Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Seventeen

The Digging Ground

 

Kou raced through the park on his skateboard while heading away from Kimberly’s apartment. He weaved in and out of pedestrian traffic on the wide brick path as Kimberly chased after him on foot.

 

“Kou! Get back here!” she yelled.

 

Kou looked back at her while racing forward, a mischievous grin on his face. “You’ll have to run faster than that!”

 

Kimberly sighed as she kept moving forward. Rocky was nearby on a jog when he spotted Kimberly chasing after Kou. Rocky smiled. “The more things change…”

 

He jogged after them.

 

Kou skid his skateboard to a stop when he heard someone calling his name from the distance. The voice seemed faint but gradually became clearer. “Kou…Kou!”

 

It was his mother.

 

“Mother!” he threw down the skateboard and ran towards the voice. “Mother!” he shouted again. But the voice vanished with a small gust of wind.

 

Kimberly and Rocky ran over to the boy. “Kou what’s wrong?” Kimberly asked.

 

“She was here! She was here!” he shouted.

 

A kid was riding his bike along a path nearby. A fishhook suddenly shot out as if from nowhere and snagged the kid off his bike. He screamed while the hook dragged him through the air.

 

“What the hell?” Rocky yelled as he, Kimberly, and Kou ran after the kid.

 

The three rangers skid to a halt. A man dressed in ragged brown robes stood on a hill above. He was dressed in a circular straw hat shaped like a bowl. He was the Gorma called Hayakuchi Tabigarasu, the Fast-Talking Player.

 

“Who’s this goon?” Rocky asked.

 

“I am but a fisherman…a fisher of souls to put to work…” the man said.

 

“Kou, run,” Kimberly said as Kou ran for cover. She looked to Rocky and readied her morpher. “It’s morphin time.”

 

“Right,” he said.

 

“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” They connected their braces. Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

“Kyonshi!” the Gorma yelled. A group of the black-clad soldiers appeared and charged forward to attack.

 

Tenma Ranger slammed a tornado kick against a grunt’s head and spun forward, crashing a sidekick against a second soldier’s chest.

 

The Blue Ranger turned while flipping a soldier over his shoulder and roundhouse kicked another grunt aside with a swift blow to the head. The Rangers had battling Kyonshi down to a science. Sometimes Tenma Ranger thought he could fight the grunts in his sleep.

 

A soldier rushed towards the Pink Ranger’s back. Phoenix Ranger slammed her elbow against the grunt’s chest while looking forward at a second approaching grunt.

 

The Pink Ranger snapped her leg around in an outer crescent kick that bashed the soldier across the head.

 

Kou ducked behind a bush nearby. Byakko peaked out from the boy’s jacket. “Kou,” Byakko said. “Transform.”

 

Kou rose to his feet and readied his key and wrist brace. “Chakra ignite, Kiba Power!” Kou inserted his key into his morpher. Light flashed around him as his body matured and he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

Nearby, Phoenix Ranger backflipped while smashing a soldier upside the head. She moved in low and swept kicked the legs out from underneath a second soldier. Phoenix Ranger rose back to full height just in time to slam an outer crescent kick against an approaching grunt.

 

Another soldier pounced forward and swung his staff towards the Pink Ranger’s head. Phoenix Ranger knocked the staff away and slammed the back of her fist across the grunt’s face.

 

The last three soldiers charged towards Tenma Ranger. He knocked them aside one by one while dashing past them with an inner crescent kick, outer crescent kick, and sweep kick.

 

Kiba Ranger leapt forward and somersaulted through the air. He landed while swinging his palms down like claws, slashing across Tabigarasu’s body and knocking him backward, sending him tumbling across the ground.

 

The other two Rangers regrouped around the White Ranger. “Kiba Ranger,” Tenma Ranger said. “Not bad for the newest Ranger on the block.”

 

Byakko laughed, speaking for the White Ranger. “I do try.”

 

The other Rangers arrived at the scene on their Thunder Cycles. The Rangers hopped off their bikes and regrouped with the others as the Gorma pulled himself to his feet..

 

“This guy doesn’t look so tough,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

“We’ve seen worse,” Kirin Ranger said.

 

The Gorma’s body rippled into his monster form. His head and upper body resembled a radio-style microphone. The villain pulled pipe bombs from his belt and started pelting the Rangers with the bombs.

 

Pipe bombs exploded against the Rangers’ armor with bursts of sparks that sent them flying backward.

 

“This is ridiculous,” Lion Ranger said as the team climbed to its feet.

 

A flat bomb that stuck to Kiba Ranger like a sticker slapped across his chest armor. The bomb exploded, knocking him upward with a violent explosion. The blast forcibly demorphed Kou and tossed him into nearby tree branches.

 

Kou’s morpher and tiger saber dropped as Kou hung from a branch by his backpack. “Kimberly! Help me down!”

 

The Rangers looked up, their bodies frozen in shock. Phoenix Ranger shook her head. “Kou…” Phoenix Ranger said as she stared up at him. “You…?”

 

“He’s the Kiba Ranger?!” Tenma Ranger said.

 

“Get me down!” Kou yelled.

 

Tabigarasu snapped his fishing rod forward, lashing out with a line and hook that snagged Kou by the shirt. The Gorma pulled Kou through the air and snapped the boy towards the distance. Kou and the monster blinked out of sight.

 

“Kou!” Phoenix Ranger shouted.

 

***

 

Rocky slammed Kou’s morpher and Byakko down on Kaku’s meditation platform and leaned forward to talk to his sensei. “I can’t believe it!” Rocky said. “Why didn’t he tell us?!”

 

“He couldn’t!” Byakko said. The teens each took a step back in shock as they stared down at the talking saber. “His identity had to remain guarded! Otherwise…the Gorma would find him.”

 

“You can talk?” Tommy asked.

 

“Fascinating,” Billy said.

 

“I am Byakkoshinken,” he said. “I was chosen to assist the Kiba Ranger!”

 

Light in the lair suddenly dimmed as a gust of wind carried a voice towards the corner. The light flickered again as a ghostly image appeared sitting on her knees. It was Kou’s mother.

 

“Byakko…” she said while looking at the saber.

 

“Who…?” Tommy started to ask her.

 

“That,” Byakko said. “Is Kou’s mother.”

 

Her image flickered as she keeled over in pain. “You must find my son…and he must find me…it’s imperative that he finds me before his 11th birthday.”

 

“Why then?” Kimberly asked.

 

She shook her head. “Because Kou is half Gorma…that evil energy burns inside of him, and on his birthday, not even the tiger brand I placed on his arm will be able to contain that energy…”

 

“Why did you leave him in the first place?” Rocky asked as he narrowed his eyes.

 

“Rocky…” Tommy said as he placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder.

 

“I had to...After I gave birth to Kou, I fled from the Gorma, as far as I could. Then, years later, the power within Kou started to flare. I knew that the Gorma sensed it and would investigate, but he was too young to be permanently sealed, so I used the tiger brand as a temporary solution and fled, in hopes of keeping the Gorma away from Kou. I also instilled within him a desire to find me so that I could rid the evil from him forever. But…the Gorma found me first.”

 

She flinched in pain again. “You must save my son. He must find me!”

 

Her image vanished.

 

***

 

The teens walked out of the Nexus subway station that sat on the city streets above their lair. “Half Gorma?” Rocky asked as he shook his head. “How do we know that that whole speel was real?”

 

“Sensei seemed to think so,” Tommy said. “And it matches what we already knew.”

 

“Which was not a whole lot,” Rocky said.

 

“Why his 11th birthday?” Adam asked.

 

“The Gorma say the age 11 is the closest to hell,” Billy said.

 

Kimberly shook her head, her gaze distant. “We have to find Kou.”

 

A blur of motion flipped through the air over the teens and landed on a small roof nearby. The teens snapped into fighting stances, but dropped their guard when they saw who it was.

 

“You let your guard down, Dairanger,” the man said.

 

“Uncle!” Kimberly called. It was Gohun.

 

***

 

Kou and the captured children were in a rock quarry in China. The Four Deva Kings battered against drums, forcing the kids to dig with the beat. Their bodies were dirty and drenched with sweat. The sound of the drums forced them to dig with shovels and pitches.

 

The four ancients whispered incantations as they slammed the drums faster. A group of Kyonshi stood guard around the kids.

 

The Gorma Triumvirate stood on a small cliff and watched the kids dig. “Work faster!” Zydos shouted down to them.

 

One of the girls collapsed, too tired to work anymore. A Kyonshi moved towards her with a whip in hand. Kou narrowed his eyes and clenched his jaw at the sight. “Stop!” he shouted as he pounced forward and slammed against the Kyonshi, knocking the soldier aside.

 

Kou lifted a shovel to beat against the Kyonshi, but a hand grabbed the shovel and pushed Kou aside. It was Shadam. Shadam lifted Kou by the shirt.

 

“Learn some respect,” Shadam said. Then he recognized Kou. “You know the Rangers. You must know…who is the Kiba Ranger…”

 

Kou spit in Shadam’s face.

 

Shadam slapped the back of his hand across Kou’s face, knocking the boy to the ground. Shadam turned and faced Tabigarasu. “You,” he said to the Gorma fisher. “I need more.”

 

***

 

Kimberly returned to her apartment with the other rangers and her uncle Gohun. Her uncle set a large cardboard box onto the kitchen table and started to pry it open.

 

“What are you doing here?” Kimberly asked.

 

“I brought you a gift,” he said as he took various metal parts from the box. “Some assembly is required…it’s the Kiryoku Bazooka.”

 

“Bazooka?” Tommy said as he held up a part.

 

“Yes,” Gohun said. “It can be powered with your five Thunder Gems...or all seven…”

 

“Seven?” Kimberly asked. “There’s only six.”

 

“No,” Gohun said as he started to fit some pieces together. “There is a seventh…but it’s unlike the others.”

 

“How so?” Billy asked.

 

The uncle held up his hands. “It’s a little…bigger.” He chuckled.

 

Billy knitted his brow. His mind flashed back to the crystal Kameo had found. “Could it be….” Billy said quietly as he ran off.

 

***

 

Billy ran down the street towards Kameo’s apartment. He ran up the stairwell to the floor where Kameo lived. He entered the main corridor and moved over to Kameo’s room. The ranger burst into the door.

 

Billy saw Kameo huddled in a corner with a blanket wrapped around him. He was staring down at the crystal on the ground with eyes wide open with fear.

 

“Kameo…what’s wrong? Kameo!” Billy asked as he crouched down next to the older teen.

 

Kameo shook his head. “That crystal…it changed me…”

 

***

 

More children at the park were being snagged by the Gorma monster’s fishing line. The villain stalked through the park with the fishing rod slung over his shoulder.

 

“You!” Tommy shouted as he, Adam, Rocky, and Kimberly arrived at the scene and snapped into fighting stances. “You have five seconds to tell us where you’ve taken all those kids.”

 

The monster tilted his head as he looked at the Rangers with amusement. “Or what?”

 

“Or things will get very ugly…it’s morphin time!”

 

“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” the four shouted. They connected their braces as energy shimmered around them and they morphed into their armor.

 

***

 

“How could you have lost it?” Billy asked Kameo as they rummaged through some tall grass.

 

“It turned me into a turtle,” Kameo said. “I threw it out.”

 

The green, flashing gem had wrapped Kameo with a shell of energy. When the energy faded, Kameo had transformed. Into a turtle. The transformation had lasted for more than 12 hours.

 

Billy communicator toned. Tommy’s voice came through. “Billy, we could use your help, pal.”

 

***

 

The Rangers charged forward to attack.

 

The Gorma used its rod-like a whip to lash the Red Ranger across the chest. Lion Ranger snapped a roundkick that the Gorma blocked before smacking the Green Ranger across the helmet with the rod. Tenma Ranger launched forward with a flying crescent kick that the monster ducked under. The villain rose back to his feet and slashed Phoenix Ranger across the chest.

 

The Rangers regrouped and kept their stances low as they faced off with the monster.

 

Kirin Ranger leapt onto the scene.

 

“Thunder Staffs!” Dragon Ranger shouted as the five Rangers charged forward to attack.

 

Tabigarasu snapped a fishing line and snagged the rods from the Rangers’ hand.

 

“Hey!” Dragon Ranger shouted as the monster laughed.

 

The Rangers rolled to the side and reached for their sidearms. “Thunder Blasters!” they shouted and aimed their weapons forward.

 

The Gorma snagged the blasters away too.

 

“Star Blades!” they shouted and armed their ring-shaped weapons.

 

The Gorma struck faster than the Rangers could attack. The villain snapped a rod line that snagged the weapons from the Rangers’ hands.

 

“That’s pretty much it for our weapons,” Tenma Ranger said.

 

“Let’s bomb him!” Dragon Ranger said.

 

The Rangers lifted their hands into the air and gathered spheres of blue energy between their palms. “Bomber…set…Kiryoku…Bomber!” They hurled the spheres forward. The energy blasts combined into a single rolling sphere of golden energy that shot towards the villain.

 

The Gorma used its rod to deflect the blast back at the Rangers. The energy sphere exploded against the Rangers’ chests and knocked them backward.

 

***

 

Kameo kept wading through the tall grass. He spotted the crystal through the corner of his eye. “There it is!”

 

Kameo reached forward and grabbed the crystal. Green energy pulsed from the gem and into his body as soon as he touched it. The energy entered his every pore and shrank him while transforming him. Into a turtle.

 

***

 

The kids kept digging in the rock quarry as the ancients pounded their drums. Kou wiped sweat from his forehead and slammed his pitchfork against the ground again. The blow knocked loose a stone.

 

A stream of mist suddenly erupted. The kids jumped back, some of them screaming.

 

The Gorma Triumvirate shoved past the kids and walked towards the steam. Their eyes opened wide with excitement. Shadam thrust his hand into the fog. Lines of pale blue energy danced around his hand as soon as it entered the fog.

 

“This is it,” Shadam said.

 

“Back to work!” Zydos shouted at the children. “Faster!”

 

The kids kept digging.

 

***

 

The Rangers rose to their knees as the monster laughed at them. “I’m surprised you five have lasted as long against the Gorma as you have.”

 

The villain pulled another pipe bomb from his belt and tossed the device forward.

 

“That’s it,” Dragon Ranger said as he caught the bomb and leapt towards the creature.

 

Dragon Ranger landed behind the villain and wrapped his arms around the Gorma while holding the bomb to the villain’s chest. The bomb exploded with a violent blast that knocked the monster and Red Ranger backward.

 

“Tommy!” Phoenix Ranger called out as she ran to his side.

 

The monster rose back to its feet and unsheathed a thin sword. Phoenix Ranger turned to face the villain. She placed her fist against her palm as the Phoenix eyes on her helmet flashed with blue energy.

 

“Heaven Wind Star! Whirl-wind destruction!” she shouted as she extended her hand forward. She shot a twirling gust of pink energy from her palm that exploded against the creature while blowing him off his feet.

 

The villain slowly stumbled back up off the ground before blinking away.

 

***

 

The teens limped into Kimberly’s apartment. Gohun was slowly building the bazooka on the kitchen table. He chuckled when he saw the rangers walk in. “You look like you all have had fun,” he said jokingly as he cracked his neck.

 

“How’s that weapon coming?” Tommy asked.

 

Gohun sighed. “It’s in about as good of shape as you five.” He chuckled and cracked his neck again.

 

Rocky crossed his arms over his chest. “Even I have the decency to stop joking at times like this. Well…at least most times.”

 

Kimberly sat on the coach and rubbed here eyes. Tommy sat down next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you alright?”

 

“I’m worried about Kou…if something happens to him…I’ll never forgive myself…”

 

“We’ll find him…” Tommy said. He pulled Kimberly close and kissed her on the forehead.

 

Billy headed towards the apartment door.

 

“Where are you going?” Adam asked.

 

“The seventh Thunder Gem,” Billy said. “There’s this guy I know, Kameo, and I’m almost 100 percent sure he has it. I need to find him.”

 

Adam nodded. “Be careful.”

 

***

 

“What’s going on?” Kameo asked as he crawled around in his turtle form. “This is madness!”

 

Billy ran across the field of grass while searching for his friend. “Kameo!”

 

“Billy!” Kameo yelled, but he could not be heard. Kameo tried to crawl over to the teen but accidentally flipped onto his back. “Ah…help, help!”

 

***

 

The four ancients continued to drum and whisper incantations as the children dug into the ground. Steam started shooting from various cracks and crevices. The Gorma triumvirate laughed as they walked through the steam.

 

“Faster!” Zydos yelled.

 

The ancients started to beat the drum faster. Their incantations grew louder. Their voices urged the kids to work faster. Harder. Each kid was out of breath. Each was aching with fatigue, including Kou.

 

The young ranger clenched his jaw. He let the pain and fatigue fuel his anger. His pitchfork suddenly struck a metal plate. The plate had strange, intricate symbols engraved on it.

 

Zydos heard the sound and pushed Kou away. “This is it!” Zydos yelled.

 

“Move!” Shadam shouted as he forced the kids out of the way. He fired orange electric blasts onto the plate, causing the ground to explode and energy streams to rise up.

 

***

 

The teens were back in the lair with their sensei. The wave of power from the rock quarry reached them even there. One of the green hovering spheres in the lair exploded, causing a series of sparking explosions to rip around the room.

 

***

 

“Are you alright?” Tommy asked Kaku as he helped his sensei to his feet.

 

“This can only mean one thing,” Kaku said as he stared at the sphere. “The Gorma are trying to open one of the gates to hell.”

 

“Huh?” Rocky asked.

 

Kaku nodded. “In China, the Gorma originally established the gate in order to try and unleash the demons from within. It gave them great powers…and it must have taken extreme labor to uncover the gates.”

 

“All those kids…” Tommy said. “Do you think…?”

 

“Yes,” Kaku said. “And I am sure Kou is with them. You must take your Kidenjuu to the gates. I will guide you to the exact location through our Kiryoku.”

 

Tommy nodded. “Alright…let’s get going.”

 

The teens ran out as Byakko shouted to them. “Aren’t you forgetting something!”

 

Tommy kneeled over and picked up the saber. “Sorry,” he said as he ran off with Byakko.

 

***

 

The teens ran to the rocky shore looking out upon the ocean. They armed their wrist braces.

 

“It’s morphin’ time!” Tommy shouted.

 

“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” they shouted. They connected their braces. Energy flashed around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

They unsheathed their swords and held the blades towards the air while grasping their Thunder Gems. “Thunderzords, arise!”

 

The five zords appeared in the distance. The Rangers used their Thunder Blasters like grappling hooks to reel themselves onto their zords. The Thunderzords sped off over the ocean.

 

***

 

Kou and the others were tied to tall posts above the rock quarry. Kou glared down at the Gorma Triumvirate below. “If you’re through, let us go!”

 

“No!” Shadam yelled. “The Rangers are coming…you will make good distractions.”

 

The kids saw the Thunderzords approach in the far-off distance. A smile crossed Kou’s face. “Kimberly…”

 

The Triumvirate turned to face the zords. “Rangers…” Shadam cursed. The three Gorma placed their hands in front of their faces and blinked out of site.

 

A giant, ghostly image of Shadam’s face suddenly appeared above Red Dragon. Shadam blew a gust of wind that exploded against Dragon Ranger’s armor and knocked him off the zord.

 

One by one, ghostly images of Gara and Zydos flicked the other four Rangers off of their zords. The Rangers went falling downward and crashed against the ground below.

 

Kou shouted down to them. “Rangers! Get us down!”

 

“Kou!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he and the others starting running up along the quarry wall. The Gorma Triumvirate appeared in front of the Rangers in the blink of an eye.

 

“You won’t be saving anyone today,” Shadam said as he placed his hand in front of his face. The villain crackled with energy as a thin sheet of metal armor wrapped around his skin.

 

Shadam expanded, growing giant. The villain looked down at the Rangers and extended his palm, launching a fiery energy blast that exploded against the ground, igniting a massive sphere of flame that slammed against the Rangers and knocked them backward.

 

Dragon Ranger slowly rose to his feet and raised his Thunder Sword towards the skies. “Red Dragon!”

 

Red Dragon swooped downward towards its tamer. Dragon Ranger used his Thunder Blaster like a grappling hook to reel himself onto his zord. Red Ranger hopped into the cockpit embedded within the zord’s armor.

 

“Red Dragon, rise up!” Dragon Ranger shouted. Red Dragon crackled with tendrils of crimson energy and assumed his humanoid warrior form. The zord landed and faced off with Shadam.

 

Shadam armed his bony sword and charged forward to attack. The villain swung forward while slicing Dragon Ranger across the chest. The villain turned and slashed twice in an x-shaped pattern, his blade sparking against the zord’s armor upon impact.

 

Red Dragon was forced a few steps back but still managed to pounce forward and attack. The zord swung a kick towards Shadam that slammed against the villain’s side. Shadam grabbed the zord’s leg, lifted Red Dragon from the ground while hurling him backward and tossed him through the air.

 

Red Dragon crashed against the ground and slid backward while tearing through rock and dirt.

 

Below, Zydos and Gara launched tendrils of energy that snaked around the other four Rangers and burst across their chests with a violent series of sparks and explosions.

 

Meanwhile, Shadam extended his hands and created a field of energy daggers that struck against Red Dragon, sparking across the zord‘s armor.

 

Below, Gara and Zydos extended their hands and launched fiery blue energy pulses that exploded against the Rangers’ armor and knocked them backward. The two Gorma stalked towards the fallen Rangers.

 

“Come on, guys,” Lion Ranger said as he and the others climbed back to their feet. “We have to keep fighting.”

 

Kirin Ranger spotted their weapons in the distance. “Look,” he said to the others as he pointed to the weapon pile.

 

Lion Ranger leapt forward through the air and somersaulted towards the weapons. Gara extended her hand and emitted an energy lasso that wrapped around the Green Ranger’s leg. The Gorma snapped Lion Ranger backward and slammed him back against the ground.

 

“Adam!” Tenma Ranger shouted as he and the others ran to their friend’s side. They helped the Green Ranger to his feet.

 

Zydos extended his hand towards the sky. His palm pulsed with blue energy as a black cloud formed above. Lightning struck down from the cloud and exploded around the four Rangers with massive blasts of rolling flame.

 

Above, Shadam charged towards Red Dragon with his sword held high.

 

“You won’t win that easily!” Dragon Ranger shouted as his zord twirled a black staff into a fighting position.

 

Red Dragon spun forward, slamming his staff upside Shadam’s chest, sending the villain stumbling backward. Red Dragon dashed forward and slammed a pole-vault kick against the villain’s chest. Shadam went flying backward.

 

Dragon Ranger turned his zord back towards the hell gate. “It’s time to shut that gate down for business. Go, Red Dragon!”

 

Red Dragon whirled his staff like a helicopter blade. The staff created a torrent of wind that picked up rubble and boulders, covering the hell gate with a sheet of stone and dirt.

The Gorma Triumvirate blinked away.

 

“That’s a shame,” Tenma Ranger said as he and the others rose to their feet. “I had them right where I wanted them.”

 

Dragon Ranger leapt downward and joined his teammates on the ground. The five Rangers dashed forward towards their weapons. But the Gorma monster Tabigarasu appeared and blocked the Rangers’ path.

 

The monster tossed a handful of pipe bombs towards the Rangers. The Rangers leapt forward, grabbed the bombs, and tossed them right back at the Gorma monster. The bombs exploded against the villain and knocked him backward.

 

The Gorma crashed backward and rolled back into a crouched position while arming his fishing rod. Tabigarasu snapped off a hooked line that slashed across the Rangers’ armor like a whip, sparking on impact. The Rangers crashed backward.

 

“I’m over it!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he rose to his feet with Byakko in hand. “Byakko, do your thing!”

 

“Ha!” Byakko shouted as Dragon Ranger hurled the saber forward. The tiger saber speared against the monster, sparking on impact, knocking the villain backward.

 

With the Gorma out of the way, the Rangers ran over to their staffs and blades.

 

***

 

Gohun wiped his hands across his shirt. “Finally…”

 

The massive bazooka was shaped like the head of a dragon. Gohun used his Kiryoku to hover the weapon above the table. The bazooka transformed into a streak of blue energy that shot into the distance.

 

***

 

The bazooka materialized above the Rangers as they stood in formation. The bazooka slowly lowered. Lion Ranger, Tenma Ranger, Kirin Ranger, and Phoenix Ranger stood on the sides of the weapon. They inserted their Star Cutters into the bazooka’s casing to hold the weapon.

 

Dragon Ranger kneeled and held the large barrel over his shoulder. “Our Thunder Gems,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

“Right,” Phoenix Ranger said as she loaded each of the Rangers’ gems.

 

The bazooka whined with energy as the Rangers aimed forward.

 

“Kiryoku Bazooka,” Dragon Ranger said. “Fire!” the bazooka nearly blasted itself out of the Rangers’ hands as it fired a massive discharge of energy. The energy blast streaked forward, a comet of power as it exploded through the Gorma, incinerating the villain with a massive explosion of spark and flame.

 

***

 

The teens returned to their normal forms and freed the children. Kou wrapped his arms around Kimberly, and she hugged him back.

 

“Thank you,” he said as he pulled away and looked to each of the rangers.

 

“So you’re the mighty Kiba Ranger, huh?” Rocky said as he tasseled Kou’s hair. “You sure had us surprised.”

 

Kou grinned with pride.

 

“I have an old friend of yours here,” Tommy said as he walked over to Kou and handed Byakko to the boy.

 

“Byakko!” Kou said as he grasped his saber.

 

“Kou!” the saber exclaimed. “You idiot….you’ve gotten me all choked up.”

 

Kimberly’s gaze drifted to the tiger tattoo on Kou’s arm. A worried look crossed her face as she remembered the words of Kou’s mother.

 

“Kou is half Gorma…that evil energy burns inside of him, and on his birthday, not even the tiger brand I placed on his arm will be able to contain that energy…”

 

***

 

The crystal flashed, and Kameo returned to his human form. He tried to run away from the crystal, but it followed him while hovering through the air.

 

***

 

Hours later, back at the gates, the Gorma Emperor floated down towards the rock-covered gate itself. The white-robed emperor hovered on a thin slab of concrete. He leaned forward and pulled out a small fishing rod.

 

The emperor slowly cast a line that slithered around the rocks and boulders covering the gates. The line pierced through the gates, crossing dimensional boundaries, into the fiery pits below.

 

A hand reached up and grabbed the wire.

 

To be continued…Chapter 18