dragon Ranger said.

 

***

 

Tommy sat on the Command Chamber’s bio bed as Alpha scanned him. He looked up towards Zordon. “How can she be stealing my powers?”

 

“She likely placed a curse on you and your Power Coin while you were in her service,” Zordon said. “The curse appears to be linked to this candle. When the candle burns out, she will control the Dragon coin’s power.”

 

Tommy shook his head.

 

“We have to get that candle,” Jason said.

 

“I’m afraid it is too late, Jason,” Zordon said.

 

“What?” Kimberly said.

 

“The only way to keep the Dragon power out of Bandora’s hands is to strip Tommy of his powers, remove the coin’s connection to the One Power, and place the coin in the hands of another ranger,” Zordon said.

 

“Isn’t there another way?” Tommy asked.

 

“I am afraid not,” Zordon said.

 

Tommy rose and stumbled. Zack and Billy helped him to his feet. Tommy pulled out his Power Coin and held it in his palm. Mixed emotions ran through him.

 

“Here,” Tommy said as he held the coin up towards Zordon.

 

“Tommy no,” Kimberly said.

 

“There’s no other choice, Kim,” Tommy said.

 

“Are you ready Tommy?” Zordon asked.

 

Tommy nodded. He looked to Jason. “I want you to take the coin.”

 

Jason nodded. His face was stern.

 

Zordon closed his eyes. “You may feel some discomfort.”

 

Zordon’s image vibrated as a powerful hum filled the Command Chamber. Tommy’s body started to flash with a green hue as his Power Coin began to pulse. Then it all stopped.

 

Tommy nearly collapsed to the ground, but Jason caught him. Tommy pulled himself back to his feet and leaned on Jason’s shoulder for support. Tommy placed the coin in Jason’s hand. Jason formed a fist around the coin as it pulsed from green to red.

 

“It is done,” Zordon said.

 

Tommy almost collapsed again. His entire body felt like clay. He groaned in pain as what seemed like a lifetime’s worth of old injuries stung him.

 

“Will he be okay?” Kimberly asked.

 

“Yes,” Zordon said. “It will take his body some time to adjust from being separated from The Power.”

 

Tommy and Kimberly looked into each others eyes. What did this mean for them?

 

“I’m sorry, Tommy…” Jason said. He placed a hand on Tommy’s shoulder.

 

***

 

“No!” Bandora yelled. The energy hovering above the green candle faded away. “They stole my power! This can‘t happen!”

 

***

 

Tommy sat by Bear Lake and threw stones into the water. The stamp of Bandora’s evil was gone. His only source of redemption was gone. Kimberly was gone. What the hell was he supposed to do?

 

A man dressed in a dark trench coat walked up behind Tommy.

 

“Can I help you?” Tommy stood and turned around to face the man.

 

The Dark Man shook his head. “No…but maybe I can help you. It must be hard…”

 

“What are you talking about?” Tommy asked as he wrinkled his brow.

 

“Losing your powers,” the Dark Man said. “The Dragon Ranger is no more.”

 

“Who are you?” Tommy asked. He rolled his hands into fists. “One of Bandora’s goons?”

 

The dark-haired man laughed. “Oh, Tommy. Your true war goes far beyond your little conflict with Bandora.”

 

“Who are you? I’m not going to ask again!”

 

“So much anger, Tommy…just like your father…”

 

“What?!”

 

“I must be going.” The man stepped behind a tree. Tommy followed the man behind the tree, but he was gone.

 

To be continued…Chapter 20