The Dragon’s Rise: Chapter Twenty-seven

The Palace Falls

 

Cyclopsis ripped through the streets while demolishing buildings in its path. The war zord used its blades to strike down every piece of infrastructure it could find. Citizens below ran in panic as debris fell around them, and the black fog of DaiSatan spread sickness.

 

The six teens scattered around the streets, trying to help in whatever way possible.

 

A girl’s leg was broken near the base of a skyscraper that was falling apart. She screamed in terror as a massive piece of debris fell towards her. Tommy dashed forward, lifted her up, and jumped away as the debris smashed against the empty ground where she was moments before.

 

He brought her to the entrance of a nearby shelter and dropped her off with one of the workers. Jason and the others also helped as many injured residents to the shelters as they could.

 

The shelter worker dropped his jaw with shock as the rangers ran back towards the chaos. “Kids! Get back here! You’ll get yourselves killed!”

 

***

 

Bandora stood on her balcony as carnage spread over the dark streets below. Kai shimmered into the palace behind her. She turned to face him. Her face beamed with pride. She moved to embrace him. “Kai…”

 

Kai floated upward and slipped from her embrace. He landed on the balcony railing. “Mother…I am not the same person I used to be…”

 

Bandora shook her head. Her son was alive. She had to get through to him. First she had to finish the Rangers’ destruction. Then her life could return to normal. She pulled a final card from her stack and held the card between her fingers. “One card left…”

 

She threw the card over the city streets with a streak of dark light.

 

***

 

The teens stumbled to the ground with exhaustion. They had moved to a small slip of parkland to regroup and get some fresh air. They weren’t sure why the black smog didn’t affect them. The smog only seemed to make certain people in the city sick.

 

“This is crazy,” Zack said as he caught his breath. “Bandora has our zords.”

 

 

A boomerang blade suddenly cut through the air towards the teens. The six rangers rolled out of the way as the blade moved past them and arced back towards its owner. A monster in dark-red gladiator style armor caught the blade. The creature was Bandora’s last monster: DoraBlade.

 

A group of rock soldiers stepped into loose formation besides the monster.

 

The rangers rose to their feet and readied their morphers. They snapped the devices open while shouting: “Dino Buckler!”

 

Nothing happened.

 

“Why isn’t anything happening?” Trini asked.

 

Billy looked to his morpher. “Our Power Coins draw power from our zords. Bandora must have a spell on them blocking the transference of power.”

 

The rock soldiers charged to attack.

 

Jason armed the sword Tommy had given him what seemed like a lifetime ago, when Dragon Ranger was a warlord with Bandora. The double-edged 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. The sword had belonged to Geki, the first Tyranno Ranger.

 

Jason parried a soldier’s blow and slashed the grunt while dashing forward. He twirled his blade in a butterfly pattern while cutting through three soldiers and moving towards Bandora’s monster.

 

DoraBlade chopped its blade towards Jason’s head. Jason sidestepped while parrying the blow, and he side kicked the creature in the chest. The demon slammed a backfist across Jason’s face. Jason was smashed backward and went tumbling across the ground.

 

Tommy slammed a flying sidekick against a soldier and spun around with a hook kick that smashed the soldier across the head. He saw Jason in trouble and jumped to help his friend.

 

Tommy roundhouse kicked the monster’s blade and continued his spin to slam a reverse sidekick against the creature’s chest.

 

Kimberly grabbed a soldier by the wrist, twisted, and flipped the grunt to the ground.

 

Zack, Billy, and Trini stood with their backs towards each other. Trini kept the rock soldiers at bay with precision strikes of kicks and punches. Zack spun a flurry of kicks that knocked down soldiers left and right. Billy moved in low, twisting his body while slamming a palm-heel blow against a grunt’s chest.

 

Jason chopped his sword at DoraBlade, but the monster parried his blow. Jason twisted his wrist and brought the sword in low, but the creature blocked that blow and slammed a kick against Jason’s chest. Jason’s body flipped backward and slammed to the ground.

 

Tommy helped Jason to his feet as the monster stalked towards them.

 

In the distance, the dark image of DaiSatan turned his gaze towards the Rangers. He blew a twirling vortex of wind that lifted the rangers from their feet and sent them flailing towards the other side of the city.

 

The rangers landed in another strip of parkland. The sky was bright above, but they could still see the dark cloud hanging over the center of Angel Grove in the distance.

 

Zack spotted a water fountain. “Water…” he said. He was exhausted, as were the others. He turned on the fountain, but a stream of blood flowed out instead of water. “Sick.”

 

Billy shook his head. “It’s DaiSatan…”

 

The other rangers slowly climbed back to their feet.

 

“Guys!” a voice shouted from a nearby hill. They turned to see Maya and Simon hurry towards them.

 

“What are you doing here?” Jason asked. He would have preferred they stayed in the Command Chamber where it was safe.

 

“We were worried,” Maya said.

 

Simon tugged on Tommy’s sleeve. “What are you going to do?”

 

Tommy shook his head. He had no idea. “We’ll think of something.”

 

The rangers’ bucklers started to vibrate with power. The teens inspected their morphers and saw that their Power Coins were glowing. The six coins pulses with energy as six spirits appeared above them: spirits of the original six Rangers of Earth.

 

“Whoa,” Simon whispered as he took a step back. “Who are they?”

 

“The Rangers of the past,” Jason said. “They were the ones who gave us our Power Coins.”

 

Geki looked down at the rangers. “Bandora has your Shogozyu.”

 

“Our what?” Zack said.

 

“Our zords,” Billy answered.

 

“You must not give up hope,” Geki said. “You can still retrieve your zords and defeat DaiSatan, but there isn’t much time left.”

 

“How?” Tommy asked.

 

Geki extended his hand. A wooden door frame appeared. The rangers saw only pitch black when they looked through the frame. “Through that door. May The Power protect you.

 

The spirits vanished.

 

***

 

Jason, Zack, and Tommy tied a rope around their waists. They had no idea what was on the other side of that door and wanted to be prepared. Jason looked to the others. “We’ll go in. You three stay here and watch Maya and Simon.”

 

“Be careful,” Kimberly said to them.

 

The three rangers slowly stepped into the darkness. The dark was so thick that the rangers could not see their hands within an inch of their own face. Dim, pale light started to creep through stone walls as they walked through what looked a wide chamber.

 

Artificial wind blew through the passageway. Suddenly, spirits of Bandora’s dead monsters appeared: DoraKnight, DoraUnicorn, DoraGladiator, DoraLizator, DoraNinja, and DoraTitan.

 

The teens snapped into fighting stances. Zack shook his head. “We’ve beaten all these guys before.”

 

Jason tightened his grip on his sword. “We’ll have to do it again.”

 

Tommy pounced forward with a flying sidekick towards DoraNinja. But he passed through the dark warrior. DoraNinja snapped a hook kick that slammed across the ranger’s head.

 

Jason swung his blade in an x-shaped pattern, but each swing passed harmlessly through DoraUnicorn. The monster slammed a backfist across Jason’s head. The teen went stumbling backward and rose to his knees.

 

DoraKnight charged towards Jason. The ranger moved down low, swiping his sword towards the creature’s midsection. His blade passed through the monster. DoraKnight turned and slammed its shield against Jason, knocking him backward.

 

Zack had the same problem with the DoraGladiator. He snapped a jump kick that phased through the monster. The creature struck back with six punches that slammed against the ranger’s chest.

 

Tommy’s roundhouse kick phased through DoraLizator, along with his sidekick and punch combo. “This is getting us nowhere…” The lizard whipped its tail across Tommy’s body, knocking him backward.

 

Jason tried to parry a blow from DoraTitan, but the monster grabbed him by the wrist and tossed him over a cliff. Jason went tumbling down a bottomless chasm, his rope snapping, and pulling Zack down too. Tommy was knocked off his feet and pulled along, but he skid to a halt at the edge of the chasm.

 

His chest against the ground, Tommy leaned over the cliff and tried to hold onto the rope. The rope slid down his hand, burning his skin and causing his hands to bleed. He ignored the pain and tightened his grip to keep his friends from falling. “Guys!”

 

“Tommy!” they called from below.

 

The monster spirits kicked Tommy while he was helpless. The spirits took pleasure in every kick, enjoying the chance to play with their prey before the kill. Tommy clenched his jaw as the creatures kept kicking. He could not let go of the rope. He would not let his friends die.

 

A monster spirit pulled its leg back to kick him. Tommy rolled onto his back and used his legs to grab onto the monster’s kick and toss the spirit over the cliff. The monster spirit toppled most of the other creatures, and they went spilling over the chasm. He spun back around, repeating the trick with the remaining monster spirits.

 

***

 

Jason, Zack and Tommy regrouped at the top of the cliff. Tommy was wrapping a torn piece of his shirt around his blood-soaked hands.

 

Zack shook his head. “Well that was fun.”

 

“Let’s get going,” Jason said as he retrieved his sword. They spotted a slit in the wall with pale light spilling through. The slit was barely large enough for the rangers to move through. They squeezed sideways into the opening and moved along.

 

They entered a wide hallway of stone brick with torches blazing against the walls. A demonic symbol was etched on the floor nearby. Seven spheres of energy were suspended above the symbol. Energy ricocheted within each sphere, as if the energy was trying to escape.

 

“There.” Jason pointed his sword towards the spheres. Their zords were trapped inside.

 

Explosions suddenly sparked around the three rangers as they rolled for cover. They rolled to their knees as DoraBlade appeared, his boomerang-shaped sword held in an attack position. The creature charged forward and swung its blade at the rangers.

 

Tommy rolled to the side to avoid the blade, and he stayed low while slammed his heel against the monster’s midsection. The villain stumbled backward as Jason slashed his sword upward across the villain’s armor with a burst of spark.

 

Jason started to rush past the monster to free the zords, but the creature grabbed him by the shoulders and tossed him backward. Jason slammed against a wall and slid to the ground.

 

Tommy and Zack moved in from opposite sides of the creature, snapping round kicks that slammed against the monster’s face.

 

Jason used his sword to steady himself and rise to his feet. There was no way he was letting things end. He held his sword forward and charged while shouting a war cry. The monster stepped back into a defensive stance. Instead of attacking, Jason leapt over the monster, pushed off the creature’s shoulders, and flipped towards the spheres.

 

He swung his sword down and shattered through a sphere. A blinding light burst from the sphere and immersed the cave with a white glow that swept the rangers off their feet while disintegrating the monster.

 

***

 

The three rangers landed on top of a skyscraper in Angel Grove. They pulled themselves back to their feet as the other three rangers arrived.

 

Trini moved towards Jason. “Did you do it?”

 

Jason took a deep breath and nodded. He was still trying to process what had happened. “Yeah…” he said.

 

The ground started to shake as Cyclopsis stomped towards them. The zord brought down its blade and chopped off the top half of the skyscraper. The rangers rolled backward to avoid the attack and rose back to their feet.

 

“It’s time to finish this once and for all!” Jason shouted.

 

The rangers extended their morphers. “Dino Buckler!”

 

Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. They snapped into fighting stances.

 

Tyranno Ranger, Red!”

 

“Mammoth Ranger, Black!”

 

Tricera Ranger, Blue!”

 

“Tiger Ranger, Yellow!”

 

Ptera Ranger, Pink!”

 

“Dragon Ranger, Green!”

 

Together, the six Rangers shouted: “Battle Task Force! Power Rangers!”

 

Bandora wrinkled her brow as she watched the Rangers. How had they saved the zords? She tightened her grip on her staff. It didn’t matter. Cyclopsis would crush them.

 

The Rangers raised their hands into the sky. “Dinozords, arise!”

 

The five armored beasts stomped through the city streets and charged towards their opponent, eager for a rematch. The Rangers leapt into their zords’ cockpits.

 

The Ptera zord swooped down and fired energy beams that exploded against the war zord’s chest. Tricera zord moved in low and fired horn missiles that exploded against the war zord, knocking it backward.

 

Cyclopsis opened its chest missile launchers. The war zord fired a volley of missiles that exploded against the Tyrannosaurus, knocking the red-armored zord back before it could attack.

 

Dragonzord!” Dragon Ranger’s battle melody echoed across the rooftops. The Dragonzord rose from the sea and stomped towards Cyclopsis.

 

Cyclopsis extended its hands and grabbed Dragonzord in a grip of telekinetic energy. Cyclopsis lifted the Dragonzord and swung the beast towards Tyranno. Dragonzord crashed against the Tyrannosaurus as Cyclopsis released its grip. The two zords went skidding across the streets.

 

Dragonzord fusion!” Tyranno Ranger commanded. The Dragonzord, Triceratops, Mammoth, and Tiger combined to form the MegaDragonzord.

 

The zord thrust its spear forward. The weapon crashed against Cyclopsis and knocked it backward. Cyclopsis armed his forearm blades and swung outward. The sabers cut across the zord’s armor, knocking MegaDragonzord backward.

 

Tyranno moved in and whipped its tail against Cyclopsis. The tail crashed against the war zord with a volley of sparks.

 

“Changing formation,” Tyranno Ranger said. Dinozord fusion!”

 

MegaDragonzord split back into separate beasts. The main five zords combined to form the Megadinozord.

 

Cyclopsis swung its blades towards the Megazord.

 

Megadinozord Saber!” Tyranno Ranger commanded. The Megazord armed its sword and swung upward, severing the blades from the war zord’s wrists. “Battle Crash!”

 

The blade energized with crimson power and slashed across Cyclops with a massive burst of sparks and explosions. The blow pushed Cyclopsis backward.

 

Titanus!” Tyranno Ranger shouted. The carrier zord rolled out. Ultrazord fusion!”

 

Dragonzord separated and wrapped around the top of the Megazord. The Megazord landed on Titanus, all the zords combining to form the Ultradinozord.

 

“Grand Fire!” the Rangers shouted. The Ultrazord fired a massive wave of energy darts and energy lances that poured forward, blasting through Cyclopsis. The war zord’s armor was stripped away as explosions tore through its body. The zord’s energy overloaded and exploded with a massive burst of flame.

 

“Yeah!” the Rangers shouted. They leapt from the Ultrazord and joined Dragon Ranger on the rooftop.

 

***

 

Bandora stood on her balcony. Her body trembled with rage. She heard something fall in the palace chambers behind her.

 

She turned to see Kai crawling forward, blood dripping from his head. The boy was injured from piloting Cyclopsis during the explosion. He had barely made it out of the war zord’s cockpit. He reached out his hand to Bandora, tears streaming down his cheek. “Momma…help me…”

 

Bandora fell, her body nearly crippled with sorrow as she crawled towards Kai. “Kai…” she whispered. She reached out and took hold of his hand. Kai smiled and squeezed his mother’s hand before his body went limp. His eyes shut for the last time. “Kai!” Bandora shrieked. “No!!”

 

The skies turned even darker. Bandora wailed with rage. Crimson energy slammed against the palace, attracted to Bandora’s power. She looked towards the city and narrowed her eyes. She stood tall and walked to her balcony.

 

Bandora extended her hand and shouted an incantation, her words echoing across the rooftops.

 

Countless rock soldiers fell from the skies and spread throughout the city. Each soldier was fueled with Bandora’s rage.

 

“It’s not over yet,” Tyranno Ranger shouted as he watched the wave of soldiers spread out across the city.

 

The six Rangers leapt to the streets below. The ground suddenly shook as a blinding bolt of crimson energy struck an outcropping near the middle of Bandora’s palace. DaiSatan had assumed humanoid form.

 

DaiSatan’s skin was pale blue, with black trimming along the lines of his muscles. Black war paint covered his face and bald head. Nine rows of spikes ran from his forehead, along the back of his head, and down to his side. His eyes were solid red. A ragged vest covered his body, and ragged cloth covered his waist.

 

Dragon Ranger narrowed his eyes beneath his helmet. “DaiSatan….” The Green Ranger knew his powers could fail him at any moment. But he had to finish this battle. For Shannon. For redemption.

 

Dragon Ranger ducked into an alley as the other Rangers slammed against the wave of rock soldiers.

 

“Tommy, wait!” Tyranno Ranger shouted. But there was nothing he could do. The wave of soldiers kept rushing forward faster than the Rangers could knock them down.

 

***

 

Dragon Ranger ran towards the base of the palace with his dagger in hand. A dozen rock soldiers blocked his path. He did not bother slowing down. He spun forward, slamming a spinning heel kick across a soldier while cutting another three down with his blade. He moved past the remaining soldiers and leapt up towards the palace.

 

Dragon Ranger landed on the outcropping in a crouched position, then he sprang towards DaiSatan.

 

DaiSatan extended his hand and fired a red energy pulse that exploded against Dragon Ranger’s chest, knocking him backward. Dragon Ranger rolled back onto his knees and sprang forward, leaping through the air and energizing his dagger while swinging the blade down. “Dragon’s Claw!”

 

A green energy wave tore towards DaiSatan. The villain leapt over the blast, somersaulted forward through the air, and slammed a double kick against Dragon Ranger. Dragon Ranger crashed hard onto his back as DaiSatan landed on his feet.

 

Dragon Ranger flipped onto his feet and thrust his hands towards DaiSatan. “Dragon’s Fang!” He fired a sphere of crackling jade energy that DaiSatan dodged with little effort while charging forward towards the Ranger.

 

DaiSatan grabbed Dragon Ranger in a chokehold and slammed kicks against the Green Ranger’s side. DaiSatan swung Dragon Ranger backward and pushed him hard against the palace wall, the impact sending web-shaped cracks along the palace surface.

 

DaiSatan tossed Dragon Ranger aside, and the Ranger went tumbling across the outcropping. Dragon Ranger rose to his feet in time to block a double-jump kick by DaiSatan. The Ranger followed with a round kick towards the head, but DaiSatan blocked that blow and slammed a fist against Dragon Ranger’s chest.

 

They moved back and forth across the outcropping, exchanging a fierce volley of kicks and punches. DaiSatan slammed an uppercut against Dragon Ranger’s gut and slammed an elbow on the back of the Ranger’s neck.

 

Dragon Ranger fell and kicked the legs out from underneath DaiSatan. The opponents rose back to their feet. DaiSatan opened his mouth and spat a volley of fire bursts that exploded against Dragon Ranger with a shower of sparks.

 

Dragon Ranger fell backward as his power started to flux. Strands of energy seemed to unwind around his arms as power started to creep along his armor like lines of static. “Not now…” he cursed.

 

DaiSatan lifted the Ranger by the shoulder and slammed a round kick against his side before smashing a hook kick across the Ranger’s helmet. Dragon Ranger was knocked backward.

 

Dragon Ranger keeled over with pain as his armor peeled away, jade energy flashing across his body. Tommy rolled over limp as his armor and powers vanished. Only his dagger and morpher remained.

 

DaiSatan kicked the ranger while he was down. Tommy went flailing off the  outcropping and crashed back-first on a lower extension below.

 

DaiSatan leapt down towards the ranger. The villain aimed his knee towards Tommy’s chest. Tommy barely rolled out of the way in time. The villain’s knee blow smashed against the outcropping, smashing part of the rock and kicking up debris.

 

Tommy rose to his feet and moved forward. DaiSatan blocked the ranger’s high roundkick, low roundkick, and punch combination. Tommy swung a spinning heel kick that DaiSatan ducked under. The villain laughed at his seemingly helpless opponent.

 

DaiSatan slammed a palm-heel strike against Tommy’s chest. The ranger’s ribs cracked as he stumbled backward.

 

Tommy rose to his knees as DaiSatan kicked him upside the head. Tommy’s body flipped backward and crashed back on the outcropping.

 

Tommy coughed, hacking up blood as he rolled onto his stomach. His ribs were broken. His muscles ached. He was pretty sure he had a concussion. He rolled his hands into fists. He could not let himself die, not when he was so close. His friends were counting on him. The world had suffered enough because of the creature standing before him. He had suffered enough.

 

By sheer force of will, Tommy struggled to his feet. He would not be beaten. He glared at DaiSatan and rolled his hands into fists. “I won’t let you win…”

 

Tommy closed his eyes and tried to draw on the last of his strength. His body started to glow with a red aura. Lines of red energy started to circle around him. Tommy felt power rush through his veins, revitalizing him, making him stronger than even his Power Coin had.

 

Bandora watched from her balcony. She wrinkled her brow. “He can’t be…”

 

Tommy snapped open his eyes. He charged forward and slammed a jump sidekick against DaiSatan’s chest. The villain was pushed back, surprised at the sudden show of power. The villain managed to block Tommy’s first two punches. But the ranger’s third punch connected beneath the villain’s ribs, and Tommy swung a hook punch that smashed across the villain’s head.

 

Tommy slammed a reverse hook kick across the villain’s head and followed with a reverse sidekick that smashed the villain backward.

 

Tommy’s veins felt ignited with power. He glared at the villain. Tommy felt like his blood was about to boil. He extended his hands while shouting: “Fire Stream!”

 

A torrent of fiery energy lashed out from between Tommy’s hands and washed across DaiSatan. The villain’s skin cracked and peeled away second before the evil spirit’s energy ignited and exploded.

 

Tommy lowered his arms and glared up at Bandora’s balcony. “Bandora…”

 

***

 

Tommy ran through the corridors of Bandora’s palace. He slammed a flying sidekick against a door, shattering it, as he leapt into Bandora’s main chamber. Bandora turned away from her balcony and wrinkled her brow at the ranger.

 

“I made you what you are today…and you kill my son.” Bandora said, her voice ice cold.

 

“Don’t even get me started on the pain you’ve caused us!” Tommy shouted as he charged towards her. He swung a roundhouse kick towards her head, but she blocked the blow with her staff. Tommy brought his leg around with a reverse hook kick, but Bandora blocked with her staff.

 

The witch extended her hand and fired tendrils of purple-tinted energy. The tendrils wrapped around Tommy and flashed with energy as they pushed the ranger backward and slammed him against a wall. She clenched her jaw as she poured energy onto him.

 

Tommy bit back the pain, refusing to give Bandora the satisfaction of hearing him scream.

 

Bandora lowered her hand, and Tommy collapsed to the ground.

 

“You sicken me,” she said as she slowly walked towards him.

 

Tommy sprang forward without warning. “Burn Knuckle!” he shouted, his fist radiating with fiery energy as he slammed a punch that pushed the witch backward.

 

Bandora extended her hand and fired bursts of purple-tinted shadow power. Tommy rolled towards Bandora to dodge the blasts, and he rolled to his knees while spinning forward and slamming his dagger through her chest.

 

Tommy pulled his blade free, and Bandora fell to the ground. With Bandora and DaiSatan’s death, the palace started to shake and crumble.

 

***

 

The rock soldiers turned to dust around the Rangers. They looked to the palace to see the entire structure fall. The once-great palace turned to ash that vanished in the wind.

 

“Oh no…” Ptera Ranger said as the ash started to spread across the streets. She fell to her knees as her armor powered down. “Tommy…”

 

The ash came their way and started to spread. The Rangers saw someone walk through the dust towards them. Tommy stepped forward from the cloud of ash.

 

“Tommy!” Kimberly shouted as she rushed towards him and wrapped her arms around him.

 

He returned her hug. “It’s finally over…”

 

The other rangers walked towards him.

 

“You look like hell,” Jason said.

 

“Thanks,” Tommy said. They clasped hands and pulled each other into a hug.

 

The Dinozords above roared and looked down at the rangers. The five Power Coins suddenly flashed with energy and streaked towards the sky. The zords turned away and started to charge towards the distance, their bodies turning to energy as they streaked towards the heavens.

 

“They’re gone,” Kimberly said.

 

“Something tells me we won’t be needing them anymore,” Billy said.

 

Tommy checked his pocket. His powerless coin and dagger remained.

 

***

 

“Congratulations, Rangers,” Zordon said. “Bandora and DaiSatan’s forces are gone forever.”

 

Billy looked up to Zordon. “Where did our zords go?”

 

“They have rejoined with the One Power that birthed them,” Zordon said. “I am very proud of you all. However, I regret to inform you that Alpha and I must leave your planet immediately.”

 

The rangers were taken aback by the abruptness of Zordon’s announcement.

 

“Why?” Kimberly asked.

 

“I must return to my home planet. There is information there I must seek. But do not worry…our paths will cross again. Farewell Rangers…” Zordon said as he slowly vanished from sight.

 

“Good-bye my friends,” Alpha vanished in a wave of teleportation energy.

 

The teens stood silently. The reality of the moment would not likely sink in for a long time.

 

***

 

The teens sat by Bear Lake. The city was starting to heal. DaiSatan’s plague had died along with the evil spirit. Things were starting to return to normal in Angel Grove as the rangers tried to find themselves again.

 

“So what are we going to do with all our spare time?” Zack asked.

 

“It’ll be weird,” Jason said.

 

“Guys…we’re not going to see each other as much, you know. We all go to different schools,” Kimberly said. “I’m going to miss you.”

 

“There’s always the weekends,” Jason said.

 

“Yeah,” Zack said. “You guys are the only real friends I’ve ever had.”

 

“Umm…” Kimberly said as she lifted her guitar from a nearby tree. “I wrote a song…for all of us. Zack helped.”

 

She started to sing.

 

"Down the road, we never know

what life may have in store.

Winds of change will rearrange

our lives more than before.”

 

Tommy smiled. He found her voice captivating. The sound made them all forget their scars.

 

Zack joined in, and the two harmonized.

 

But you'll never stand alone, my friend.

Memories never die.

Within our hearts, they'll always live

and never say goodbye.

and never say goodbye."

 

***

 

Far behind them, the Dark Man watched and smiled. “Enjoy your peace while you can... Things are only going to get harder.”

 

THE END

 

The saga continues in Book Two: The Black Sun