Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Nine

Freedom on the March

 

Lynn Holtkamp drove as fast as she could through the back streets of Angel Grove West. Her job had become harder this year because of the new Rangers and their new enemies. The previous year, attacks on the city were blunt. But this new group was more subtle. Public glimpses of them were rare.

 

Holtkamp was following a lead about a battle near an old train station by the docks. This new terrorist group seemed to often operate out of abandoned buildings and run-down warehouses. Police were investigating to pick up a trail from the terrorists, but they could find nothing.

 

Holtkamp pulled her car up behind an old train engine and got out of her vehicles. Her sources were right on the money. She pulled out her portable camera and started filming the scene before her. The so-called Rangers were battling the terrorist group’s black-clad soldiers and another creature.

 

The Red Ranger stood in front of the train engine that Holtkamp hid behind. The Ranger twirled the staff back into a fighting position as the black soldiers charged forward.

 

Dragon Ranger spun forward and swung his staff, batting the soldiers’ weapons aside with one end of his staff and twirling the other end to bash the grunts across their heads.

 

Holtkamp kept her camera focused in on the Red Ranger as he moved through the group of soldiers, his staff snapping against weapons and breaking bones in a blur of motion her eyes could barely keep up with.

 

Her mind drifted to the same question every time she saw these combatants in action: Who were they? Too many supposed experts had too many theories, and none of them seemed credible.

 

One theory was that the villains were part of a terrorist camp from the Middle East, engaging in a new form of warfare with genetically engineered soldiers. The so-called Rangers were part of a clandestine U.N. anti-terrorist unit under this theory, which seemed the most accepted.

 

Other theories ranged from space aliens to elaborate hoaxes. The Bush administration had actually blamed Iraq and used genetically-altered terrorists as an excuse to invade the country. No one seemed to care that Iraq was later found to have no capabilities to make such bio weapons, nor were they responsible for a single act of terrorism on U.S. soil.

 

But woe to anyone who questioned the White House’s logic. They were immediately labeled as communists who did not support the country or support U.S. soldiers fighting overseas.

 

The thought of ignorant people blindly following a president sickened her. Part of being an American was the right she had to question her leaders, to make sure leaders were not sacrificing U.S. soldiers for a war based on a lie.

 

The administration claimed Iraq was the center of the broader war on terrorism. This was true currently, but only because the United States invaded the country. Terrorists were in Iraq because Americans were in Iraq. Meanwhile, the bastard actually responsible for the most massive terrorist attack on American soil was running free, dancing in the sand.

 

What scared Holtkamp even more was the way Bush talked about spreading freedom to the world. What the hell did that mean? Was the United States going to invade every country that did not have a democracy? The White House would say no, just places that harbor terrorists. Um, okay. There were terrorists in every country on the planet, including the United States. Holtkamp remembered Oklahoma city - a terrorist bombing made by a U.S. citizen. All countries, all U.S. allies, had terrorists.

 

And the United States had isolated itself from her allies. America spat on the nations of the world and took it upon herself to act as a global police force. The absurdity was staggering. The war in Iraq had nothing to do with protecting America. The war was breeding more hatred and more terrorists.

 

And people seemed to have forgotten about Bush’s failures at home. Jobs lost. Poor economy. Death penalty advocate. Gay people can not marry. Separation of church and state is non-existent. He was the only president to take a month-long vacation right after getting elected.

 

The entire world was going mad and no one seemed to care.

 

Holtkamp shook her head and tried to clear her mind of the tangent it went off on. The battle before her eyes was still spreading.

 

Phoenix Ranger had a ring-shaped blade in each hand. She spun to her left and chopped a blade against the back of a soldier’s neck and slashed the second blade through another soldier’s throat.

 

Two soldiers tried to sneak up on the Pink Ranger from behind.

 

Phoenix Ranger stepped backward and slammed her Star Blades against the grunts’ chests, knocking them backward.

 

The Pink Ranger rose back to her feet and spun forward, slashing both blades across another pair of soldiers’ chests, her weapons sparking on impact.

 

Tenma Ranger was nearby. The Blue Ranger spun two Star Blades, twirling the weapons as he dashed through a group of Capatros.

 

Holtkamp tried to zoom in on the Blue Ranger, but he was moving too fast to focus on.

 

The journalist shifted her camera. She narrowed in on an odd sight. The Green Ranger was leaning back in a fighting stance, facing off with a Gorma whose face resembled a twisted vase. The monster wore baggy white garments underneath brown armor plating that almost looked like clay.

 

The opponents started circling around each other and shifting stances. Their movements seemed almost graceful, Holtkamp thought. It looked more like dancing than fighting. Who were these people?

 

Lion Ranger and the Gorma monster charged at one another.

 

The Gorma pounced forward with a jump roundkick towards the head that Lion Ranger blocked.

 

Green Ranger knocked the villain’s leg away while spinning inward and slamming an elbow blow against the villain’s chest.

 

Their fight continued as Holtkamp opened her eyes wide with awe. She never saw anyone move so fast before. The Ranger and monster threw themselves at each other with a flurry of punches and kicks, blows smashing against limbs as their muscles pumped with raw power and strength.

 

Who were they? The secret nagged at her constantly.

 

A black soldier suddenly dropped in front of her. Holtkamp shrieked as she dropped her camera and fell on her tail bone. The camera shattered on the pavement as the soldier stalked towards her. The grunt seemed amused by her fear.

 

A red staff bashed the soldier’s head away with a streak of motion. It was the Red Ranger. “Get out of here,” he said to her. “Now.”

 

He was talking to her. “Who are you…” she asked.

 

Dragon Ranger ignored her question and turned back to the battle while twirling his staff into a fighting position. Holtkamp retrieved the data card from her digital camera and ran off.

 

***

 

“It’s crap,” Holtkamp’s editor said to her as he watched the video. “Didn’t anyone ever teach you how to hold a camera?”

 

“This is the closest footage of these new Rangers that anyone has gotten,” Holtkamp said.

 

“Bah,” the editor said. “Next time I’ll just send my 5-year-old daughter out with a camera. At least I won’t have to pay her.”

 

Her editor was rather picky. His attitude was partially a result of the competition his news station had with other stations. Angel Grove was divided into five sub-cities identified by direction: North, South, East, West and Central. Each had its own news station.

 

“Get back out there,” the boss said. “Find me something worth running. Something edgy. Something that doesn’t look like poorly filmed Japanese children’s programming.”

 

Holtkamp bit back her tongue and left the office, trying to ignore the tirade her editor continued, even after everyone left his office.

 

***

 

Holtkamp was starting to hate her job and her profession as a whole. She still enjoyed the work, but television media had become too corrupt. Too concerned with ratings to actually make a difference.

 

It could be worse though, she thought to herself. She could work for Fox News, which may as well have been called the Republican News Network. Every story was slanted and dripped with bias. “Guests” on Fox news shows were yelled at by an onslaught of right-slanted opinion from so called “objective” hosts.

 

What happened to all the journalists? Why was no one pinning the White House down with hard questions? Holding them accountable for their mistakes? Educating the public instead of spreading political fecal matter and accusations? The president was one of the most powerful men in the world, and with that came tremendous responsibility. What happened to the media watch dogs who made sure the government did not abuse its power?

 

Holtkamp heard sirens from a nearby fight. She laughed beneath her breath, but she wasn’t sure exactly why. What was the world coming to?

 

Half the people in the country were stupid, she convinced herself. They listened to their fears. It was obvious by their remarks on why they support Bush. His political nonsense seeped through his supporters mouths: we have to stay on the offensive to stop them from attacking us here, he has strong values, steadfast leadership.

 

It saddened her that people could be so stupid. She found Bush’s support less believable than the green-armored boy clashing against the clay-pot head monster on the streets ahead.

 

To be continued…Chapter 10