Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Twenty

Spider Fist

 

Jinn stood on a rocky shore and faced off with a martial arts master. The assassin was dressed in his white suit and had a black glove over his left hand. The master wore a black karate gi.

 

The sensei narrowed his eyes at Jinn. “You dare to challenge me?”

 

Jinn merely nodded. He lifted his left arm. “Oniken henge.

 

Tendrils of crimson energy danced across Jinn’s body as he transformed. Red and black leather armor formed across his body and legs. His entire left arm covered with jagged metal.

 

The master opened his eyes wide with shock. Jinn lunged forward and slammed a punch against the man’s chest.

 

***

 

The rangers sat on the ground with their sensei and watched a song and dance slowly move across the stage before them. They were part of an audience in a wooden theater inside Little Japan, a part of Angel Grove with structures, monuments, and landscaping that resembled feudal Japan.

 

The song was quiet, and the dance slow.

 

“Sensei,” Tommy whispered. “I can’t understand a word of this song.”

 

“I think it’s kind of catchy,” Billy whispered.

 

“No,” Kaku said. “It is a tale of sorrow.”

 

Tommy sighed and continued to watch.

 

Rocky started to snore. A quick jab from Kimberly’s elbow snapped him out of it. “Rocky, stay awake.”

 

“Whu? Huh…oh…” he mumbled sheepishly as he blushed.

 

***

 

The master collapsed against the shore and screamed in pain. A black spider tattoo appeared on the man’s chest. The tattoo slowly crawled up the man’s body while overloading his pain receptors.

 

“Excellent,” Jinn said. “I am now ready to face you again…Tommy.”

 

***

 

Tommy and Adam walked across a dirt path through a grove of trees after the play. They were headed towards the shore to take the monorail, which swung around the entire perimeter of Angel Grove.

 

“I guess it was kind of interesting,” Tommy said.

 

Adam nodded. “My old sensei Master Mao used to take me to those when I was a kid. It was shortly after I left the Ikkazuchi Way.”

 

“You went to the Ikkazuchi Way?” Tommy asked. “I was a member of the Hayate Way.” The two schools were bitter rivals dating back to their roots in Japan.

 

A master Jinn had attacked suddenly stumbled past a nearby bush and collapsed to the ground. Tommy and Adam rushed to his side and crouched down. They saw the spider tattoo crawl up to the man’s throat and flash with dark energy. The man died with one final gasp of pain.

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes as he stared at the spider. The tattoo seemed familiar.

 

A small object suddenly whizzed through the air towards Tommy’s face. He caught it and opened his palm to look. It was one of Jinn’s coins.

 

“Jinn…” Tommy said.

 

Tommy and Adam rose to their feet as they saw Jinn step forward, dressed in his white suit.

 

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Jinn said.

 

“What did you do to him, Jinn?” Tommy asked.

 

“The same thing I’ll do to you,” Jinn said.

 

“Bastard,” Adam said as he snapped into a fighting stance.

 

“No,” Tommy said as he extended his hand to stop his friend. “This is my fight.”

 

Jinn extended his arm forward. “Oniken henge.” Crimson energy crackled around him as he transformed into his armor.

 

Tommy wrinkled his brow and readied his morpher. “Chakra ignite…” He connected his braces. Energy shimmered around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

The opponents snapped into fighting stances.

 

Dragon Ranger leapt forward to attack. Jinn reached back as his fist energized. “Spider Fist!” he slammed his punch against the Red Ranger’s chest.

 

Dragon Ranger crashed backward onto the ground as he screamed in pain. He clutched his chest as his nervous system went into overload, feeling like the fires of the sun itself.

 

“Tommy!” Adam yelled as he ran to his friend’s side. Jinn stepped backward into the shadows.

 

***

 

Tommy lied on a bed within the lair. He screamed as his body convulsed with pain. The teens tried to hold him down to keep him from hurting himself. Kaku watched with growing concern.

 

“What’s wrong with him?” Rocky asked.

 

Adam lifted Tommy’s shirt and saw the spider tattoo on his stomach. Adam’s eyes opened wide as he remembered the spider symbol killing the master they had encountered earlier.

 

“That spider…” Adam said.

 

Kaku nodded. “That is what’s killing him,” Kaku said. “It will move to his throat…and then…”

 

Adam shook his head and rolled his hands into fists. Guilt overwhelmed him for letting Tommy fight alone. “No…no!” He turned and started to run off.

 

“Adam!” the others called.

 

Adam paused on his way out. “We have to find Jinn…he did this to him…”

 

Adam and the others ran off. The spider inched forward on Tommy’s body. His screams filled the lair.

 

***

 

Jinn kneeled at his former master’s grave and laid down a white flower. He bowed his head and folded his hands. His mind flashed back.

 

Jinn was sparring with his sensei on top of a cliff. The young man was being beaten as his sensei yelled taunts. “Fight you whelp!”

 

The sensei, mad with insanity, pressed forward with a flurry of kicks that knocked Jinn over the cliff. The sensei reached forward and grabbed Jinn’s left hand just in time to keep the student from plummeting towards the raging ocean shore below.

 

“I can’t pull you up…let go..” the sensei said.

 

“What…no!” Jinn shouted.

 

“Quit being a coward and let go! You are truly unworthy of my daughter.”

 

Jinn frantically tried to climb back up his sensei‘s arm. “Pull me up! Sensei! Sensei!”

 

“Fine,” the sensei said. He pulled out a knife and jammed the blade through Jinn’s left wrist, cutting his student’s hand off, and watching him plummet towards the shore below.

 

Jinn stood and punched his metal fist through the gravestone, pulverizing it into pieces like a wrecking ball. “The past is finally over now...I have no weaknesses…”

 

“Jinn!” Adam shouted as he and the others ran to the scene.

 

“Bastard!” Rocky yelled. The four rangers snapped into fighting stances.

 

“What did you do to Tommy?!” Kimberly asked.

 

“Ah,” Jinn said as he smiled. “You must be the rest of his team…be careful what you say, or Tommy’s fate will be yours.”

 

“Let’s shut this guy up!” Rocky shouted as he and the others jumped through the air to attack.

 

“Chakra ignite!” they shouted. They connected their braces, and energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

Oniken henge,” Jinn said quietly to key his own transformation. The assassin leapt forward through the air.

 

Jinn past the Rangers in a blur of motion, slamming punches and kicks against each of them to knock them from the air. The Rangers crashed onto the ground of the graveyard as Jinn landed on his feet.

 

Lion Ranger pounced forward and swung a cross punch towards Jinn. Jinn caught the punch and slammed a round kick against the Green Ranger’s side, knocking the Ranger backward.

 

Tenma Ranger spun forward with a spinning heel kick. Jinn grabbed the Blue Ranger by the leg and spun him off his feet. The assassin sent Tenma Ranger crashing through a nearby gravestone and tumbling across the ground.

 

Jinn slammed the back of his fist across the Yellow Ranger’s helmet and pounced forward, bashing an uppercut against Phoenix Ranger’s chest.

 

The Rangers regrouped on the ground. Tenma Ranger slowly crawled towards Jinn. “Jinn…tell us how to save Tommy or else…”

 

Jinn kicked Tenma Ranger upside the head. Tenma Ranger landed on his stomach. Jinn placed his heel on the back of the Blue Ranger’s neck and pressed downward. “You amuse me, making those kinds of threats when you cannot even stand. Tommy will die, and there is nothing anyone can do to change that.”

 

Jinn kicked Tenma Ranger away. The Blue Ranger rolled across the ground before rising into a crouched stance as the others regrouped around him.

 

Nearby, hidden behind a line of trees, Zydos stood alongside a Gorma warrior in monster form. The monster’s skin was covered in slick-black armor. His name was Ozutsu Gunso, Sergeant Cannon. His head extended forward, forming an organic cannon just above his Gorma eye.

 

The Gorma fired a burst of energy from his head cannon that exploded against all four Rangers, knocking them backward and sending them crashing through tombstones.

 

Jinn leapt over towards Zydos and the monster.

 

Lion Ranger and the other three Rangers rose to their feet. The Green Ranger grasped his injured shoulder. “Let’s get back to the lair.”

 

Jinn walked towards Zydos with his hands rolled into fists. “What are you doing? I had them.”

 

“Know your place, Jinn,” Zydos said.

 

“No,” Jinn said. “You know yours. I am not your pawn. I will win honor on my own. Never interfere again.”

 

Jinn turned and walked away.

 

“Don’t talk to him like that!” the monster shouted as he readied his weapon to fire.

 

Zydos held his arm out to stop the villain. “Wait…now is not the time. He is still useful to the Gorma, whether he knows it or not.”

 

***

 

Less than an hour later, Tommy awoke in a cold sweat. He breathed heavily, but his screaming had stopped. He was getting used to the pain.

 

The other teens moved to his side. They put on their bravest faces. Rocky and Tommy clasped hands. “Hang in there, Tommy,” Rocky said. “You can fight this…you’re too stubborn to let Jinn win.”

 

Tommy nodded. “You got that right,” he said weakly.

 

Kimberly ran her hand along his arm. “We’re here for you.”

 

Tommy nodded as he leaned back. “Did you find him?”

 

Rocky sighed. “No…but we’ll keep looking. He won’t be able to stop the four of us.”

 

“You just get your rest,” Kimberly said.

 

***

 

The four teens left the room and entered the stairwell. They slumped over in pain the second they shut the door.

 

“He nearly killed us,” Billy said. “In only a few seconds.”

 

Rocky nodded. “That’s putting it mildly.”

 

“Let’s get back out,” Adam said. “There has to be a way to stop what’s happening to Tommy…and Jinn will know.”

 

They slowly ascended the stairwell, their muscles aching with every step. Kaku stepped out from the shadows and watched them leave. He heard Tommy start screaming again. The spider inched further over his chest, hovering above his heart.

 

Kaku stepped inside. “Tommy,” he said firmly. “Find your balance…you have the power to beat this…I will not let you die…”

 

***

 

Tommy’s mind was on fire. Pain. The heat burned him and chilled him to the bone. The light blinded him and shrouded him in darkness. Pain. Hot needles driving through his head. He was going to die.

 

He had failed. Failed his friends. Failed Zordon. Kaku. Shannon.

 

The pain intensified. Where was Jason? He’d know what to do? Zordon. The pain moved. Shifted. A wound. Twisting the wound. Ripping it open and unleashing a floodgate. His mind was storm.

 

***

 

The teens left a dojo in Little Japan. “Are we looking in the right places?” Rocky asked.

 

Adam nodded. “Jinn will be around here somewhere…all of his victims have been from this area.”

 

The doors to a dojo behind them slid open. A man dressed in a brown robe and mask stepped forward. He pulled a small fan out from behind his back. He swung the fan in a single swipe and knocked the four rangers backward.

 

The man removed his disguise. It was Jinn.

 

Jinn laughed at them. “Back on your feet already?”

 

The teens snapped into fighting stances.

 

***

 

Kaku and an old Japanese man named Ayuma stood over Tommy. Tommy tried his best to bite back his pain. Tommy narrowed his eyes at Ayuma. “What the hell are you talking about?” Tommy looked to Kaku. “Where did you dig this guy up from?”

 

“He is a great healer,” Kaku said.

 

Ayuma nodded. “But in this case…you must heal yourself…you must battle your terrors and balance your soul in this moment of great extremity.”

 

“Sensei…” Tommy said as he shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

 

Kaku explained. “The spider you bare causes you great pain…but it is your own fear that will kill you if you do not conquer it.”

 

“How?” Tommy asked, shivering.

 

“Balance your soul,” Kaku said. “Separate yourself from your physical sensations and find peace.”

 

“How the hell am I supposed to do that?” Tommy asked.

 

“Try without trying,” he said. “Do without doing.”

 

Tommy nodded as he sat up. He then noticed blood on his hand. “What…” His mind flashed back to when Rocky had grasped his hand. “He lied. Jinn hurt them…and they’re going back after him…guys!”

 

Tommy stumbled out of bed and ran for the room‘s exit while clenching his jaw with pain.

 

***

 

Lion Ranger crashed onto the ground next to his teammates. He looked up as an armored Jinn stalked towards him. Their battle had moved to a warehouse in the wilderness just outside of city boundaries.

 

“You’re too late anyway,” Jinn said as he stalked towards them. “Tommy is surely dead by now.”

 

“No way!” Tenma Ranger yelled.

 

Jinn nodded. “I don’t know why it upsets you so. He died honorably.”

 

“Damn you!” Lion Ranger said as he and the others unsheathed their swords and charged towards Jinn.

 

Jinn gathered a sphere of crimson energy in his hands and tossed it at the Rangers. The blast exploded against their armor and knocked them backward. They tumbled across the ground as they were forcibly demorphed.

 

The four teens slowly rose to their feet. Kimberly narrowed her eyes at the assassin. “You’re nothing but a coward,” Kimberly said. “Like a wounded animal.”

 

Jinn wrinkled his brow and charged towards the teens while screaming a battle cry.

 

Then as if from nowhere, Tommy pounced forward and tackled against Jinn. The two opponents crashed against the ground and rolled backward.

 

Tommy and Jinn slowly rose back to their feet and faced each other.

 

“Bastard,” Jinn said.

 

“Tommy!” the others called for him.

 

Tommy said nothing. He clutched his chest, burning with pain, as he bit back his screams of agony.

 

“It’s already over,” Jinn said. “I’ve won.”

 

“You underestimated me once before,” Tommy said. “It almost got you killed.”

 

Nearby, concealed by tall grass, Zydos and Sergeant Cannon watched the battle unfold. Zydos looked to the monster. “Kill the winner.”

 

Jinn thrust his hand forward. “Spider Bite!” Strands of webbing lashed out and surrounded Tommy as he struggled to escape.

 

Jinn swung his fist towards Tommy’s chest. Tommy closed his eyes tight and prepared for the finishing blow. His mind seemed to flash back to what Kaku had told him about conquering his fears and finding balance.

 

In his mind’s eye, Tommy envisioned himself at a wide crevice stretching over a bottomless drop. Tommy was walking along a thin strand of rope that stretched across the cavern.

 

His teammates were at the other end of the wire. They were calling his name and extending their hands. They needed him. If Tommy fell, he would fail them. He could not let that happened.

 

He took another step forward. And another. He kept his balance as he moved closer to his friends. His own fears threatened to cripple him, but he kept moving despite the pain. Tommy reached forward and grabbed his friends’ hands.

 

Tommy snapped open his eyes and caught Jinn’s punch. “I told you not to underestimate me…”

 

Tommy knocked Jinn’s fist away and spun forward with a reverse sidekick that slammed against the assassin’s chest. Jinn stumbled backward as Tommy snapped into a fighting stance.

 

The spider tattoo on his chest vanished.

 

Jinn rose back to his feet. “Impossible.”

 

The teens joined together.

 

“Guys,” Tommy said. “It’s morphin’ time!”

 

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

 

Together, they shouted. “Power of the Stars, brought down! Heaven Star Task Force, Power Rangers!”

 

Lion Ranger, Tenma Ranger, Kirin Ranger, and Phoenix Ranger stood in a circle and interlaced their Thunder Staffs. Dragon Ranger somersaulted forward through the air and bounced off the staffs before leaping towards Jinn.

 

Jinn pounced into the air with a flying sidekick. The opponents’ kicks slammed against each other as they passed by. Jinn back flipped back to the ground as Dragon Ranger flipped onto an overhang.

 

The Red Ranger snapped into a fighting stance while looking down at Jinn.

 

Jinn extended his metal hand and fired a crimson energy snake. The snake exploded beneath Dragon Ranger as he leapt forward off the overhang. The Red Ranger extended his hand down towards the assassin while descending.

 

“Fire Stream!” Dragon Ranger shouted.

 

A spiral of flame shot from the Red Ranger’s palm and exploded against Jinn, knocking the assassin backward.

 

Dragon Ranger landed on the ground and sprang forward to attack. The Red Ranger snapped a knifehand blow that Jinn blocked, and a roundkick that Jinn blocked.

 

“Burn Knuckle!” Dragon Ranger shouted as his fist energized with fiery power and slammed against Jinn’s chest, forcing the assassin down to his knees.

 

Nearby, Zydos looked to the monster. “Now.”

 

Sergeant Cannon set its sights on Dragon Ranger. The Gorma opened fire with a volley of powerful concussion blasts that streaked towards the Red Ranger’s head and chest.

 

Jinn watched the blasts streaking towards his opponent. Jinn sprang to his feet and pushed Dragon Ranger out of the way. Cannon blasts exploded across Jinn’s chest, smashing through armor, skin, muscle, and bone while knocking the assassin off his feet.

 

“Jinn!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he ran over to the assassin.

 

“Stay back!” Jinn shouted.

 

“Why did you…” Dragon Ranger started to say.

 

“You deserved…a more honorable death than that,” Jinn said as his eyes closed and he went limp on the ground.

 

“Rangers!” Sergeant Cannon shouted as he ran forward with an enlargement bomb in his hand. The villain tossed the bomb to the ground and used the energy from its explosion to grow giant.

 

The Rangers regrouped below and unsheathed their Thunder Swords while holding their Thunder Gems. “Thunderzords, arise!”

 

The five main Thunderzords appeared, charging over the landscape. Red Dragon and Phoenix flew through the air as the Kirin, Tenma, and Lion charged forward from the ground.

 

The Rangers used their Thunder Blasters like grappling guns and reeled themselves into their zords’ cockpits.

 

Dragon Ranger placed his hand over the crystal control sphere in front of him. “Red Dragon, rise up!”

 

Tendrils of crimson energy danced across the zord’s armor as the Red Dragon changed shape. The massive zord reconfigured into its warrior mode and landed on the ground to face off with the Gorma.

 

The White Tigerzord ran to the scene. Kiba Ranger was within his zord’s cockpit with Byakko in hand. “Guys!” Kiba Ranger shouted. “Sorry I’m late.”

 

The cannon Gorma opened fire with a volley of projectiles that exploded against the zords.

 

“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.

 

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

 

The 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!”

 

Sergeant Cannon launched another volley of missiles that the Megazord walked through as explosions sparked across its armor.

 

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

 

The Phoenix extended its wings and shot towards the monster. Fiery energy twisted around the Phoenix as it streaked towards the monster. The Phoenix pierced through the monster with a violent explosion. Sergeant Cannon was consumed by flame as he exploded into nothing more than ash.

 

***

 

Zydos walked through the mountains while carrying Jinn over his shoulder. “You’re not out of this game yet,” Zydos said. He laughed and continued walking.

 

***

 

Tommy and Simon Kaden sparred at Bear Lake. Tommy recently taught his young student a new series of moves and kicking combinations. Simon had adapted them almost perfectly. The boy was a quick learner.

 

Then Tommy saw someone watching through the corner of his eye. It was the strange man Tommy first met after he lost his Green Ranger powers. Tommy did not know the man’s name but referred to him as the Dark Man because of his long black jacket and black hair.

 

“Simon,” Tommy said. “Head over to the lake. I’ll meet you there in a minute.”

 

Simon turned his head and looked towards the Dark Man. “Is he a Gorma?”

 

“I don’t think so,” Tommy said. “Now go.”

 

Simon sighed and walked off.

 

The Dark Man slowly walked towards Tommy. A smile was on the Dark Man’s face as he watched Simon walk off. “He’ll make a great Ranger someday.”

 

“Simon?” Tommy asked. “He’s just a kid.”

 

“For now,” the man said. “However, the future of your young friend isn’t what I came here to talk to you about.”

 

“What is it?” Tommy asked.

 

“I came to congratulate you on your latest victory over Jinn. You’re already one of the most powerful warriors in this universe, and you’ve only just begun to explore your potential.”

 

Tommy shook his head. “I doubt that.”

 

The Dark Man laughed. “No you don’t…and the truth is…you want that. You want to be the perfect warrior. That’s why you were so fascinated with Jinn. In a way, he is who you want to be.”

 

Tommy narrowed his brow at the Dark Man.

 

“Now,” the man said. “I’ll let you get back to training your little hawk. Farewell.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 21