Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Ten

The Chosen One

 

It was time.

 

Lightning flashed across California’s skies and pierced through the night. Dark clouds spread over Angel Grove City as thunder boomed across the air. The Tiger Saber known as Byakkoshinken fluxed with energy from the Hsuan T’ien Shang Ti Shrine in Angel Grove’s Chinatown. The saber fed off the lightning.

 

The lightning turned deep crimson as Byakko sent a telepathic howl across the city streets.

 

The howl reached a 10-year-old Japanese boy named Kou, asleep in his bed. Light from the red lightning illuminated his face. He wrinkled his brow and shuffled in his sleep.

 

“Kou…” said a voice inside his head. “Kou…”

 

***

 

Master Kaku sat in a meditative pose within the lair. He felt the power of the lightning storm rage across the city above ground. A voice spoke to him telepathically. The voice ebbed with power that flowed across the room. It was Zordon.

 

Kaku…Byakko is preparing to awaken. You know what this means, my friend. The Kiba Ranger is about to be born. You must take grave caution, for the Gorma will be after this Ranger. Your team must protect Byakkoshinken so that the sixth warrior can be born.

 

***

 

Tommy walked alone along the streets of Angel Grove North the next morning. His head was hung low. The Gorma were starting to get to him. Their attacks were too unpredictable, often times absurd but deadly. How was he supposed to fight against something like that?

 

But Tommy knew that wasn’t his real problem. His real problem was more simple - he was the leader. Kimberly assured him he was getting better and far more confident in the role. For an example, she cited Tommy taking Rocky to see battle damage from a Gorma attack.

 

But Tommy was still afraid. Not afraid for himself, but for his friends. He could not fail them like he had failed so many others in his life.

 

And the death of his father still weighed heavily on his mind. Tommy wondered if his father’s fate would his. The thought of becoming a traitor scared Tommy more than anything.

 

“Tommy,” a voice said from behind him. Tommy turned to see a man with long dark hair wearing a long black jacket. It was the Dark Man he first met after losing his Green Dragon Ranger powers. “We need to talk, boy.”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “You again…you’re one of the Gorma, aren’t you?”

 

The man laughed at the thought. “Oh Tommy…I’m afraid you’re wrong again. Who I am should not concern you…yet.”

 

“Why are you here?” Tommy asked.

 

“To warn you,” he said. “Things are about to get harder for you. More complicated. Be prepared.”

 

The Dark Man stepped back into an alley. Tommy went to chase after him, but he was gone. Tommy narrowed his brow. Who is this guy?

 

***

 

Kou raced on his skateboard through the streets outside of Chinatown and entered Angel Grove South. He had a mischievous grin on his face as he rode down the sidewalk against the flow of pedestrians. “Out of the way! You better move!”

 

A teenager nearly knocked Kou off his board, but he managed to slide across a curb and avoid getting plowed over.

 

Kou turned around a corner and sped forward. Up ahead on the sidewalk, he noticed a couple sitting together eating ice cream. A lopsided grin crossed his face. He sped up and zoomed past them while snatching the guy’s ice cream cone.

 

“Hey!” they shouted at Kou, but the boy kept riding.

 

Kou turned another corner and moved towards an apartment complex. He saw a girl with long, dark hair leave the building. He whistled at the sight of her. “That must be Kimberly…” he said to himself.

 

Kou stood on his board sideways and rolled towards Kimberly. He faced her as he passed by her side. “Hey. How are you today?”

 

Kimberly raised an eyebrow at the strange boy and smiled. “Okay. Don’t you think you better watch where you’re going?”

 

Kou stopped in front of her and flipped his board up to his left hand. He placed the board under his arm and wiped his right hand across his shirt. “I’ll be fine…My name’s Kou. I’ll be your little brother starting today.”

 

He finished wiping his hand and reached forward to shake her hand. He grabbed her breast instead.

 

“Hey!” She stepped back and slapped his hand away.

 

“Thanks.” Kou grabbed her purse, tossed down his board, and skated away.

 

“You little creep!” Kimberly shouted as she chased after him. “Hey!”

 

Kou kept speeding. While skating from Kimberly, he pulled the keys from her purse and placed them in his pocket.

 

Kimberly followed, and noticed Rocky jogging nearby. “Rocky!” she shouted to him.

 

Rocky stopped and turned towards her, his face slightly red. He had diverted his jogging path in hopes of running into Kimberly. He neglected to think how he would explain jogging in a completely different part of the city than where he lived.

 

“Hey Kimberly,” Rocky said. “I was just out for a run-”

 

“That kid took my purse!” she shouted to him.

 

“Huh?” Rocky said. Then he noticed the boy skate towards him.

 

“Hey!” Rocky shouted as he stood to block Kou’s path. “Isn’t it past your bedtime?”

 

Kou skid around Rocky and kept moving forward. “Kind of slow there, tubby,” Kou called back to Rocky as he moved back towards Chinatown.

 

“Tubby?!” Rocky said as he glared at the fleeing boy. “Why that little…”

 

Rocky and Kimberly sprinted after the boy as fast as they could. They wound through a paved path that cut into the trees and pierced into Chinatown’s borders. Kou ditched the purse at the site of a nearby shrine and ducked for cover behind one of the many stones. He leaned with his back against the stone and stayed quiet as the two rangers arrived.

 

“Where did that little snot run off to?” Rocky asked as he looked around.

 

“Rocky,” Kimberly said. “Be nice.”

 

“Hel-lo,” he said sarcastically.

 

“What?”

 

“He called me fat.”

 

Kim sighed. “You’ll live.”

 

Kou’s eyes darted back and forth as he tried to find the quickest way to run. The same voice that had spoken to him the night before entered his mind. “Kou…did you get her keys?”

 

Kou pulled out the keys and jiggled them in his hand. “Yeah, but I don’t know why I need them.”

 

“They will allow you to access her apartment,” the strange voice answered.

 

Kou rolled his eyes. “I figured that. Why do you keep talking in my head anyway? Why can’t you just show yourself.”

 

“It’s more fun this way,” the voice said, not trying to hide its amusement.

 

Rocky walked over to the steps of the shrine. He reached down and picked up Kimberly’s purse. A tendril covered with black hair suddenly leashed around Rocky’s leg and whipped him from his feet, sending him stumbling onto the ground.

 

Kimberly moved over to his side. “Rocky, what are you doing?”

 

“Looks like we’ve got company,” Rocky said as he rose back to his feet.

 

A trio of Gorma appeared in female form. They each wore a light suit of red-and-silver armor. They were called the Sankanjo, meaning Three Ladies. Their names were Iyaringu Kanjo, Lady Earring; Nekkuresu Kanjo, Lady Necklace; and Yubiwa Kanjo, Lady Ring

 

Ring Kanjo stepped forward and narrowed her eyes at the teens. “Rangers…” she hissed.

 

“Let’s go,” Rocky said as he and Kimberly readied their morphers.

 

Kou peaked out from behind the stone slab and watched the rangers.

 

“Chakra ignite! Aura Power!” they shouted as they connected their braces. Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their armor.

 

The Blue Ranger and Pink Ranger snapped into fighting stances.

 

Ring Kanjo started to un-strap her armor as her body rippled. “Allow us to introduce ourselves, Rangers…”

 

They transformed into their monster forms. Their skin turned cream colored and hard. Ring Kanjo’s upper body resembled a fist, and she wore a ring around her neck. Earring Kanjo had the same skin composition and shaggy strands of black hair hanging from her head. Necklace Kanjo’s slender body and head were capable of expanding.

 

“We are the Siamese Kanjo!” they said in unison.

 

“Siamese Kanjo?” Phoenix Ranger said.

 

“What kind of name is that?” Tenma Ranger said.

 

“Red Vortex!” Ring Kanjo shouted. The monsters dropped a globe of crimson energy that expanded and surrounded the entire area with a pocket dimension. The shadowy pocket dimension was dimly-lit with hues of red. Fog covered the ground.

 

Tenma Ranger and Phoenix Ranger crossed past each other and switched stances as the sisters unsheathed double-edged swords and charged towards them to attack.

 

Necklace Kanjo and Earring Kanjo jumped onto Ring Kanjo’s shoulders and leapt forward. The two sisters landed while slashing their blades across the Rangers’ armor with bursts of spark.

 

Ring Kanjo leapt forward and landed while swinging a backhand strike in a wide arc. Her blade sparked across the Rangers’ armor and knocked them backward.

 

The Rangers regrouped. “Thunder Staffs!” they shouted as they swung their red staffs into fighting positions and charged forward to attack.

 

Kou still peeked from behind a stone slab and watched the two Rangers and Gorma bash against each other. “Whoa…” Kou whispered, the sound of his voiced drowned out by the clash of sword against staff.

 

Earring Kanjo knocked Tenma Ranger’s staff away and arced her blade back around, slashing across the Ranger’s armor with a burst of spark. Necklace Kanjo dashed past the Ranger from his side while running her blade across his armor, the weapon sparking on impact, whipping the Ranger‘s body backward.

 

Ring Kanjo parried a blow from Phoenix Ranger and spun forward, slashing her double-edged blade across the Pink Ranger’s chest with a burst of spark.

 

Kou kept watching, his eyes wide open. The voice spoke to him. “Those are the Gorma…”

 

Kou heard the sound of wheels squeaking behind him. The boy turned to see a small black chariot pulled forward by two Kyonshi.

 

The grunts were dressed in black cloaks. A young boy no older than Kou and an older man sat side-by-side in the chariot. They both appeared Asian and had grim expressions on their faces. Their outfits were clearly Gorma in design, all black with white trimming and leather straps.

 

The boy wore a headband with a dull-silver medallion at the center of his forehead. His name was Akomaru. The older man was known as Tenpo Shogun. He had raised the boy himself.

 

Nearby, the three Gorma sisters leapt towards the Rangers and chopped their swords down vertically.

 

The Rangers braced themselves, but two red staffs came out as if from nowhere and blocked the blows. The other three Rangers had arrived.

 

The Rangers kicked the sisters backward, and Dragon Ranger helped Phoenix Ranger to her feet. “Are you okay, Kim?” 

 

“Yeah,” Phoenix Ranger said.

 

“I’m fine too, thanks,” Tenma Ranger said as the three Gorma regrouped.

 

Lion Ranger drew his sidearm. “Thunder Blaster!” The Green Ranger fired blasts of jade-tinted energy that exploded across the sisters, sparks ripping across their armor.

 

Still out of sight from the Rangers, Akomaru stood in his chariot and armed a small bow and arrow. Demonic symbols were etched onto the bow. The boy snapped an arrow that streaked into the sky and exploded with a blinding flash of light that dissipated the pocket dimension, returning the battle site to normal.

 

The sisters returned to their human forms as Tenma Ranger looked to his teammates. “They’re even uglier in this form.”

 

“Rangers,” Ring Kanjo said as she and her sisters slowly stepped backward. “We will continue this another day. And don’t worry…we’ll find the Kiba Ranger before you do. We will prevent his birth.”

 

“Kiba Ranger?” Dragon Ranger said.

 

The sisters blinked away.

 

“Well that was weird,” Tenma Ranger said.

 

“Let’s get to the lair,” Dragon Ranger said. The Rangers turned and ran off.

 

Nearby, a fiendish grin crossed Akomaru’s face as he sat back in his chariot. The boy caught Kou’s glance and narrowed his eyes. It was the first time Akomaru had seen a normal human child.

 

The Shogun turned his head towards his charge. “What is wrong, Akomaru?”

 

“Nothing,” Akomaru said. And with that, the Kyonshi rode off.

 

The boy pulled a small whistle from his pocket. The small instrument served many purposes. Few could grasp what those purposes were. He blew the whistle, which made a unique high-pitched whooping sound. The sound was too laid back to be a command to his Kyonshi. The whistle itself almost seemed to have a power to it.

 

Kou’s eyes were fixed on the chariot as it rode off. The voice spoke to him. “Kou…we are wasting time.”

 

***

 

The teens gathered in the lair along with Master Kaku. Their Sensei was sitting on his small platform. Adam took a step towards the platform. “What were they talking about?”

 

Kaku nodded. “The Kiba Ranger. There is a sixth Ranger whose true identity remains unknown. The Gorma will be looking for him, but we have to find him first.”

 

“Another Ranger would be a lot of help,” Rocky said.

 

“How can we find this Ranger?” Billy asked Sensei.

 

“The legends say the Kiba Ranger will be the holder of Byakkoshinken,” Kaku said.

 

“Byakko…” Tommy said, recognizing the name.

 

Rocky knitted his brow. “Isn’t that the tiger-saber thing Gohun’s fiancé had?”

 

Kaku nodded. “Yes. You must protect Byakko at all costs.”

 

“Well,” Tommy said. “Then I guess we’re off to that shrine.”

 

***

 

Akomaru stood in front of the Guan Yu Shrine, surrounded by an ornate garden modeled after ancient China in Angel Grove’s Chinatown. The three sisters stood behind him in their human forms. The Gorma Triumvirate faced the boy and his servants. Shadam’s body was tense with rage as he glared at the child.

 

“What’s wrong, Shadam?” the Shogun asked as he stepped forward from the chariot. “Does your own son intimidate you?”

 

Shadam scoffed.

 

The Shogun smiled with evil pride as he stood behind Akomaru and placed his hands on the child’s shoulders. “He will find Byakko and stop the Kiba Ranger from being born.”

 

Zydos laughed. “A small boy?”

 

“That’s ridiculous,” Gara said, her arms crossed over her chest.

 

The Shogun turned and stepped back into the chariot. “Now Akomaru…I leave things up to you,” he said before riding off towards the distance. The chariot blinked away.

 

“Kanjo,” Akomaru said with a biting voice full of bitterness and hate. He turned his back towards the Triumvirate and started to walk away. “Let’s go too.”

 

“Wait, Akomaru,” Shadam shouted with a stern voice, his eyes narrowed. “What do you think you are doing? You are a mere child. How do you expect to find the Kiba Ranger? You’ll only get in my way. Stay out of this.”

 

“Stay out?” Akomaru said in disbelief. He felt the burning gaze of his father against his back. The boy turned to face him. “I won’t take orders from you,” he said, his voice thick with anger. “You abandoned me moments after my birth. It was the Shogun who raised me. Besides…I have a resource you do not.”

 

Akomaru turned as he and the sisters vanished, blurring out of sight.

 

Shadam clenched his jaw. What resource could that bastard child have?

 

***

 

Kimberly’s apartment was a mess as Kou tore through it. Drawers were emptied onto the floors. Book bags were opened and spilled onto the couch. He rummaged through her things as fast as possible.

 

He could not find what he needed.

 

He started looking over the pictures hanging on her wall. He glanced past a picture of the original six rangers. Kimberly had insisted that someone take their picture while they were sitting around a table in a pool hall, on their last outing together before Jason, Zack, and Trini left for Japan to study abroad for a year.

 

Another picture was a group shot of the current five rangers and Kaku, taken by Kimberly’s uncle before he mysteriously took off with a fiancé a small fraction of his age. Kou reached up for the picture and pulled it down. A small wooden totem was taped to the back of the picture.

 

“That’s it, Kou!” the voice in his head said. “That will allow you to become the Kiba Ranger!”

 

Kou’s face lit up. “Yes…” he whispered with excitement as he stuffed the small totem into his right pocket.

 

The apartment door swung open, and Kimberly stepped in. She took a step back in shock when she saw the mess, then she narrowed her eyes when she spotted Kou.

 

“Hey!” she said sternly as she entered the living room. “What do you think you’re doing?”

 

“Hey sister,” Kou said with a smile as he took an apple from a nearby bowl and took a bite. “This place is pretty messy. You should probably clean it up sometime.”

 

Kimberly took a step back and shook her head, not believing what was happening. She took a deep breath to calm herself and walked over to the boy. “You did this. How did you get in here?” Kim asked as Kou continued to eat the apple.

 

Kou pulled out Kim’s keys from his pocket and held them up while smiling mischievously.

 

Kimberly opened her eyes wide with shock. She checked her purse and found that the keys were indeed missing. “Why you little…”

 

Kou snickered beneath his breath while taking another bite from the apple. He started pacing while tossing the keys up and catching them repeatedly.

 

“Give me back my keys, now,” Kimberly said.

 

“Ummm…no,” Kou said.

 

Kimberly grabbed Kou’s ear and dragged him to the door as he winced in pain.

 

“Hey, let go…that’s no way to treat your little brother,” he said.

 

Kimberly let go and held out her hand. “Keys.”

 

Kou held up the keys, and as Kimberly reached out to grab them, Kou grabbed her breast again and pushed Kimberly out the door, slamming the door shut and locking her out of her own apartment.

 

“You creep!” Kimberly shouted. “Let me in!”

 

Kou leaned against the door and smiled. “Maybe later.”

 

“There’s no time, Kou.” The voice said in his head. “You must leave at once.”

 

Kou nodded, grabbed his bag and skate board, and left for the window.

 

Outside, Kim quit banging on the door, closed her eyes, placed her hands together, and used her Kiryoku to unlock the door.

 

Inside, she found no trace of Kou, but the window was open. She ran out to the balcony and looked down to find Kou on the street below getting on his skate board. “Wait!” Kimberly shouted. “Get back up here!”

 

Kou turned and smiled. “I would love to but there’s no time…bye, sister.” He rode off.

 

“Wait!” Kimberly turned and ran from her apartment to the nearest stairwell.

 

***

 

Akomaru and his three Kanjo stood on top of a skyscraper in Angel Grove South. Necklace Kanjo extended her neck like rubber and used enhanced vision to look out upon the streets far below.

 

“Kanjo…” Akomaru said as he stepped towards her. “Have you found it?”

 

Necklace Kanjo zeroed in on Byakkoshinken. “Yes…I have located it.”

 

Akomaru smiled, a glimmer of evil in his eye. “Excellent…”

 

***

 

Kou sped through the streets on his skateboard and raced towards the Hsuan T'ien Shang Ti Shrine as fast as he could. The voice in his head urged him on. “Hurry,” the voice said. “The Gorma are close.”

 

Kou nodded and picked up the pace.

 

***

 

Kimberly followed Kou to a shrine in Chinatown but lost sight of him on the shrine’s courtyard. She looked up and spotted a white saber stuck in a stone. Steep stairs on each side of the shrine led upward to the saber.

 

“Byakkoshinken… “ Kimberly whispered.

 

She walked towards the saber, but a long strand of hair suddenly shot out and wrapped around her chest. The hair tentacle snapped Kimberly off her feet and tossed her, sending her tumbling across the ground.

 

Kimberly rose to her knees and looked up to see Akomaru and the three Kanjo in their monster forms. Akomaru stared at her with eyes of ice. “I won’t let you interfere with our plans.”

 

Kimberly readied her Aura Morphers and rose to her feet. “That saber belongs to the Rangers.”

 

Kimberly leapt through the air towards the Gorma while connecting her braces. “Aura Power!” Energy shimmered around her as she morphed into her Ranger armor and pulled out her sidearm.

 

“Thunder Blaster!” she shouted while dropping from midair, firing lances of pink energy that blasted Earring Kanjo against the chest, causing her to stumble backward.

 

Phoenix Ranger landed and twirled her staff into a fighting position. “Thunder Staff!”

 

The three Gorma monsters unsheathed their double-edged swords and started circling around the Pink Ranger.

 

Necklace Kanjo charged forward and chopped her blade towards the Pink Ranger. Phoenix Ranger used her staff to swat the sword away, and twisted the staff back around, bashing its end across the Gorma’s face as the other two sisters charged towards the Pink Ranger from behind.

 

Phoenix Ranger spun and slapped the two sisters’ swords away. She spun back around, snapping an outer crescent kick that smashed across Ring Kanjo’s head.

 

Earring Kanjo twisted her wrist around in a backhand swing towards Phoenix Ranger. The Pink Ranger extended her staff and blocked the blow. Sword clashed against staff as Phoenix Ranger slammed a sidekick against her attacker’s chest. Pink Ranger pushed forward to the second sister and slammed a spinning heel kick across that Gorma’s head.

 

Necklace Kanjo moved behind Phoenix Ranger. Pink Ranger snapped around with a hook kick that bashed across the Gorma’s head.

 

Ring and Earring Kanjo leapt forward towards the Ranger while extending their hands. They fired neon pulse blasts from their palms that exploded against the Ranger’s chest with a burst of spark, knocking her backward.

 

Kou was nearby, watching from behind a bush. “Sister…” he whispered as the three Gorma slashed their blades across Pink Ranger’s armor, weapons sparking upon impact.

 

Ring Kanjo leapt through the air, howling at the top of her lungs as she swung her blade down towards the Pink Ranger’s head.

 

“Si-kuya!” Tommy shouted as he leapt through the air as if from nowhere and kicked the Gorma from the air. Ring Kanjo crashed to the ground.

 

Tommy landed as he and the other teens regrouped around Phoenix Ranger. Tommy helped her to her feet as the three sisters regrouped as well.

 

Rocky pointed at the villains. “You three are starting to get on my nerves!”

 

The teen boys readied their morphers. “Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” they shouted as they connected their braces. Energy shimmered around their bodies as their armor wrapped around them.

 

The Rangers and Gorma charged at each other and attacked. The sounds of blades clashing against each other and fierce punches and kicks filled the air as Kou watched.

 

“How am I going to get to that saber now?” Kou asked. “They’re all out there.”

 

Byakkoshinken’s eyes suddenly flashed red as the saber howled. The skies became dark, and crimson lightning shot down from the clouds, exploding across the ground around the Rangers and Gorma with bursts of near-blinding sparks.

 

“It’s time Kou,” said the voice in his head, the voice of Byakko.

 

Kou ran forward and scrambled up the stairs of the shrine. He moved to the stone and looked to Byakko. The saber ebbed with a power that Kou was drawn to in ways he could not understand.

 

“Now, Kou,” the voice in his head said. The boy stood firm and rolled his hands into fists, ready for what he had to do. “Take the saber. Pull it free!”

 

Kou wrapped his hands around the saber’s handle. Lightning thundered and flashed as Kou pulled the weapon free. The power of the saber knocked Kou from his feet. He fell from the shrine and landed on the ground below.

 

Kou rose to his feet and looked at the weapon’s pommel, which was engraved as the head of a tiger. The tiger engraving moved as if alive when it spoke. “You did it, Kou!” Kou knitted his brow, more than a little surprised at the talking saber while it continued speaking. “It took you long enough. My name is Byakkoshinken. You can call me Byakko. Nice to meet you.”

 

Kou nodded. “Thanks…I guess. You were the voice in my head?”

 

“Yes, yes,” Byakko said with impatience. “Now Kou…your Kiba Changer is inside the totem you sto…umm…borrowed. Use it to become the Kiba Ranger!”

 

Kou pulled the totem from his pocket. Inside was a wrist brace and golden key. The key was wide, and its end was ring shaped. The brace was black with golden trimming.

 

Kou placed the brace over his left wrist and strapped the device in place. He held Byakko tightly in his left hand, and the key in his right hand. He had seen the rangers morph twice. He knew what to do.

 

“Chakra ignite!” he shouted. “Kiba Power!” Kou slid the key into his brace. Golden energy pulsed as the brace emitted a golden symbol of the tiger. Energy flashed around Kou as white armor wrapped around his body.

 

The boy opened his eyes wide with amazement as his body started to grow taller and his muscles expanded. Golden and white energy flashed around his head as his tiger helmet formed. The golden coin shimmered and slammed against his chest, fusing in place as a chest shield of black with golden trimming appeared.

 

He was the white-armored Kiba Ranger.

 

The skies above cleared as Byakko looked up to the newest Ranger. “Now, Kiba Ranger,” Byakko said. “Test your new powers!”

 

Kiba Ranger nodded. “Right!” he tightened his grip on the saber and rolled his other hand into a fist. He felt The Power burning through his veins like white-hot flame.

 

Kiba Ranger sprang forward and flipped through the air before landing against the side of a tree trunk. He scaled up the tree several feet before pushing off and flipping backward, landing on the ground.

 

Kiba Ranger launched through a series of lightning-quick backflips. He leapt upward and corkscrewed through the air. The White Ranger landed in the center of a group of boulders.

 

“Sweet…” Kiba Ranger said as he looked down at his gloved hands.

 

“Use your Kiryoku, Kou,” Byakko said.

 

Kiba Ranger nodded and sheathed his saber onto his belt. “Kiryoku!” he shouted as he extended his hand forward. A wave of invisible energy slammed against a boulder, pulverizing it into dust. The shockwave slammed against Kiba Ranger, sending him stumbling across the ground.

 

“Whoa,” Kiba Ranger said as he sat up and held onto his saber. “I pack a punch.”

 

“You must control your powers, Kou,” Byakko said.

 

“Easier said then done…” Kiba Ranger said. “Hey…I’m a Ranger now…sweet!”

 

Kiba Ranger leapt through the air, somersaulted over the Rangers and Gorma, and landed on a tree stump on a grassy hill. The Rangers ran towards him. The Gorma were at the Rangers’ heels, the sisters limping forward along with Akomaru.

 

The White Ranger looked down as the Gorma and Ranger approached. Byakko spoke for Kiba Ranger to hide the boy’s voice. “Give up, Gorma!” Byakko shouted. “I am the Heaven Roaring Star, Kiba Ranger!”

 

Akomaru glared at the Ranger. He needed a new plan. He stepped backward and motioned the Gorma sisters to do the same. “Back…back!”

 

The Gorma blinked away. The five Rangers ran towards Kiba Ranger, but the White Ranger leapt through the air and vanished from sight.

 

***

 

Kou walked by the Chinatown park the next day with a proud smile on his face that quickly turned into a mischievous grin. He found a secluded area and pulled out his morpher. “Chakra ignite! Kiba Power!”

 

Energy flashed around his body as he morphed into his Ranger form. “This is so sweet!” Kiba Ranger shouted as he attached Byakko to his belt, kicked up his skateboard and flipped through the air. “Kiba Ranger, coming through!”

 

Kiba Ranger dropped his skateboard, hopped on, and started speeding down the streets.

 

Kiba Ranger sped head-on towards a semi truck. The driver slammed his horn as Kiba Ranger leapt over the semi truck.

 

The White Ranger landed on the other side of the truck and stumbled onto his tail bone. He looked over to the truck and shouted. “Watch where you’re going next time!”

 

Kiba Ranger laughed beneath his breath as he rose back to his feet. He looked down a nearby sidewalk where a group of girls were walking and giggling amongst themselves. Some of them wore skirts.

 

The White Ranger extended his hand. “Kiryoku!” Kiba Ranger blasted an invisible pulse of telekinetic energy that lifted the girls’ skirts. They screamed and started to run off as Kiba Ranger laughed.

 

Byakko opened his mouth and roared. The saber emitted a telekinetic pulse of its own that slammed against Kiba Ranger, knocking him across the street and sending him stumbling into a secluded area.

 

Kou’s armor powered down as he rolled to a stop and sat up. He pulled Byakko out of his jacket. “What did you do that for?”

 

“This is not what your powers were meant for!” the saber shouted. “How long do you plan on fooling around?”

 

“I was just trying to have some fun,” Kou said. “I like transforming.”

 

“But you must act responsibly!” Byakko countered. “Your powers were meant to be used against the Gorma, not against people for practical jokes…and…”

 

Byakko was cut off as Kou placed a small strand of material around the saber’s mouth like a muzzle. Kou stuffed the Tiger Saber back into his jacket. “Now…be quiet and stay in my coat…we don’t want people to be suspicious, do we?”

 

***

 

The five teens walked along a park trail leading towards Kimberly’s apartment. “It’s been a couple days since we’ve seen that Kiba Ranger,” Adam said.

 

Billy nodded. “And the Gorma have been kind of quiet. We can only suspect that they’re searching for this sixth Ranger.”

 

“So why are we all going back to Kimberly’s apartment instead of looking for our new tiger-headed friend?” Rocky asked.

 

“My Uncle Gohun might have left some clues behind,” Kimberly said.

 

“Did ya hear that, Shaggy?” Rocky said as he placed his hand on Tommy’s shoulder. “A clue, zoinks.”

 

Tommy shook his head. “I think you’re losing your touch.”

 

Rocky shrugged. “It’s been a long couple of days.”

 

The rangers entered the apartment complex and walked up a flight of stairs. They moved down the hall and entered Kimberly’s apartment. The rangers stopped in the doorway at what they saw: An elderly couple was using a ladder to move down from the crawlspace in her ceiling. Kou was sitting at the kitchen counter with a video game.

 

The lady looked up and smiled at them. “Oh you must be Kimberly,” the older lady said. “It was so nice of you to offer to let Kou stay with you.”

 

Kimberly wrinkled her brow. “But we didn’t…” she shook her head. “What?”

 

“We were surprised too…” the man said. “Kou has a sister.”

 

“We were friends of his mother’s,” the lady said. “She died when he was 5, and we’ve been taking care of him since.”

 

“She’s not dead,” Kou said, his eyes glued to the game console. “She’s missing. She’ll be back.”

 

“Well,” the man said. “Everything’s moved upstairs. Time to go.”

 

The older lady gave Kou a hug and kissed him on the cheek. “Now don’t forget to brush your teeth everyday and to change your underwear.”

 

“You’re embarrassing me…” Kou said.

 

“Thanks again,” Kou’s female guardian said. “We have a produce market in Chinatown.” She handed Kimberly a business card as she left with her husband.

 

“But…” Kimberly tried to say as they shut the door.

 

Kou stuffed the game console in his pocket and climbed up the ladder. Kimberly turned to him. “Kou, what do you…” but he was already upstairs.

 

“Looks like you have a new roommate,” Rocky said with a smile as he leaned on Kimberly’s shoulder. She glared at him.

 

Kou sat on a sleeping bag in the small crawlspace and pulled Byakko from his jacket. He removed the muzzle from the saber. “Kou, don’t you ever do that to me again…It’s my job to guide and help you. Now…why did you move in here! You can’t let the Rangers or the Gorma find out who you are.”

 

Kou shrugged. “Kimberly seems…nice. And I was getting sick of the grocers anyway. Besides, if I stay here, I can follow the Rangers’ movements.”

 

“Ha Ha!” Byakko said. “You have a crush on someone older than you!”

 

“What?”

 

“You’re blushing!”

 

“Shut up!” Kou said as he threw Byakko across the room. The saber hit a box and landed on the floor.

 

“I was just kidding…” Byakko said.

 

***

 

Akomaru stood with his back to the Gorma Triumvirate as he faced the Kanjo sisters at the Guan Yu Shrine. The three Gorma leaders stared mockingly at Akomaru.

 

“What are you going to do now, Akomaru?” Shadam asked. “Thanks to you, the Kiba Ranger was born.”

 

“And now we have another Ranger to deal with,” Gara said.

 

Akomaru turned to face his father. “My mission is to find out who the Kiba Ranger is, and lure him to the Gorma.”

 

Shadam scoffed. “You can’t do that.”

 

Akomaru walked towards the three Gorma. “Father…I hate you. Just as I hate the mother who abandoned me. I…well…you will see. Hmph.” Akomaru turned to face the sisters. “The Kiba Ranger is a boy like me. He will have the symbol of the tiger on his forearm. Find him.”

 

The sisters nodded, stepped backward, and vanished.

 

***

 

The next morning, Kou slid down the ladder from the attic. He landed on the carpet below and noticed Kimberly walking towards the kitchen counter with a tray of juice and pancakes. “Good morning,” she said.

 

Kou’s face lit up. “You made me breakfast?”

 

Kimberly nodded as she set the tray down on the kitchen counter. “I’ve thought it over and decided to let you stay here.”

 

“Thanks…” Kou said as he sat opposite of Kimberly at the counter. “I…It’s been hard living with those two grocers…they never really had time for me…they treated me like a nuisance...I’ve been feeling kind of lonely.”

 

Kimberly shook her head. “I’m sorry.”

 

The phone rang, and Kimberly answered it. “Hello?….Yes…just a second…“ She extended the phone to Kou. “It’s for you, Kou.”

 

Kou’s face lit up. “Me?” he picked up the phone. “Hello?”

 

The voice on the other end spoke with a strange tone. “Kou…it’s your mother…I miss you…meet me at the park…” Rocky was whispering in a telephone booth outside talking in a feminine voice. “I hope you’ve been good while I’ve been gone.”

 

Kou’s face lit up. “Yes…I’m on my way.” Kou hung up the phone and practically leapt from seat as he grabbed his skateboard and backpack. “That was my mom! I’m going to go meet her!”

 

Kimberly leaned back and sighed, partially with relief and partially with guilt. A closet door near the back of the apartment opened and Adam, Billy, and Tommy stepped out.

 

“Well,” Billy said as he walked over to the attic. “Let’s load this stuff into Rocky’s truck.”

 

“You guys,” Kimberly said as she walked over to them. “I don’t know. I feel bad doing this to him.”

 

“He’ll be fine back at the grocers,” Tommy said as he placed a hand on her shoulder. “Besides, your mother would kill you if she found a kid living in your attic.”

 

“She’d never find out because she’s never here,” Kimberly said. Kou was a spoiled brat with no sense of manners. But when she spoke with him a few minutes ago, she could see the pain in his eyes. It was a look Kimberly knew well. Her father was gone. She never saw her mother. A look of abandonment.

 

“It will all work out,” Tommy said.

 

***

 

The teens loaded Kou’s possessions into the back of the truck. Adam was at the wheel, and Billy was in the passenger seat. Tommy was sitting in the back of the truck. He had one of Kou’s bags under his arm.

 

“Kim’s right,” Tommy said as he stared at the bag.

 

A group of kids suddenly ran screaming across the street as Adam skid the truck to a halt. Tommy turned and wrinkled his brow with confusion. “What the…”

 

Rocky ran towards the teens from the other side of the street. “It’s our Gorma buddies,” Rocky said. “This way.”

 

The rangers hopped from the truck and ran around a corner, heading in the direction from where the kids were running from. They spotted the three Gorma sisters, plucking kids from their feet and tearing away their shirt sleeves.

 

“Gorma!” Tommy shouted as he and the others ran forward.

 

The sisters had no time for conflict. They blinked away. 

 

Tommy activated his wrist communicator. “Kim…the Gorma are out. We need you.”

 

Kimberly answered. “Okay. I’m on my way.”

 

***

 

Kimberly ran outside of her apartment complex and stopped in her tracks when she saw Kou. The boy’s jaw was clenched and his eyes ready to break into tears.

 

“Kou…” Kimberly started to say through her guilt.

 

“Bakka bakka bakka!” Kou yelled as he ran towards Kim. “Why did you do that to me. Make me think that my mom…”

 

“Kou…I’m sorry. It’s just…my mother probably wouldn’t like you staying with us and…”

 

“So you dump me on the street? Just like everyone else!” Kou said.

 

Kimberly shook her head and placed her hands on the boy‘s shoulder. “No it’s not like that, I…”

 

“No!” Kou yelled as he knocked Kimberly‘s hands away. “Never mind! I’ll live on my own. I don’t need you! You’re just like everyone else!” he sprinted away towards the wooded park.

 

“Kou!” Kimberly yelled as she chased after him.

 

***

 

Kou ran down a path through the park as fast as he could while wiping the tears from his eyes. Everyone in his life left him. Everyone.

 

One of the Kanjo sisters stepped across the path while in her human form. Kou skid to a halt when he saw her and tripped over his own feet, falling backward onto his tailbone. She cast a wicked smile down at him and stalked forward. “Could you be the one?”

 

Kou slid backward and glared at the Gorma. “Leave me alone!”

 

The sister reached down and grabbed Kou by the arm. He screamed at her while kicking, trying to pull his arm away. She pulled back his sleeve. Her eyes opened wide at what she saw on his upper arm: a tattoo of a tiger. “You are!”

 

“Let go!” Kou shouted as his mind flashed back…

 

A young Kou, no older than five, sat on the floor of a strange shrine at night. He was crying as his mother held tightly onto his arm. “Let go, momma!” he shouted, unable to understand what was happening.

 

Kou’s mother’s face was damp with tears, pained by her own grief. Pained by what she had to put her son through. She finished heating an iron stamp with the symbol of the tiger. “I’m sorry, Kou…I must do this…”

 

Kou was still crying, trying desperately to take his arm away.

 

She burned the tiger clamp onto his arm as he screamed. “Kou!” she shouted, dropping the clamp aside and reaching forward, embracing her son as they both cried.

 

The Kanjo sister continued to stalk towards Kou. “You are the Kiba Ranger,” the sister said as she smiled wickedly.

 

Kimberly ran to the scene and spotted the Gorma. She leapt through the air and slammed a flying kick against the villain, knocking her backward. Kimberly landed between Kou and the villain. She looked back to the boy. “Kou, run.”

 

Kou nodded and ran off as the Gorma transformed into her monster form. It was the Earring Kanjo.

 

Kimberly thrust her arm forward. “Kiryoku!” she fired an invisible telekinetic blast that smashed against the villain and knocked her backward.

 

The monster ricocheted off a tree and leapt back towards Kimberly while chopping her double-edged sword downward. Kimberly grabbed the villain by the wrist and flipped the monster through the air, swinging the Gorma around to bash her against the ground.

 

The villain slowly rose to her feet as the other rangers arrived at the scene and regrouped around Kimberly.

 

The rangers armed their morphers. “Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. The Rangers snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Dragon Ranger! Heaven Fire Star, Red!”

 

“Lion Ranger! Heaven Illusion Star, Green!”

 

“Tenma Ranger! Heaven Gravity Star, Blue!”

 

“Kirin Ranger! Heaven Time Star, Yellow!”

 

“Phoenix Ranger! Heaven Wind Star, Pink!”

 

Dragon Ranger lifted his hand towards the air. “Power of the Stars, brought down…” Together, they shouted: “Heaven Star Task Force…Power Rangers!”

 

The Gorma monster and Rangers charged towards each other.

 

***

 

Kou ran towards the edge of the wooded park. He could have stayed and helped Kimberly. He could have transformed into Kiba Ranger. But he chose not to, not after what Kimberly had done to him.

 

He skid to a stop near a trail when he saw Akomaru riding in his chariot. Their gazes met again as they exchanged cold stares.

 

Byakko wiggled to get Kou’s attention. “Kou! Kou!” the saber peeked out of the boy’s jacket. “The Rangers need your help!”

 

“Why should I help them?” Kou said as he turned his back towards the chariot, which moved off towards the distance. “You heard what they did to me.”

 

“Kooou…” Byakko was losing patience. “You are one of them now. It’s your responsibility to help them.”

 

***

 

The other four Rangers had regrouped with Phoenix Ranger, and the battle moved to a rock quarry nearby. The three Gorma sisters split up and attacked the Rangers with pulses of crimson energy.

 

A blast exploded against Phoenix Ranger’s chest with a burst of spark and knocked her backward. The Pink Ranger went stumbling across the ground as Earring Kanjo lashed out with a hair tentacle and wrapped the tentacle around Phoenix Ranger. The villain lifted Pink Ranger into the air and squeezed tightly.

 

The other Rangers battled nearby. Ring Kanjo blocked a kick by Lion Ranger and bashed the Green Ranger across the helmet, knocking him away.

 

Tenma Ranger moved in with a backfist swing towards the Gorma, but the sister blocked the blow and slammed two punches against the Blue Ranger’s gut, knocking the wind from his lungs and sending him stumbling backward.

 

Necklace Kanjo wrapped her own flexible, stretched neck around Dragon Ranger and flipped him through the air. Red Ranger crashed against the ground as Kirin Ranger moved in with a roundkick towards the Gorma’s head. The villain blocked the blow and slammed a backfist across the Ranger’s head.

 

Akomaru watched the battle from his chariot on a cliff above. He was anxious for the battle to end and the Rangers to die, but the only way one could see that through his calm, cold facade was when he blew his whistle.

 

Kou had arrived at the scene as well and watched from behind a pile of gravel and dirt. He watched as a tentacle of hair lifted Phoenix Ranger and suspended her in the air while squeezing. The Gorma sent a shock of crimson energy along the tendril that exploded against the Pink Ranger’s armor.

 

“Phoenix Ranger…” Kou whispered as he watched sparks rip across her armor.

 

Byakko peeked out from Kou’s jacket. “You must help them, Kou…it’s time to use your powers as they were intended, not just to goof off.”

 

“But…” Kou said doubtfully.

 

“You can do it, Kou,” Byakko said to reassure the boy. “Your Ki is strong.”

 

Kou watched another explosion spark against Pink Ranger’s armor. Determination willed him to his feet as his muscles tensed.

 

“Morph, Kou,” Byakko said.

 

Kou readied his morpher: a wrist brace and golden key. “Chakra ignite! Kiba Power!” Energy shimmered around his body as he matured and morphed into his Ranger form.

 

***

 

Phoenix Ranger was held in the air as Earring Kanjo grinned with blood-thirsty delight. “And now you die!”

 

A white saber suddenly slashed down through the air and cut the hair tentacle. Kiba Ranger somersaulted forward through the air and landed on the ground.

 

Phoenix Ranger collapsed to the ground as the Gorma monster fell backward. Kiba Ranger snapped into a fighting stance and faced off with the Gorma as she rose to her feet.

 

Kiba Ranger leapt backward and landed on a cliff above.

 

The Rangers and Gorma below looked up to the White Ranger as he snapped into another fighting stance. Byakko spoke for the Ranger. “Heaven Roaring Star! Kiba Ranger!” Kiba Ranger aimed his saber down towards the villains. “Give up, Gorma! You are no match for me!”

 

“We’ll see!” Earring Kanjo shouted as she sprang forward through the air, landing on the same level as Kiba Ranger. The opponents assumed fighting stances and started circling around each other. Kiba Ranger’s stance was solid and fierce.

 

The opponents charged at each other. Earring Kanjo moved in low to sweep the legs out from the Ranger, but Kiba Ranger hopped over the leg. The White Ranger turned and snapped a roundkick towards the head that Earring Kanjo blocked.

 

Kiba Ranger’s movements were powerful but not nearly as fluid and graceful as the other Rangers.

 

The Gorma spun a high crescent kick that Kiba Ranger ducked under. Earring Kanjo completed the spin and snapped a roundkick towards the Ranger’s head. Kiba Ranger used both hands to block the blow and knock the Gorma’s leg away.

 

The sister swung another backfist strike that Kiba Ranger blocked and pushed away. He reached forward and slammed a cross punch against the Gorma, knocking her backward.

 

The sister spun forward, slashing claws across the Ranger’s faceplate and slamming a reverse sidekick against the White Ranger’s chest. She followed with a double punch against the Ranger’s chest and a round kick against his side. Kiba Ranger stumbled backward and fell off his feet.

 

The sister stalked towards the White Ranger. She smiled mockingly. “The mighty Kiba Ranger…ha!”

 

Byakko looked up to his holder. “You’re stronger than her, Kou!”

 

Kiba Ranger shook his head. “Tell that to her!”

 

 “Ha!” Byakko shouted as he speared towards the Gorma while dragging Kiba Ranger along.

 

The White Ranger spun past the monster while slashing her upward across the chest, blade sparking upon impact.

 

Byakko snapped the White Ranger around to face the Gorma. Kiba Ranger swung downward in an x-shaped pattern that sparked against the villain, forcing her back a few steps. White Ranger followed with a downward swing that sparked against the monster’s body.

 

“Jump, Kou!” Byakko shouted. Kiba Ranger sprang forward towards his opponent. “Kick!” Kiba Ranger kicked out with both legs, his heels slamming against the monster. White Ranger pushed off the villain’s chest and somersaulted backward through the air before landing on the ground in a crouched position.

 

“Attack!” Byakko shouted. Kiba Ranger sprang forward and slashed the villain horizontally, blade sparking across her body as she fell back off her feet and went tumbling across the ground.

 

Kiba Ranger twirled Byakko into a fighting stance as the saber spoke for the Ranger. “Do you want some more, Gorma!”

 

The sister stumbled back to her feet.

 

“Heaven Roaring Star!” Byakko shouted. The saber energized with golden power as Kiba Ranger thrust the blade upward. “Sound Bite!”

 

The blade emitted a high-frequency energy pulse that rocked the earth beneath their feet, sending a destructive wave of sonic energy roaring forward. The blast exploded against the Gorma, knocking her through the air like a rag doll.

 

The other sisters came to their fallen sister’s aide and helped her to her feet. They blinked away.

 

***

 

The Sankanjo walked towards Akomaru at the Guan Yu Shrine. Lady Necklace and Lady Ring carried Lady Earring between them. Earring Kanjo was so weak, she could barely keep her head up or walk on her own. Blood dripped down her forehead. 

 

Akomaru ran towards them. His normally cold face was broken with shock.

 

“Kiba Ranger…” Earring Kanjo said weakly. “He is strong…”

 

Akomaru knitted his brow with anger. “What...he did this to you?”

 

The dying sister nodded. “Yes…I found him…he is…is” her eyes closed and her body went limp as she exhaled her last breath.

 

“No!” the other sisters shouted as they cradled Earring Kanjo’s body.

 

A realization struck Akomaru. His mind flashed back to seeing Kou. The young Gorma put two and two together as he snapped his whistle. “Damn you, Kiba Ranger…”

 

***

 

Kou stood on a concrete pier that looked out upon the wide river below. He leaned on the railing and stared out aimlessly. Kim walked to his side and held up the boy’s skateboard. “This is yours, isn’t it?”

 

“Thanks…” Kou said quietly. His shoulders hung low.

 

Kimberly leaned against the rail. “I’ve been rethinking this whole you staying in my apartment thing.” Kou’s face lit up. “I know what it feels like to be neglected…I don’t want you to feel that way.” She sighed. “So…you can stay with me for awhile.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Just for a while. Until we can find you someplace permanent. But you have to follow the rules,” Kimberly said.

 

“All right!” Kou shouted as he started jumping up and down. “Thank you!”

 

Kimberly laughed as Kou ran around her.

 

To be continued…Chapter 11