Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Twelve

White Tiger

 

A younger Kou hugged his mother by the shore as they laughed, for no reason other than the joy of laughter. They walked back towards their apartment and stopped on the way for ice cream.

 

The image shifted.

 

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.

 

His mother’s face was damp with tears. She was 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.

 

Kou awoke screaming in his bed. His forehead was damp with cold sweat. Byakko peaked out of Kou’s book bag. “What is it Kou?” the saber asked.

 

He shook his head, a somber look on his face. “Nothing…”

 

image003Kou climbed down from the attic and walked out to the balcony on Kimberly’s apartment. He leaned against the railing and looked up to the stars. “Mother…” he said softly.

 

The balcony door slid open again, and Kimberly stepped outside.

 

“You’re up late,” she said as she stood next to him.

 

He nodded.

 

“Is everything okay?” Kimberly asked.

 

He shrugged.

 

Kimberly sighed and placed her hands down on the railing. “How would you like to go on a road trip tomorrow with me?”

 

Kou‘s face lit up. “Really?”

 

“Yeah,” she said. “It will be fun.”

 

“Cool!” he said as he hugged her, finding comfort from her in the absence of his mother.

 

***

 

Akomaru leaned on a balcony in Angel Grove’s Chinatown the same night. His fists were clenched, anger storming inside of him.

 

Ring Kanjo, in her human form, stepped beside Akomaru. She was the only sister left alive.

 

“Kou will pay…” Akomaru cursed, his eyes staring towards the distance like daggers.

 

Ring Kanjo nodded in agreement. “They will…” she hissed.

 

***

 

Kimberly and Kou walked out of the apartment building the next morning and moved towards the curb with shoulder bags packed for the weekend. Kou looked happier than he had in days. “Where are we going first?” he asked.

 

“You’ll see,” she said.

 

Rocky pulled up to the curb in his truck, and the other rangers were with him.

 

“Ready?” Tommy asked Kimberly as he hopped off the truck.

 

Rocky leaned out the window and looked back to Tommy and Billy. “Did ya bring the coke?” he asked.

 

“I thought I did,” Billy said. “I was wrong.”

 

“Great,” Rocky said.

 

“It’s not like you need any more caffeine,” Tommy said.

 

Kou’s shoulders slumped at the sight of the others. “They’re coming…I thought…”

 

“What?” Kimberly asked.

 

Kou turned and ran, embarrassed that they might see his tears. How could he have been so dumb, he thought, as to think Kimberly wanted to spend the weekend with him alone?

 

***

 

Kou ran to a nearby amphitheater and sat on the steps while burying his head in his arm. Byakko peeked his head out from Kou’s jacket. “Kou what is it?”

 

“Leave me alone,” Kou said in a muffled voice.

 

Akomaru’s whistle sounded from the amphitheater stage. Kou snapped his head up and rose to his feet as he saw Akomaru standing next to Ring Kanjo in her monster form.

 

Akomaru did not waste time with words. He pointed at Kou, signaling Ring Kanjo to attack. The Gorma sister leapt through the air and arced towards Kou while holding her staff high.

 

Tommy leapt through the air as if from nowhere as he and the other rangers arrived at the scene. Tommy slammed a flying sidekick against the Gorma that sent her stumbling down the stairs as Tommy landed. He looked back at the boy. “Kou, run.”

 

The monster rose to her feet at the stage and glared up at the rangers while Kou ran for cover. “My sisters’ deaths will be avenged!” she shouted up to them.

 

“I don’t think so, drag queen,” Rocky said.

 

“Alright guys,” Tommy said as he and the others readied their wrist braces. “It’s morphin’ time!”

 

“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” they shouted as they connected their morphers. Energy shimmered around them as they transformed into their armor.

 

“Thunder Staffs!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he and the other Rangers armed their red staffs.

 

Kou hid behind a nearby bush as Byakko peaked his head out. “What are you waiting for, Kou?” Byakko asked.

 

Kou nodded and rose to his feet as he readied his golden key and morpher. “Chakra transform, Kiba Power!” He insert his key into his morpher. Golden energy flashed across his body and filled his every pore. His body matured as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

image004Kiba Ranger flipped forward, landed in front of the Power Rangers, and snapped into a fighting stance while facing the Gorma monster. “Heaven Roaring Star, Kiba Ranger!”

 

The White Ranger held his blade back in a fighting stance as he glared at the monster. Byakko spoke for him. “Go back to your master, Gorma, or meet the fate of your sisters!”

 

“Kiba Ranger…” Ring Kanjo hissed. “I believe you mentioned my sisters.” Beams of light extended from the monster and materialized into replicas of the other two Kanjo sisters.

 

“Let’s take care of business, guys,” Dragon Ranger said as the six Rangers rushed into battle.

 

Ring Kanjo mentally ordered the replicas to attack.

 

image007Dragon Ranger and Necklace Kanjo clashed staffs. The Red Ranger used the left end of his weapon to knock her staff down while swinging the right end of his weapon around towards her head.

 

Necklace Kanjo parried the blow and speared her weapon against Dragon Ranger’s chest before swinging her staff upward, bashing the Red Ranger upside the head.

 

Phoenix Ranger moved in towards the right of the monster and swung her staff, but Necklace Kanjo parried the blow and slammed her staff across the Pink Ranger’s helmet.

 

Tenma Ranger, Lion Ranger, and Kirin Ranger charged in a loose fighting formation towards Earring Kanjo. Earring Kanjo armed a double-edged blade and streaked past the Rangers in a blur of motion, slashing her blade across their armor, the double-edged weapon sparking on impact as the Rangers crashed against the ground.

 

image009Kiba Ranger flipped down and snapped into a fighting stance as he faced off with Ring Kanjo.

 

“Call them off!” Byakko shouted.

 

Ring Kanjo merely extended her hand and fired crackling bursts of crimson energy that exploded around Kiba Ranger with bursts of spark as he rolled aside.

 

The White Ranger rolled into a crouched position and sprang through the air, swinging his saber down towards the Gorma while landing.

 

Ring Kanjo slapped the saber away with her staff while spinning and slamming her weapon across the White Ranger’s helmet.

 

A sphere of crackling blue fire suddenly exploded against Ring Kanjo and sent her tumbling across the ground. Akomaru tightened with rage when he saw the attacker - Shadam.

 

With Ring Kanjo’s concentration broken, the replicas of her two sisters vanished.

 

“What are you doing?!” Akomaru shouted to his father.

 

The Triumvirate ignored Akomaru. Shadam glared at Dragon Ranger. “Dragon Ranger…you’re coming with us…”

 

“I don’t think so,” Dragon Ranger said as he twirled his staff into a fighting stance.

 

image010The three Gorma extended their hands and fired crackling tendrils of golden energy. The energy tendrils wrapped around Dragon Ranger and lifted him from his feet, dropping his staff against the ground.

 

The Red Ranger tried to break free from the energy strands, but he could not. He flashed with golden energy and vanished as the Gorma teleported him away.

 

“Tommy!” Phoenix Ranger shouted as she and the others called for him.

 

“Now, Rangers,” Shadam said as he stared down at them. “Don’t get too comfortable. With the sacrifice of your leader...we will awaken the sixth Kidenjuu.”

 

“What?” Tenma Ranger shouted.

 

The Triumvirate blinked away as they stepped backward.

 

***

 

The other four rangers returned to the lair to speak with Kaku. Rocky took a step towards the sensei. “Sensei,” Rocky said. “They have Tommy.”

 

“We have to get him back,” Adam said as he punched his hands together.

 

“And what is this about a sixth Thunderzord?” Billy asked.

 

“Won Tiger,” Kaku explained. “If the Gorma manage to sacrifice Tommy, his energy would be enough to awaken the sixth Kidenjuu.”

 

“No…” Kimberly said. “We won’t let that happen.”

 

“Let’s go,” Rocky said as they ran off.

 

***

 

Shadam held Akomaru up by the boy’s collar. The Gorma could barely keep himself from choking his son to death as Akomaru struggled.

 

The boy clawed at his father’s arms. “Damn you, Shadam!”

 

“You will learn respect.” Shadam backhanded Akomaru across the face. The boy toppled over and crashed to the ground.

 

“You’ve interrupted my every plan,” Akomaru said as he slowly rose to his feet. “But not this time. I know who the Kiba Ranger is.”

 

Akomaru laughed as he ran away.

 

***

 

Kimberly was on the street near her apartment as Kou ran towards her. The boy had his skateboard tucked beneath his right arm. “Did you find him?” Kou asked. “What happened to Tommy?”

 

A public phone rang nearby and startled Kimberly. She hesitated before answering. Akomaru spoke from the other end of the line. “Hello, Phoenix Ranger…”

 

“Akomaru…” Kimberly said.

 

“What?!” Kou said as he grabbed the phone.

 

“Kiba Ranger,” Akomaru said over the phone. “I’ll tell you where Dragon Ranger is.”

 

“Why?” Kou asked.

 

Akomaru hesitated. “My hatred for Shadam runs deeper than my hatred for you.”

 

Kou nodded as he was given directions. Then he ran off.

 

“Kou!” Kimberly shouted as she ran after him.

 

***

 

Tommy was in the mountains outside the city. The teen was tied down with his arms and legs stretched over a demonic symbol etched in the ground. The Gorma Triumvirate stood over him. They were pleased with their prize.

 

“I can’t believe this is the one who single-handedly killed DaiSatan,” Gara said.

 

“He’s as weak as his father,” Shadam said.

 

“Untie me. Then we’ll see who’s weak,” Tommy said.

 

The Gorma heard footsteps close in from the distance. They looked to see Kou and Kimberly run to the scene. “Gorma!” Kou shouted.

 

Shadam clenched his jaw when he saw them approach. “How…” he started to say. The sound of Akomaru’s whistle cut him off. Shadam looked up to a nearby cliff and glared at his son.

 

“I brought them here,” Akomaru said.

 

“Kyonshi!” Shadam shouted with furry.

 

Black-clad grunts dropped to the ground and charged forward towards Kimberly and Kou. The soldiers pounced forward to attack.

 

Kimberly knocked a soldier’s blade away and slammed a knife-hand chop against the grunt’s neck. She slammed an outer crescent kick across a second soldier’s head, knocking the grunt to the ground. She looked back towards Kou. “Run Kou.”

 

Kou nodded and ran for cover.

 

The other teens arrived at the scene and helped Kimberly fight against the Kyonshi. The four rangers were a flurry of kicks and punches and they pushed past the soldiers and closer towards their captured leader.

 

Kou kneeled behind a stone as he looked out to the battle and Tommy. “Dragon Ranger needs me.”

 

“Morph, Kou,” Byakko said.

 

Kou pulled out his key and readied his morpher. “Chakra ignite, Kiba Power!” He inserted his key into his morpher. Energy flashed around him as his body matured and he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

Meanwhile, the rangers knocked past the last of the soldiers.

 

Adam got a better view of Tommy tied down to the symbol. “Tommy…” he said as he readied his morphers. “It’s morphin time!”

 

“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” the four teens shouted as they connected their morphers. Energy shimmered around them as they transformed into their armor and snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Lion Ranger! Heaven Illusion Star, Green!”

 

“Tenma Ranger! Heaven Gravity Star, Blue!”

 

“Kirin Ranger! Heaven Time Star, Yellow!”

 

“Phoenix Ranger! Heaven Wind Star, Pink!”

 

“Power of the stars…” they trailed off, hesitating as they lowered their hands and looked to Tommy.

 

“Rangers!” Byakko shouted as the White Ranger somersaulted forward through the air and landed in front of the team.

 

image014Kiba Ranger snapped into a fighting stance as Byakko shouted. “Heaving Roaring Star, Kiba Ranger!”

 

The White Ranger extended his blade. “Let’s go!” Byakko shouted as the Rangers rushed forward to attack.

 

“Thunder Swords!” Tenma Ranger and Kirin Ranger shouted as they unsheathed their swords and leapt through the air towards Shadam.

 

They swung their blades downward. Shadam grabbed both blades and twisted the swords downward. The villain opened his jaw and spat blue fiery spheres at near point-blank range that exploded against the Rangers’ armor with bursts of spark that knocked them backward.

 

Nearby, Kiba Ranger leapt forward through the air and swung his tiger saber down towards Zydos.

 

image017Zydos knocked the blade aside and grabbed the White Ranger in a tight chokehold. Kiba Ranger lifted his hand and twisted the Gorma’s nose. Zydos winced in pain and lifted the Ranger above his head before tossing him aside like a pile of rags. The White Ranger slammed against the ground and tumbled backward.

 

Meanwhile Lion Ranger and Phoenix Ranger rolled forward towards Gara and rose into crouched positions while arming their Thunder Staffs. The Green and Pink Rangers sprang forward to attack.

 

Gara extended her hand and used her power to summon a wall of moving energy blades. The blades slashed across the Rangers’ armor, exploding on impact and knocking them backward.

 

“No!” Tommy shouted from the ground as he tried to break free from his bindings.

 

The ground suddenly started to shake. The Rangers and Gorma stumbled, trying to keep their balance as rocks and boulders shook free from above and crashed to the ground below. The tremors intensified as cracks formed across the ground. Flames rose from the cracks.

 

***

 

Kaku sat in a meditative pose within the lair. His eyes were closed, and sweat dripped down his brow. He could feel the energy from the tremors in the far-off distance. “Won Tiger…” Kaku whispered.

 

***

 

The tremors slowly stopped as the Gorma regrouped.

 

Shadam whispered an incantation beneath his breath as he extended his hand. A massive torrent of rolling flame burst forth and exploded against the five Rangers, sending them flying backward as flame and spark ripped across their armor.

 

The Rangers crashed against the ground and slowly rolled into crouched defensive positions.

 

Zydos extended his hand and summoned lightning from the air. Lightning struck his fingertips and he whipped the bolt around, slashing it across the five Rangers’ armor, sparking and exploding on impact.

 

Gara whispered an incantation and summoned gale-force winds that slammed against the Rangers and knocked them back.

 

“No!” Tommy shouted again, trying desperately to break free so he could help his friends. “Guys!”

 

The Rangers slowly regrouped.

 

“We have to get Tommy,” Kirin Ranger said.

 

But the Gorma still blocked their path.

 

“It’s finally over, Rangers,” Gara said as she and the other Gorma stalked towards the Rangers. “We win.”

 

“Kiba Ranger,” Zydos growled. “Allow me to finish you off!”

 

Zydos ran forward to attack. But Akomaru blew his whistle, firing a small needle that exploded against the Gorma’s neck. Zydos collapsed as the needle seeped poison through his veins.

 

“Akomaru,” Zydos grumbled. “You fool.”

 

“The Kiba Ranger is mine,” Akomaru said simply.

 

image019The White Ranger rose to his knees and extended his hand. “Kiryoku!” Byakko shouted. Kiba Ranger fired an invisible telekinetic blast that roared forward and blasted against the three Gorma, knocking them backward and out of the way.

 

The Rangers ran to Tommy.

 

Lion Ranger and Tenma Ranger used their Star Cutters to slash his bindings free as Tenma Ranger and Phoenix Ranger helped him to his feet.

 

Tommy glared at the three Gorma as they regrouped. “Alright…it’s time to take care of business.” He readied his morphers. “Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” Energy shimmered around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

“Let’s do it!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he and the others started to charge forward.

 

The ground shook violently again. The Rangers and Gorma stumbled and nearly lost their balance as the quake intensified.

 

“Won Tiger…” Kiba Ranger said quietly as he recognized the significance of the tremors. He ran from the scene.

 

***

 

Energy swirled around Kaku within the lair. He kept his eyes closed and struggled to keep his concentration. “So close…”

 

***

 

The ground stopped again.

 

Shadam and the Gorma charged forward to attack.

 

“Sorry to cut this short,” Dragon Ranger said as he unsheathed his sword. “But we’ve got a zord to find.”

 

The five Rangers raised their Thunder Swords into the air while grasping their Thunder Gems. “Thunderzords, arise!” they shouted as their zords appeared from the skies.

 

“Let’s go,” Dragon Ranger said. They leapt onto their zords and left the area.

 

***

 

The stone column slowly rose to bring Akomaru up to the same level as the Gorma Emperor within the palace. The frustrated boy was trying to rip his wooden mask off.

 

“Get it off!” he shouted. He finally ripped the mask off as the pillar moved closer to the white-robed emperor. “Emperor, Shadam has ruined all my plans! He messes up everything!”

 

The emperor stared silently at Akomaru and did not say a word. Then he started pelting the boy with small wooden pogs. “Fool, fool, fool! You dare to look at me with your face?” Akomaru screamed with annoyance as he put the wooden mask back on. “You should learn some respect.”

 

“He ruined everything!” Akomaru shouted. “Because of Shadam, the Rangers are going to find the sixth Kidenjuu!”

 

The emperor laughed. “Patience…” he said as he slowly moved wooden pogs into different positions on some type of game board. “Everything will move in accordance with the Wheel of Fate. The Wheel turns, and Fate weaves its pattern…”

 

“Fate?”

 

The emperor‘s insane laughter echoed throughout the palace..

 

***

 

“All right guys,” a young Chinese man named Kameo said as he pulled two turtles from his pocket. “There ya go.”

 

Kameo placed the turtles into a small pond surrounded by tall grass. They were in the wilderness outside the city near mountains and hills.

 

The ground suddenly started to shake as streaks of light shot down from the skies, catching Kameo’s attention. Kameo moved to the top of a hill and looked down to a dirt and gravel-filled valley below. The five teens and Kaku were standing there.

 

Kaku nodded to the teens. The rangers raised their Thunder Gems. “Chakra ignite.” Light shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

Kameo dropped his jaw and fell backward at the sight.

 

“Hey,” Kou said as he sprang from the bushes. “Who are you?”

 

“Kameo,” he said as he pointed down towards the Rangers. “Did you see that?!”

 

Byakko peeked his head out from Kou’s jacket. “It’s none of your business.”

 

Kameo screamed and ran. Kou and Byakko chuckled as they watched him flee.

 

“Kou,” Byakko said. “The Rangers are trying to summon the sixth Kidenjuu.”

 

“How?” Kou asked.

 

“It’s…complicated,” Byakko said. “I guess another way of putting it is that they’re about to give birth to the sixth Kidenjuu. It’s never walked this Earth.”

 

“Birth?” Kou asked.

 

Below, the six Rangers and Kaku sat in meditative poses. Kaku instructed his young charges. “Summon the power of your Kidenjuu,” Kaku said as the skies turned black.

 

The ground started to shake, and the wind began to howl as crimson lightning streaked down from the clouds. The five Thunderzords appeared in the distance. Each zord radiated with energy.

 

Kaku and the Rangers slowly started to hover above the ground. The Thunder Gems flashed with light and shot up towards the skies.

 

***

 

Akomaru slowly walked through an abandoned warehouse. He opened the door to a back chamber and moved into a dimly-lit room. A woman bound in chains was inside the room. The woman was Kou’s mother.

 

“It’s almost time,” he said to her. “The Kiba Ranger will be one of us soon, and there’s nothing you can do about.”

 

***

 

The Thunderzords flew through the air and emitted crackling bolts of crimson energy that tore apart the ground, and streaks of flame erupted from the earth. Fire started to rage around the Rangers as they struggled to maintain their concentration.

 

Sweat dripped down their brows beneath their helmets as they closed their eyes tightly. The flames intensified.

 

Then with one final explosion, the White Tiger Thunderzord was born. The fire and skies cleared. A white-armored tiger roared in the distance and slowly rose onto its four feet.

 

The Rangers stood and looked at the White Tiger.

 

“It’s sweet!” Tenma Ranger said.

 

“Yeah,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

Kaku nodded. “It is your sixth Thunderzord, the White Tiger.”

 

Kou looked to Byakko while on the nearby hill. The boy’s eyes were open wide with excitement. “Is that it?” Byakko said yes, and a large smile spread on Kou’s face.

 

White Tiger rose and ran forward, its four legs pumping with newfound power and strength. The zord suddenly stumbled and slid onto its back.

 

Kou raised an eyebrow and looked to Byakko. “What’s wrong with him?”

 

“He’s a newborn,” Byakko explained. “Now…the White Tiger needs a pilot.”

 

Kou nodded and armed his morpher. “Chakra ignite, Kiba Power!” He inserted his key into his wrist brace as energy shimmered around him. His body matured as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

image023Kiba Ranger somersaulted forward through the air and landed on top of a taller hill. A streak of white light shot from the skies and landed in the White Ranger’s hand before pulsing and flashing with power.

 

“What the…?” Kiba Ranger said as he looked at the small crystal in his hand.

 

“That’s your Heaven Star Thunder Gem,” Byakko explained. “Now let’s go!”

 

Kiba Ranger somersaulted forward through the air and landed on top of the White Tiger. The White Ranger looked down to the others as Byakko spoke. “Power Rangers!” Byakko shouted. “Won Tiger now belongs to the Kiba Ranger!”

 

“Hey!” Tenma Ranger shouted. “We didn’t go through all that for you to swipe our zord!”

 

“What does he think he’s doing?” Lion Ranger asked.

 

“They do seem like a good match,” Kirin Ranger said. The others stared at him.

 

Kaku’s eyes were fixed on the White Ranger and his zord. “Kou…” he said silently.

 

Kiba Ranger held his saber forward as the zord ran further into the mountains. A giant-sized Ring Kanjo approached from the distance. Kiba Ranger smiled beneath his helmet. “Let’s get into action, Won Tiger.”

 

Ring Kanjo extended her staff and fired bolts of crimson energy that exploded around the new zord.

 

Kiba Ranger dropped into the cockpit embedded in the zord’s armor.

 

“White Tiger!” Kiba Ranger shouted. “Vibro Blast!”

 

The zord blurred with sonic energy that shot forward, tearing through the mountains and exploding against Ring Kanjo.

 

image025 “White Tiger, rise up!” Kiba Ranger shouted as he inserted his tiger saber into the control console in front of him.

 

The White Tiger crackled with energy and started to change shape. The zord transformed into a humanoid-shaped warrior, the head of the tiger was on the zord’s chest, and the golden tail formed a curved blade.

 

“Tiger Punch!” Kiba Ranger shouted as the zord copied his movements. White Tiger crashed a punch against the giant Gorma.

 

“Tiger Kick!” White Tiger slammed a kick against the Gorma’s midsection. The blow sent her crashing against the ground and rolling backward.

 

“Finish her Kou!” Byakko yelled.

 

Kiba Ranger nodded. He took a crystal from the wall behind him and inserted it into his forward control panel. “White Tiger Fire Bolt!”

 

The tiger mouth on the zord flashed with energy and shot bolts of fiery power that exploded against Ring Kanjo, sparks ripping across her body upon impact. Ring Kanjo crashed to the ground again.

 

“That’ll teach you!” Kiba Ranger shouted.

 

“I’m not through yet, you little whelp,” Ring Kanjo said as she slowly rose to her feet. She extended her arms and projected replicas of her two sisters.

 

The three Gorma charged forward. Necklace Kanjo and Earring Kanjo spun past the White Tiger while slashing their blades across the zord’s armor. Ring Kanjo swung her staff down towards the zord’s head.

 

White Tiger used the golden saber to block the blow and twist the staff downward. But the other two Kanjo sisters extended their hands and fired crimson energy bolts that exploded against the zord, sparks tearing against armor as White Tiger crashed to the ground, reverting back to its tiger form as Kiba Ranger was thrown from the cockpit.

 

Kiba Ranger rolled across the dirt near a small area of trees as energy shimmered around him, and he demorphed.

 

“That didn’t go very well, did it,” Byakko said.

 

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Kou said.

 

Kou rose to his feet as he heard the familiar sound of Akomaru’s whistle nearby. He turned to see Kyonshi pulling two chariots through the wilderness. Akomaru sat in the lead chariot. The second chariot was covered in a black cloth.

 

Kou’s muscles tightened. “Akomaru…”

 

Akomaru stepped from the chariot. “I have a present for you,” he said to Kou as he stepped back to the second chariot. He pulled the black cloth away. Kou’s mother was inside, bound and gagged. “Perhaps you know her.”

 

Kou’s eyes opened wide as his breath caught in his throat. “Mother…” he whispered. “Mother!”

 

“Kou!” she called in a muffled voice.

 

Kou ran towards the chariot.

 

“Back!” Akomaru extended his hand and fired an invisible Kiryoku burst that slammed against Kou and knocked the boy backward. Kou crashed onto his tailbone.

 

Akomaru stalked towards the fallen boy. “I’ll give her back to you if you join me. The two of us can kill Shadam and the emperor…then we will rule.”

 

“Go to hell!” Kou shouted as he sprang forward and pushed Akomaru aside.

 

Kou moved towards the chariot and grabbed it, quickly turning it around and running towards the distance. Kyonshi leapt towards Kou and grabbed him, lifting him off his feet and tossing him back onto the ground.

 

“Be that way,” Akomaru said. He extended his hand towards the chariot. An invisible strand of energy lifted Kou’s mother and dragged her away through the air.

 

“No!” Kou shouted as he ran after her. “Mother!”

 

Kou made it to a clearing near the mountains, but he was too late. His mother was gone. Kou turned and clenched his jaw when he heard Akomaru’s laughter come from behind. “Bring her back!”

 

Akomaru smirked.

 

Kou pounced forward and grabbed Akomaru by the collar. “Bring her back!” Kou slammed a hook punch across the Gorma’s face.

 

***

 

The White Tiger rose to its four legs and charged forward towards the three Kanjo sisters. The Red Dragon warrior leapt down from the Thunder Chariot and landed on the White Tiger’s back to ride the zord.

 

Red Dragon extended its staff like a spear as the zords charged forward to attack. The staff speared against each Gorma like a lance, knocking them backward and sending them crashing to the ground.

 

***

 

Kou unloaded all his anger with every punch that slammed across Akomaru’s face. First the Gorma had pretended to be Miko, then they kidnapped Tommy, then his mother…his mother! Kou was tired of games.

 

Kou swung harder, his own knuckles bleeding and broken.

 

The battle above shook the ground, and massive boulders started falling towards the two fighting boys. Kou and Akomaru leapt out of the way, but Akomaru did not make it in time. Akomaru screamed as a boulder crushed against the lower half of his body, pinning his back to the ground.

 

“Akomaru!” Kou yelled as he ran towards the Gorma’s side and leaned down next to him. “Where is she?”

 

“Kou…” Akomaru said, his voice struggling for air.

 

“My mother,” Kou said. He frantically tried to move the boulder, but it was too heavy. “Where is she?”

 

“You idiot,” Akomaru said. His voice was weak and broken. “Why do you care...she abandoned you…just as my mother abandoned me.”

 

“No…” Kou whispered. “She-” His own feelings nearly choked him, cutting off his sentence as his eyes started to water.

 

“Admit it,” Akomaru said. “We’re more the same than you’ll admit, Kiba Ranger.”

 

“No…” Kou said, his emotions knotting his stomach.

 

“Yes…more than you know,” Akomaru rolled his eyes back and died.

 

“Akomaru!” Kou shouted, tears streaming down his cheeks.

 

image027Kou buried his head in his arm and cried. His mother. Akomaru. Abandonment. Kou was alone.

 

“Kou,” Byakko said. “The Rangers need your help.”

 

Kou wiped his tears and slowly rose to his feet while arming his wrist brace and key. “Chakra! Ignite! Kiba! Power!” He inserted his key into his morpher. Golden energy shimmered around him as his body matured and he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

Kiba Ranger lifted his saber into the air. “White Tiger!”

 

The white-armored zord roared and rose to its hind legs, knocking the Red Dragon from its back. The White Tiger dashed forward. Kiba Ranger somersaulted through the air and entered his zord’s cockpit.

 

“White Tiger! Rise up!” he shouted, inserting his saber into his console. The White Tiger crackled with energy and started to change shape. The zord transformed into a humanoid-shaped warrior. The head of the tiger was on the zord’s chest, and the golden tail formed a curved blade.

 

“Kou,” Byakko said. “Your zord can combine with the four other Kidenjuu to create the MegaTigerzord, Kiba Daiou!!”

 

The White Ranger thrust his hands forward. “Kiba Fusion!”

 

image029The Lion, Tenma, Kirin, and Phoenix crackled with energy and shot towards the White Tiger. The lion formed shoulder armor while wrapping around the zord’s back. The Tenma and Kirin formed the Megazord’s legs as the Phoenix became an arm-mounted weapon.

 

Lion Ranger, Phoenix Ranger, Tenma Ranger, and Kirin Ranger joined Kiba Ranger in the zord’s cockpit. “MegaTigerzord… Kiba Daiou!”

 

The three Gorma sisters fired crimson energy bursts that exploded against the MegaTigerzord. MegaTigerzord walked through the explosions while sparks tore across its armor.

 

“MegaTigerzord!” the Rangers shouted. “Grand-Phoenix Crash!”

 

The Phoenix extended its wings and shot towards the three monsters. Fiery energy twisted around the Phoenix at it streaked through the monsters, piercing through each of them. Explosions tore apart the three Gorma as they collapsed to the ground, their own energy overloading and exploding.

 

***

 

Kou sat quietly on the pier. He thought of his mother as tears streamed down his cheeks.

 

To be continued…Chapter 13