Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Four
Kimberly launched a series of back flips across a balance beam. It was her first gymnastics practice since the Gorma surfaced, because she had little time for the sport with the Gorma constantly threatening the city.
Kimberly finished her last flip and landed on the floor mat. Coach Nern slammed a clipboard against the gym floor. “That’s it Kimberly, you’re off the team.”
“What?!” Kimberly said. Her coach had never liked her. Some of the other girls on the team snickered, except for one: Monica Gray, a timid, raven-haired girl with green eyes and freckles.
The coach narrowed her eyes at Kimberly, pointing a whistle to enunciate her every word. “You barely show up for practice, and when you do, you give a performance like that. You’re out.”
Kimberly walked down the steps of her high school with her head hung low. Gymnastics was one of the few things that gave her life a sense of normality, even before she became a Ranger and battled against Bandora.
“Hey, Kimberly,” a voice called from behind her. Kimberly turned to see Monica walk towards her. “I think that was really unfair.”
Kimberly shrugged, swaying back and forth on her heels uncomfortably. “There’s not a whole lot I can do…”
“Anyway,” Monica said as she reached into her book bag. She pulled out a small box and handed it to Kimberly. “I remembered it’s your birthday coming up. I got this for you…”
Kimberly was nearly knocked off her feet from her own guilt. “Monica, you didn’t have to…”
“I know,” Monica said. “I wanted to.”
Kimberly opened the box. A small golden bird-shaped hair piece was inside. “Wow…” Kimberly said as she ran her fingers along its edges. “It’s beautiful. Why did you get this for me?”
“For old times sake I guess….“ Monica said. “Well…I have to get to get going. Don’t be a stranger.”
Monica walked off. Kimberly looked at the hair clip and held her head down low. Someone walked up from behind her. It was Tommy.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m a little happier when someone gives me a present,” Tommy said as he wrapped his hands around her waist and pulled her into a hug.
She hugged him back and breathed a deep sigh.
“Was that a friend of yours?” Tommy asked.
“She used to be,” Kimberly said as she and Tommy pulled away. “We’ve grown apart since we started high school.”
“Kim, what’s wrong?” Tommy asked. He knew her well enough to know when she was upset. Sometimes, she would keep things to herself because she didn’t want to bother Tommy with her own problems.
Kimberly shook her head. “I got kicked off the team.”
“What? That’s crazy,” Tommy said. He wrinkled his brow and looked back towards the school. “Where’s your coach? I have a few words for her…”
Before Kimberly could say anything, she and Tommy heard a girl scream from nearby. A group of students fled from around a nearby corner while looking over their shoulders. Tommy and Kimberly ran against the crowd to their next challenge.
Nearby at Lake Side Park, a female Gorma in monster form stalked towards Monica. The girl was too scared to run. The Gorma’s monster form was covered with twisting plates of purple and black armor that wrapped around her slender body. Her bald head and face were pale white and featureless, except for a single eye and small round mouth.
The monster’s name was Kuchibeni Utahime, the Lipstick Songstress. The media would later call her Museek.
“How pretty,” the Gorma said as she moved closer to her victim. “You will serve my purposes well…”
Monica screamed and darted away. She turned a corner, but the Gorma had reappeared in front of her. Museek grabbed Monica by the throat with one hand. The Gorma waved her free hand across Monica’s face.
Tommy and Kimberly ran to the park just as Monica’s body went limp. “Gorma!” Tommy shouted as the two rangers ran towards Museek.
The Gorma lowered Monica to the ground. The girl faded from sight, disappearing with a wave of purple light. Museek rose to her full height and narrowed her eye at the approaching rangers.
“Monica!” Kimberly shouted when her friend had vanished.
The Gorma extended her hand. “Kyonshi!” a group of the black soldiers appeared nearby a gazebo in the park. Some of the soldiers aimed short staffs at the rangers. The staffs fired pulses of energy that exploded around the two teens as they dove aside.
Tommy quickly rolled to his feet and readied his morphers. He sprang through the air towards the soldiers and connected his braces. “Chakra ignite!” Red energy flashed around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.
Dragon Ranger twirled his staff while arcing down from the air. He slammed the staff on a soldier’s chest while landing. Dragon Ranger spun forward, crashing the end of his staff across a soldier’s head. That grunt collapsed to the ground. Dragon Ranger twirled his staff up high before chopping the weapon down and crushing the fallen soldier’s chest.
Two soldiers closed in on either side of Dragon Ranger. Red Ranger speared the soldier to his right in the face and speared the soldier to his left in the gut.
Kimberly readied her Aura Morphers. She started to leap from the ground to morph, but a Kyonshi pulled her leg and slammed her to the ground. A group of grunts pounced on top of her.
“Kimberly!” Dragon Ranger shouted. He bashed a soldier out of his way with his staff. Red Ranger extended his hand towards the Kyonshi as the dragon eyes on his helmet pulsed. “Fire Stream!”
A stream of fire burst from his hand and blasted the soldiers off Kimberly. Dragon Ranger ran to her side and helped Kimberly to her feet. “Kimberly…are you alright?”
Kimberly nodded. “Yeah.”
Museek pounced towards them and swung a jagged blade downward with a powerful chop. Dragon Ranger stood in front of Kimberly to protect her. The Gorma’s blade slashed across the Ranger’s armor and sparked on impact.
Museek dashed forward, moving past the Ranger while slashing him with another swipe from her sword. The Gorma snapped back around to face Dragon Ranger while swinging her blade down towards him. Explosions sparked across Dragon Ranger’s armor as the Gorma’s blade chopped down in an x-shaped pattern.
Museek pressed forward as her blade energized with amethyst energy. “Sonic Slash!” the blade swiped across the Ranger’s chest with a streak of energy, causing a massive explosion of sparks as the Ranger fell backward. A scorching scar mark ran diagonally across his chest.
“Tommy!” Kimberly shouted as she ran to his side.
Engines roared nearby. The other three Rangers arrived at the scene on their Thunder Cycles. Kirin Ranger popped a wheel and crashed the Gorma aside. The Rangers dismounted and regrouped while Dragon Ranger placed a hand on his still-stinging injury.
Kimberly rose to her feet and readied her morphers. “Aura Power!” she shouted as she connected the braces. Pink energy flashed around her as she morphed into her Ranger form.
Tenma Ranger pointed at Museek. “Gorma! You think you’re tough enough to take on one of us, try taking us all on!”
The Gorma laughed. “Oh, please,” she said with disbelief. “Sonic Destroyer!”
A wave of violet-tinted jagged energy shot from her mouth. The energy blast exploded across the five Rangers with a shower of sparks that ripped across their armor. Dragon, Tenma, Lion, and Kirin Rangers were thrown backwards and splintered through a bench while crashing to the ground.
Tenma Ranger groaned as he rose to his feet. “Me and my big mouth…”
Phoenix Ranger rose to her feet and twirled her Thunder Staff into a fighting position. “Give me back my friend!” she shouted as she charge forward to attack the villain.
“Kimberly wait!” Dragon Ranger shouted.
Phoenix Ranger leapt forward through the air to attack. But Museek fired another jagged wave of sonic energy that exploded against the Pink Ranger’s chest. Phoenix Ranger was knocked from the air, but her staff shot forward from her hand.
The staff slashed across the side of the Gorma’s face.
Phoenix Ranger rolled across the ground before rising to her knees. The Rangers regrouped around her as Dragon Ranger helped her to her feet.
Tenma Ranger shook his head. “Kimberly, you shouldn’t have attacked on your own. That Gorma is suffering from a major PMS attack or something.”
The Gorma shrieked as she felt the mark along the side of her face. The mark Pink Ranger’s staff had inflicted. “You ruined my beautiful face!”
Museek pulled an enlarging bomb from behind her back. She ripped off the bomb pin and tossed the sphere to the ground. The bomb exploded with mystical energy that the Gorma monster absorbed and used to grow giant.
Kaku sat in a meditative pose within the Rangers’ lair. His eyes were closed and his breathing was deep and controlled. A television behind him displayed Museek in her giant form.
Master Kaku reached out to the One Power.
Dragon Ranger raised his Thunder Sword into the air. “Thunderzord, arise! Red Dragon!”
The Red Dragon, Ryuseiou, swooped down from the skies. Dragon Ranger used his blaster as an energy grappler and reeled himself onto the top of his zord. He leaned forward as the giant dragon flew towards the villain.
“Do you really think your pet can help you?” Museek said mockingly.
“Red Dragon! Fire Blast!” Dragon Ranger shouted. The dragon opened its jaw, and a large torrent of flame shot forth. The whirling stream of flame exploded against Museek and knocked her backward.
Museek quickly recovered and raised her blade towards the zord. “Sonic Destroyer!” She fired a jagged burst of purple-tinted energy that exploded against Red Dragon’s armor.
Flames erupted around Dragon Ranger. He leapt into the cockpit embedded in his zord’s armor. He placed his hand over the crystal control sphere on his station. The inside of the sphere crackled with energy. “Red Dragon! Rise up!”
Tendrils of crimson energy snapped along the zord’s armor as Red Dragon shifted shape and transformed into a two-legged warrior. The other Rangers joined Dragon Ranger in the cockpit once the transformation was complete.
Before the Rangers could attack, a wave of pain hit Dragon Ranger from his injury. He keeled over against his control console. Red Dragon copied Dragon Ranger’s movements and collapsed onto one knee. The Red Ranger’s pain washed over his zord.
The Gorma laughed mockingly at the zord. “Having trouble standing?” She looked down to the ground. “Now for my surprise…”
Five girls appeared in flashes of purple light on the ground below. One of the girls was Monica. Each girl had a far-off distant gaze on her face. Their lips were pale blue.
“Monica!” Phoenix Ranger shouted.
The girls opened their mouths and emitted an eerie melody. The sound washed across a block radius. The Rangers placed their hands over their helmets and keeled over in pain. The sound caused a wave of nauseating vertigo and near-crippling head pain.
“I’ll take opera over this any day,” Tenma Ranger said through his clenched jaw.
Museek spun forward while slashing her blade across Red Dragon’s armor. The Gorma turned and chopped at the zord with a powerful blow.
On the ground below, the Gorma Triumvirate appeared and looked up at the battle. The sight was invigorating for them. They were winning.
Zydos raised his fists into the air. “Yes, Kuchibeni Utahime!”
Shadam had something else in mind besides cheering. He extended his hand towards the massive zord above. An evil grin spread across Gara’s face as she placed her hand on Shadam’s. Zydos joined them.
The three Gorma fired a volley of energy snakes that slithered through the air and swirled around the Red Dragon. Explosions suddenly ripped across the zord, tearing across Red Dragon’s armor with flames and spark that knocked the zord off its feet.
Beads of sweat dripped down Kaku’s brow as he sat in his meditative pose. An aura of golden energy shimmered around him, but fluctuated at the same time Red Dragon was hit. The sensei narrowed his brow and struggled to hold his concentration.
The lair began to shake. Glasses were knocked off tables and shattered against the ground. Kaku himself was slammed off his small stage with an invisible force of energy.
Museek chopped her blade against Red Dragon’s shoulder, and the zord grabbed hold of the jagged weapon. Below, the five girls continued to sing, making it nearly impossible for the Rangers to fight an effective battle.
Dragon Ranger rolled his hands into fists. Anger ignited in his veins, frustration he had pent up since the Gorma arrived. The Red Ranger had allowed himself to get injured by Museek. Tenma Ranger had saved Kimberly from the red-masked Gorma. Lion Ranger was instrumental in returning the stolen souls. What have I done in the meantime? Dragon Ranger thought. Guilt. Shannon was dead. Doubt. How could he lead. Depression. Bandora had used him. Even after more than a year of being a Ranger, Dragon Ranger let himself beat down his own spirit.
“Enough is enough!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he lunged his hand forward.
Red Dragon copied the Ranger’s movements. The zord grabbed Museek by the neck and lifted her, hurling the Gorma overhead and sending her flailing through the air. Museek crashed against the ground. With the monster’s concentration broken, the girls’ singing stopped.
“Much better,” Dragon Ranger said. Red Dragon leapt through the air and slammed a flying kick against Museek, knocking the Gorma further backward.
“Dragon Staff!” Dragon Ranger commanded. Red Dragon armed its onyx staff and swung the weapon into a fighting position.
Red Dragon twirled the staff like a propeller while gliding towards the Gorma giant. The staff radiated with crimson energy, pulsing with red power. “Whirling Force!” Dragon Ranger shouted.
Red Dragon swung its staff as Museek swung her sword. The two weapons clashed against each other with a massive burst of energy feedback that exploded across Museek and Red Dragon. The opponents held their ground as the energy discharges grew more violent.
Sensei Kaku had moved back to his platform. His meditative stance was even more intense. His body shook. One of the hovering green spheres in the lair exploded. A volley of explosions suddenly sparked across the room and knocked Kaku backward, sending him crashing against a wall.
An explosive charge ignited between Museek and Red Dragon. The red-armored Thunderzord crashed backward and collapsed to the ground. The fall was violent enough to shake the Rangers from the cockpit, causing them to fall to the streets below and demorph.
Museek stumbled backward and collapsed.
Red Dragon fluctuated with energy and transformed back into his serpent-like dragon form. The Thunderzord took off towards the skies in retreat.
“Red Dragon!” Tommy called out.
Museek rose back to her feet, her body still steaming with smoke from the blast. “I’ll get you for this!” she said as she vanished.
The teens returned to the lair to find their Sensei heaped over against a wall. He looked fatigued, and his forehead was dripping with sweat.
“Sensei!” Tommy called as they ran over to Kaku and helped him to his feet. “What happened?”
Kaku leaned down and placed his hand on the small stage to steady himself as he sat. “I can no longer sustain the Red Dragon.
Tommy wrinkled his brow. And the other teens were just as confused.
Kaku looked up at his charges. “I am not strong enough…”
Tommy shook his head. “But I thought…”
“Red Dragon has been answering to my power,” Kaku said. “I called upon him…but now…” he shook his head. The last wave of dizziness had not yet worn off.
“How do we get the Red Dragon back?” Tommy asked.
“First you must find the kidnapped girls,” Kaku said.
Tommy sighed. He missed the days of using the Command Chamber to search Angel Grove and countless pocket dimensions. He looked to his teammates. “Let’s go.”
Kimberly paced alone in a woodland area nearby. She held the golden hairclip Monica had given her in her right hand. The teen’s shoulders were slumped low with guilt. Her mind flashed back…
12-year-old Kimberly had just moved to Angel Grove with her mother. Her mom had gotten another kind of job. Kimberly wasn’t sure exactly what the job was, but of course, her mother was gone all the time while doing it.
It was her first year at Taft Middle School. Kimberly was starting classes in the midst of the school year. She didn’t know anyone and was too shy to start talking to people and introduce herself.
She sat in the lobby after her lunch period. She was on a bench alone. Some of the blonde cheerleaders at her school pointed and laughed at the sight of Kimberly sitting alone.
A boy moved in and sat down besides Kimberly. He gave her a sincere smile. He had sandy blonde hair and bright blue eyes like wet diamonds. His skin looked smooth and tan.
“You’re new here, aren’t you?” he asked.
Kimberly blushed and nodded. “Yeah. We just moved into an apartment complex not too far from here.”
“Cool,” the boy said. “Maybe I could walk you home sometime?”
Kimberly smiled. “I’d like that.”
Kimberly was so lost in the boy’s eyes that she didn’t notice a group of the cheerleading girls walk towards her. One of the girls gave Kimberly a look of disbelief. “Um, Nic, what are you doing with the little Loser-Stank?”
“Relax,” Nic said as he looked to the girls.
They giggled. “Whatever, Nic, come on.”
The girls started to walk away, motioning for Nic to follow them. He did so reluctantly.
The school day just got worse. Some of the cheerleaders thought it would be funny to dump a glass of water onto Kimberly’s pants. She was at her locker in the empty hallway while everyone else was in class.
A girl walked over to Kimberly. It was Monica. “Hey…you’re the new girl right?”
“Why?” Kimberly said bitterly as she shuffled through her locker.
“I’m sorry,” Monica said. “You can’t let those bimbos worry you. Not everyone here is like them. Maybe I could show you around the city sometime? My mom and little sister Rachel would probably have to tag along. But they’re cool.”
Kimberly smiled and tried to keep from crying. “That would be nice.”
Monica and Kimberly became fast friends. Kimberly felt more at home at Monica’s place than she did her own apartment.
A couple years passed, and they started their freshman year at high school. Kimberly had become the rising star of the gymnastics team.
During the first week of school, Nic and the cheerleading girls walked by Kimberly’s locker. Kimberly and Monica were at the locker, talking about their fears of an upcoming pop quiz.
“Hey Kimberly,” Nic said as they stopped around her locker. “I saw you at the gymnastics meet the other day. You looked awesome.”
Kimberly blushed. “Thanks.”
“Yeah,” one of the girls agreed, much to Kimberly’s surprise. “The cheerleading team has an opening. You should totally try out.”
That was how it started. Kimberly tried out for the team and joined. The more active and popular she became, the less she spoke with Monica. She later learned that Monica used to be friends with the cheerleading group but “abandoned” them. The circumstances of the abandonment were unclear.
During an upcoming dance, one of Nic’s friends had asked Monica to be his date. She agreed. She had no way of knowing it was a joke.
Kimberly was in the back seat of an upper classman’s car as they drove past Monica’s house. The closer they got to the house, the more guilty Kimberly felt. She knew she should have done something, but she didn’t.
Monica was on the porch in a beautiful yellow dress, waiting for her date. The car barely slowed to a crawl in front of the home. Monica’s date leaned out the window while the cheerleaders laughed.
“Change of plans,” he said as he readied a pellet of mud on his slingshot. He snapped the mud, and it splattered on Monica’s dress.
The car sped off.
Monica had tried to kill herself that night.
“Ki!” Kimberly shouted as she thrust her hand forward. An invisible pulse of energy pulverized a nearby boulder. Birds flapped from the trees, fleeing from the sound. A tear streamed down Kimberly’s cheek. She turned to another rock and thrust her hand forward. “Ki!”
Tommy stepped out from the trees and placed his hands on hers to stop her. “Kim…don’t do this to yourself.”
Kimberly sighed with frustration and sat on a boulder. “Tommy, why did I let this happen?”
Tommy sat down besides her and put his hand over hers, gently rubbing the top of her hand with his thumb. “Why are you taking this so hard?”
Kimberly shook her head, her gaze distant. “She was my best friend…but then we…kind of drifted apart…”
“It happens,” Tommy said.
Kimberly shook her head. “No…I made it happen. Once we got into high school…I fell in with the wrong crowd. Ever since then…” she shook her head.
A bright light suddenly flashed across Kimberly’s mind’s eye. Five dots of light circled around a golden star, glowing intensely. The points of light shot downward in multi-colored orbs.
One of the orbs transformed into the silhouette of a shining Phoenix that flew across the desert landscape in China.
“Kim…” Tommy said as he tried to shake her from her trance. “Kim? What happened?”
Kimberly snapped back into reality. She shook her head, the images of the vision still fresh in her mind. “I’m not sure.”
Museek stood on top of a city skyscraper. A Kyonshi held a mirror in front of the Gorma monster so she could inspect the injury along the side of her face. The villain shook with fury. Museek slammed the back of her hand across the Kyonshi, knocking the soldier aside as the mirror fell and shattered.
Gara blinked into appearance and stepped towards Museek. “You’re stalling,” she said. “It’s time to attack again before our enemies recover.”
Museek narrowed her eye and looked down upon the city. “I will attack again, Gara…and I will have the one known as Kimberly’s head.”
Kimberly entered the lair to speak with Kaku while the other rangers patrolled the city streets. Sensei sat on his low platform while drinking a glass of green tea. “What troubles you, Kimberly?”
Kimberly shook her head, not quite sure where to start. “I saw something a while ago. In my head. I think I’m going crazy.”
“What was it?” Kaku asked.
Kimberly sighed. “There was this flash of light, and then five gems or something shot down from the stars. Then there was this giant bird.”
Kaku’s eyes opened wide, not only at the vision, but the fact that the rangers’ powers were maturing so quickly. “You saw the Heaven-Star Thunder Gems.”
Kimberly raised an eyebrow. “The what?”
“The Heaven-Star Thunder Gems,” Kaku explained. “The heart of the Kidenjuu’s power. The Gems appeared to the original Dairanger team 6,000 years ago. They are what allowed the bond between the mystical creatures and the Dairanger.
“All of the Kidenjuu except for Red Dragon have been lost since the end of the 500 Year War between the Gorma and Dai. I managed to save Red Dragon and have been sustaining him with my own power since.”
“So…what does the vision mean?” Kimberly asked.
“I am not sure…“ Kaku answered, “but if the gems are found, they will allow you and the others to call on the rest of the Thunderzords, and Tommy to properly bond with his zord, increasing Red Dragon’s power tremendously.”
Kaku’s communication console blinked. He activated the console, and Tommy’s voice came through. “We’re getting clobbered. There are about a gazillion Kyonshi out here, plus that Museek…thing.”
Kimberly ran to help her friends.
The Rangers fought on a two-level walkway along the bay shore. Dragon Ranger and Museek traded blows on the top level, while the other three Rangers battled Kyonshi below.
Dragon Ranger swung a backfist towards Museek’s head, but the Gorma blocked the blow. Museek knocked Dragon Ranger’s arm away and hook punched the Ranger across the helmet.
Museek slammed a kick against Dragon Ranger’s side and chopped a knifehand blow against the back of the Ranger’s neck. Dragon Ranger went toppling over the ledge and crashed to the walkway below.
Red Ranger rose to his knees as two soldiers armed with sabers charged towards him. Dragon Ranger grabbed a soldier’s wrist and flipped the grunt over while rising to full height and snapping a hook kick across the second soldier‘s head.
Lion Ranger swung his Lion Staff in a wide arc, knocking three Kyonshi aside.
Kirin Ranger hurled his roped Kirin Blade into a soldier’s chest. He pulled that soldier off its feet, and the grunt collapsed to the ground. Kirin Ranger dropped an elbow against the fallen soldier’s chest to finish the Kyonshi off.
Tenma Ranger tornado kicked a soldier and bashed a nunchuk across the grunt’s head
Museek laughed at the Rangers gathered below. “And now you die…”
She sang a hypnotic and eerie melody that struck the Rangers with a wave of vertigo. The Rangers dropped their weapons and grasped the sides of their helmets as they struggled to keep their balance.
A wave of Kyonshi rushed past them, spinning while slashing their sabers across the four Rangers’ armor. Explosions sparked and ripped across their armor as they fell backward. Lion Ranger crashed onto his back. A soldier landed on top of the Green Ranger and pressed a staff down against his neck.
A soldier wrapped its arms around Dragon Ranger from behind. A second grunt used a saber to slash across the Red Ranger’s armor.
“Guys!” Kimberly shouted as she ran to the scene.
Museek glared down at Kimberly. The Gorma ran a finger along the scar on her face and hissed beneath her breath. “Kimberly…”
The Gorma monster leapt from the upper walkway and landed in front of Kimberly. The villain readied her sword. “This is between you and me, wench.”
Kimberly leapt forward through the air while arming her morphing braces. She kicked off Museek’s back while passing over the monster. Kimberly kicked a soldier in the chest as she landed.
“Chakra ignite!” she shouted as she connected her bracers. Pink energy surrounded her with a bright glow as she morphed into her Ranger form.
Phoenix Ranger leapt through the air and swung her Thunder Sword down towards Museek. Museek used her jagged blade to block the blow and swipe the Pink Ranger from the air. Phoenix Ranger crashed against the ground.
Museek stalked towards the fallen Pink Ranger. The monster aimed her blade at Phoenix Ranger while preparing to deliver a final blow.
The Gorma Triumvirate blinked into focus as they arrived at the scene to watch the Rangers’ demise.
Phoenix Ranger used her hands to steady herself and rise to her knees. Blinding light flashed before her mind’s eye again as the vision appeared. Through her mind, she saw the five swirling gems and the giant Phoenix.
Phoenix Ranger started to glow with a deep golden hue as the Gorma Triumvirate watched, their brows wrinkled with concern.
Then Phoenix Ranger vanished.
“What?!” Museek shrieked.
Shadam narrowed his brow. “It can’t be.”
The Gorma Triumvirate stepped backward and blinked away. Museek and the Kyonshi teleported too, following their leaders.
Dragon Ranger and the others ran to where Phoenix Ranger had disappeared from. “Kim!”
Kimberly stood alone in an isolated desert. The desert looked just like the one in her vision. She activated her communicator but heard nothing except static. “Tommy…Billy…Rocky…Adam…”
She shook her head and sighed as she lowered her communicator. It was no use.
The vision overwhelmed her again. This time, she saw the silhouette of five mighty beasts. Two of the beasts were Ryuseiou and the Phoenix. A powerful armored lion, and what looked like a Pegasus and griffin, stampeded beneath the flying dragon and Phoenix.
The Gorma Triumvirate and Museek blinked to an area nearby Kimberly. They were all in China. Shadam recognized the area well, despite the changes it had sustained over the centuries.
Shadam narrowed his eyes. “This is where Dairanger first received their Thunder Gems.” He turned to Museek. “Find Kimberly. Stop her.”
Museek nodded and blinked away.
The other four teens drove across China’s barren terrain on their Thunder Cycles, having teleported there more than an hour earlier.
“Why China?” Rocky asked.
Tommy shook his head. His eyes were fixed ahead. “I don’t know.”
A group of Kyonshi suddenly dropped from the air. Tommy swerved to the side while slamming a kick against a grunt.
Rocky spun his cycle around, kicking up dust as the soldiers tried to surround him. He pulled the handles back, throttling forward and lifting his wheel. The wheel crashed against a soldier, knocking the grunt backward.
A wall of Kyonshi cut across Kimberly’s path. Half the soldiers were armed with staffs. The other half were armed with fencing-type sabers. Kimberly snapped into a fighting stance as Museek stepped forward from the group of soldiers.
The Gorma pointed her jagged blade at the ranger. “You will pay for what you did to me.”
Kimberly narrowed her eyes. “Get over it.”
Museek shrieked with rage as she and the Kyonshi charged forward to attack. The Gorma warrior held her jagged blade high above her head.
Kimberly readied her morphers. “Chakra ignite!” she shouted as she connected her bracers. Pink energy flowed around her body as she transformed into her Ranger form.
Phoenix Ranger used her hand to knock away three violent swipes from Museek. Phoenix Ranger used both hands to grab the flat of the Gorma’s blade. Phoenix Ranger twisted the sword aside and slammed a knifehand blow against the Gorma’s neck. Phoenix Ranger sidekicked the Gorma in the face.
Kyonshi rushed at Phoenix Ranger from behind.
The Pink Ranger ducked beneath a soldier’s blow and slammed an elbow against a second soldier’s body, crushing the grunt’s chest.
Two more soldiers charged towards Phoenix Ranger. She snapped an outer crescent kick that smashed the two grunts backward.
Phoenix Ranger flipped backward while kicking a soldier upside the head. She spun forward upon landing and slammed a knifehand across the soldier’s face.
Museek watched Phoenix Ranger bash her way through the Kyonshi. The Gorma tightened her grip on her blade as her body shook with anger. The Pink Ranger had to die.
Museek charged forward, hacking through her own troops to get closer to Phoenix Ranger as quickly as possible. The villain swung her blade towards Phoenix Ranger’s neck. Phoenix Ranger ducked out of the way, and Museek’s blade hacked through a nearby Kyonshi on accident.
Phoenix Ranger snapped a jumpkick that slammed against the Gorma. Museek swung her blade horizontally, but Phoenix Ranger ducked underneath the blow, slamming a roundkick against the Gorma’s side while rising back up from the duck.
Museek stood her ground. “Sonic Destroyer!” The Gorma fired a jagged blade of violet energy that exploded against Phoenix Ranger’s chest with a shower of sparks, knocking her backward.
Phoenix Ranger tumbled across the ground, her armor forcibly powering down. Kimberly slowly rose to her feet as Museek and Kyonshi stalked towards her.
Museek snapped her fingers, summoning the five girls with a flash of light. The girls appeared on the other side of Kimberly. Kimberly turned to face them. “Monica…please don’t.”
The five girls began singing. The sound washed over Kimberly, bringing her down to her knees. “Please stop…” she begged, much to Museek’s enjoyment.
Kimberly shook her head. She gained enough strength to leap over Museek and the Kyonshi, and she scurried down the side of a mountain.
“After her!” Museek shouted as the Kyonshi began to pursue.
Tommy knocked down the last of the Kyonshi. The rangers breathed a sigh of relief as they hopped back onto their Thunder Cycles.
“We must be close,” Tommy said.
“What gave you that idea,” Rocky said sarcastically.
Kimberly moved towards the base of a mountain and noticed a tall, ancient relic that used to be a statue of some kind. Her eyes opened wide as she recognized the statue. It was the entrance to the Dai Temple Kaku had shown them on the Astral Plane.
Then suddenly, from the heavens, five multi-colored streaks of light shot down and streaked into a narrow opening in the mountain wall. Kimberly hurried past the statue and entered the opening.
Kimberly moved through the narrow passage of rock and entered a giant dimly-lit cavern. The giant dragon Ryuseiou was lying on the ground, breathing deeply as he healed his wounds.
“Red Dragon,” she whispered as she approached the fallen dragon. She was not even sure if the zord could understand her. “Where are the gems?”
Red Dragon slowly lifted his head and looked to the opposite side of the cavern wall. The five Thunder Gems were embedded in the stone. They were well beyond her reach.
Outside, Museek had grown giant. The Gorma launched jagged beams of energy that tore through the mountains. She was determined to smoke Phoenix Ranger out of hiding.
Red Dragon burst from the mountains and roared. Kimberly was riding on top of the Dragon’s head in a crouched position. The dragon had saved her from getting crushed by a cave in.
“You!” Museek shrieked as she saw Kimberly on top of the dragon. “Sonic Destroyer!”
The Gorma fired a jagged burst of purple energy that exploded against Ryuseiou and knocked the dragon backward. The blast knocked Kimberly from the zord, and she went tumbling across the ground.
The other teens finally arrived on the scene and hopped off their Thunder Cycles as they ran to Kimberly’s side.
“Kim!” Tommy shouted as he helped her to her feet. The two hugged.
“This is sweet and all, guys,” Rocky said, “but can we kill the big scary monster first?”
The teens armed their wrist morphers. “Chakra ignite! Aura Power!” Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.
“Tommy,” Phoenix Ranger said as she placed a hand on his shoulder. “The Heaven-Star Thunder Gems are in that cave.”
Dragon Ranger nodded, looking up at the giant Gorma monster. “You guys go get the gems. Red Dragon and I will handle this lip singer.”
Dragon Ranger ran towards the fallen Red Dragon. The Red Ranger entered his zord’s cockpit and placed his hand on the control crystal in front of him. “Red Dragon, rise up!”
Tendrils of energy snapped around the dragon as his body started to reconfigure. Red Dragon transformed into a giant warrior and snapped into a fighting stance as Museek charged forward.
On the ground below, Monica and the four other enslaved girls sang their song. The four Rangers keeled over in pain as a wave of vertigo nearly caused them to black out. A group of armed Kyonshi charged forward to attack.
The grunts spun through the Rangers’ formation while hacking across their armor, blades sparking on impact.
Above, the giant Museek energized her saber. She swung the blade upward in an x-shaped pattern that exploded across Red Dragon’s armor. The zord stumbled backward, but Museek pressed on her attack.
The Gorma slashed her blade across Red Dragon with a powerful horizontal swing. Explosions tore across Red Dragon’s armor as the zord tumbled backward, crashing against the ground.
Below, Phoenix Ranger was on her knees as the five girls stalked towards her. Their voices intensified, shaking the mountains themselves. Kyonshi were slashing the other three Rangers nearby.
Phoenix Ranger used what energy she could to spring off her feet and leap towards the mountainside. She started moving away loose rocks and rubble, trying to ignore the singing and get inside to find the Thunder Gems.
The singing intensified. Phoenix Ranger was too dizzy to stay standing. She stumbled backward, her world spinning as she slid back down to the ground. The five girls formed a line between Phoenix Ranger and the mountain.
The Pink Ranger was not out of the fight yet. She managed to rise to her feet, but for all she could tell, she may as well have been spread across the ground. She placed her hands together as the phoenix eyes on her helmet flashed with power.
“Heaven Wind Star!” she shouted over the singing. “Whirl-wind destruction!”
She extended her hand and launched a straight-line cyclone of pink energy and wind that knocked the girls over, stopping their singing, and streaked into the cave. The wind attack blasted open a hole in the cave.
Five streaks of energy shot out from the cave hole. The Thunder Gems streaked from the cave towards their holders.
The other three Rangers regrouped around Phoenix Ranger as the gems floated down into their palms.
Dragon Ranger was in his cockpit as the red Heaven-Star Thunder Gem floated towards him. Dragon Ranger grabbed the gem, and it pulsed with red energy. Dragon Ranger was truly connected to his zord. Their power flowed alongside each other, no longer needing Kaku as an anchor.
Dragon Ranger looked down at the gem in his palm. The outline of a dragon appeared drawn with lines of energy within the gem..
Below, the other four Rangers grasped onto their gems. Each gem started to glow with the symbol of that Ranger’s animal.
The four Rangers unsheathed their swords and raised their weapons into the sky while holding their gems. “Thunderzords, arise!”
“Star Lion!” Lion Ranger shouted. A black-and-green lion appeared from a cloud of mist. The lion roared as it moved forward, almost as if it was hovering instead of running.
“Star Phoenix!” Phoenix Ranger shouted. The red-and-pink-trimmed bird swooped down from the skies with a snap of its golden tail.
“Star Tenma!” Tenma Ranger shouted.
“Star Kirin!” Kirin Ranger shouted.
The two zords charged into view. Both the black-and-blue-armored zord, and the yellow-and-black-armored zord, were nearly identical. The zords hovered forward with the same grace as the lion had.
The Rangers used their Thunder Blasters to reel themselves into their zords’ cockpits.
Tenma Ranger placed his hand on the crystal control sphere in front of him. “Gravity Thrower!” he shouted.
Star Tenma used gravity power to lift massive clumps of boulders and debris. The debris shot forward at high speeds, smashing against the Gorma with a cloud of dust upon impact.
Lion Ranger placed his hand over his zord’s control sphere. “Lion Mist!”
Star Lion used its powers of light and illusion to surround the Gorma monster with a cloud of mist. A giant illusion of Shadam ran forward through the mist.
“Shadam?!” Museek shrieked with shock as she took a step backward. The Shadam illusion slashed a blade across her chest, explosions ripping across her body as she fell backward, the illusion mist dropping around her.
Kirin Ranger placed his hand over his zord’s control sphere. “Kirin Flares!”
Star Kirin opened its jaws. Bolts of fiery energy shot forth. The energy blasts were actually temporal/spatial displacement flares. The flares exploded against the monster with a violent impact.
Phoenix Ranger placed her hand over her zord’s crystal. “Phoenix Hurricane!”
Star Phoenix produced a large cyclone of pink energy that slammed into Museek and sent her crashing to the ground.
“Chariot Fusion!” Phoenix Ranger shouted.
Star Lion, Star Tenma, Star Phoenix, and Star Kirin shot to the skies as energy danced across their armor, lashing out like bolts of lightning. The four zords combined into a flying chariot. Red Dragon used its spinning staff like a helicopter propeller to glide and land on the Thunder Chariot.
The Thunder Chariot streaked downward as the Rangers joined in Dragon Ranger’s cockpit.
Red Dragon twirled his staff as the Chariot swooped down towards the enemy. Lines of crimson power gathered around the staff.
“Red Dragon!” Dragon Ranger shouted. “Whirling Force!”
Red Dragon leapt off the Chariot and arced down towards Museek. The red-armored zord landed while chopping its staff through the Gorma. Museek’s energy overloaded and exploded.
Monica and the other four girls dropped into unconsciousness, but they survived.
Darkness stirred on the other side of the city. A black-armored warrior slid his blade into its scabbard. He fit his mask into position. His gauntlets snapped into position. There was no turning back.
The dark-armored Gorma prepared to make his attack. An attack his master knew would leave the rangers in shambles.
To be continued…Chapter Five