Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Twenty-One

Kujaku Nears the End

 

A man went hiking through the tree-filled hills outside of Angel Grove. He was a frequent visitor of the hills. He enjoyed the fresh air and cool breeze. The atmosphere helped him clear his mind of the corporate hassles of his life.

 

The man lost his footing and stumbled down a hill. He tumbled to a stop and slammed against a nearby tree. He rose to his feet in pain.

 

A rainbow-colored energy flashed above him. The energy was shaped like a bird. The bird launched a spike of energy that pierced the man and started to drain his life force. The man expelled his last breath with a scream of agony.

 

***

 

The five teens were eating at an outdoor café at Angel’s Square, a bustling part of Angel Grove North that put New York‘s Times Square to shame. A television news broadcast was shown on a large television monitor across the street.

 

“I’m telling ya,” Rocky said to the others, “girls are not as understanding as they make themselves out to be.”

 

“Rocky,” Tommy said with a grin. “You stood her up three times in a row.”

 

Rocky shrugged. “I had to save the world. And I can’t so much tell her that.”

 

“That was the reason each time?” Kimberly asked.

 

Rocky shrugged. “Well…not exactly.”

 

“Hey,” Billy said. His eyes were fixed to the monitor across the street. “Check out the news.”

 

The news was showing a report about a rash of assaults in the hills. Amateur video caught the energy bird on tape. The rangers recognized the sight immediately.

 

“It can’t be,” Adam said. “She wouldn’t…”

 

“Kujaku,” Tommy said.

 

Adam shook his head while running from the table.

 

***

 

A Gorma in monster form sat in a cave while whispering an incantation. He wore a red and white body suit. Half his head was made of a gem-like substance that almost appeared like the inside of a kaleidoscope. The other half of his face was skull and bone, looking as if the gem substance had been torn off his skull.

 

Gara stepped from the shadows. “Did it work?”

 

The Gorma named Mangekyo Hakushaku, Count Kaleidoscope, nodded. “Kujaku has been lured into the open.”

 

Gara smiled wickedly.

 

***

 

Kujaku walked through the wooded hills with her daggers in hand. She sensed the Gorma watching her. She felt their evil.

 

A group of roots sprang from the ground and lashed towards Kujaku like living vines. She snapped her daggers out and slashed across two of the vines. But three more vines wrapped around her and started dragging her across the ground.

 

As if from nowhere, Adam leapt forward and grabbed Kujaku. He used her daggers to cut her free before helping her to her feet.

 

Kujaku took her daggers back and ran towards higher ground as Adam followed. They stopped at a clearing. Kujaku sensed that danger had passed and returned her daggers to their holsters.

 

Kujaku and Adam met stares and stood silently for a moment.

 

“Are you alright?” Adam asked her.

 

Kujaku shook her head.

 

She didn’t have to say a word. Adam knew. He could see it in her eyes. Kujaku was dying.

 

***

 

The other teens joined Adam and Kujaku near a creek that ran through the wooded hills. They had questioned her at length about the news report, much to Adam’s frustration.

 

“It was a set up,” Kujaku explained. “Gara knew exactly how to get my attention.”

 

“Ours too,” Adam said. “I thought that you were…” he shook his head. He couldn’t stand the thought of Kujaku killing innocents.

 

Kujaku reached forward and took Adam’s hand in hers to comfort him. “The only thing that can save me is the Tears of the Peacock. Draining others’ life energies wouldn’t work.”

 

“What if it did?” Tommy asked with skepticism.

 

Kujaku remained silent.

 

***

 

The Gorma monster continued to whisper his incantation. He had the ability to project certain illusions that became reality. He was the one who was stealing the life force from innocents to lure out Kujaku.

 

Back in Angel Grove, beneath the city streets, Kaku sensed the villain’s presence. He snapped his eyes open. “Mangekyo…”

 

***

 

The teens walked through the woods. They kept their eyes open for any sign of the Gorma. “Whatever attacked those people couldn’t have gone far,” Billy said.

 

The teens triggered a hidden trap laid by the Gorma. The trap triggered a volley of spears that shot towards the teens. The rangers and Kujaku dove for cover and rolled across the ground to dodge the weapons.

 

A massive explosion suddenly tore through the trees with a rolling wave of fire, creating a powerful shockwave that slammed against the teens and sent them flying off their feet. The rangers and Kujaku landed in a tall field of grass nearby. They slowly rose to their feet and looked up to see Gara glaring at them.

 

“Gara!” Kujaku shouted as she unsheathed her daggers.

 

Gara extended her fencing-type saber. “Kyonshi!”

 

A group of the black-clad soldiers appeared and charged forward to attack the rangers.

 

“It’s morphin time!” Tommy shouted.

 

“Chakra ignite!” The teens connected their braces. Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

“Thunder Staff!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he armed his red staff and moved forward to attack.

 

The Red Ranger bashed the end of his staff against an approaching soldier’s chest. Dragon Ranger spun forward while smashing that soldier across the back of the head.

 

Seven more grunts charged towards the Red Ranger. He leapt forward while spinning and used his staff to bat three of the soldiers away while kicking the other four down in a single move.

 

Ten soldiers surrounded Lion Ranger.

 

The Green Ranger slammed a jump roundkick against a soldier’s head, bashing in its skull. He reached back and slammed his elbow against a soldier that had tried to sneak up behind him. The Green Ranger snapped a jump kick upside another soldier’s head.

 

A Kyonshi swung his staff towards Kirin Ranger’s head. The Yellow Ranger grabbed the staff to block it and slammed a high roundkick against the grunt’s head.

 

Phoenix Ranger slammed a palm-heel strike upside a grunt’s head. She spun forward with a reverse axe kick that crashed against the villain’s collar bone.

 

Tenma Ranger slammed a spinning heel kick across a soldier’s face and followed with a sweep kick that knocked the legs out from beneath a second soldier.

 

Nearby, Kujaku and Gara circled around each other. Gara dashed forward and swung her blade towards Kujaku’s head. Kujaku used her daggers to slap the sword away and swung her blades at the Gorma’s neck.

 

Gara sidestepped the strike and slashed her blade upward across Kujaku’s chest, blade sparking on impact and sending the warrior crashing to the ground.

 

Through the corner of his visor, Lion Ranger saw Kujaku fall.

 

Gara extended her hand and launched a volley of blue energy spheres from her palm that streaked towards Kujaku. The Green Ranger leapt forward and stood in front of Kujaku, spreading his arms to protect her as the blasts exploded against his armor with a volley of sparks.

 

“Why do you protect such an emotionless and cold hearted creature,” Gara asked. The villain stepped back and teleported away, blinking out of sight.

 

***

 

Night came. All of the rangers returned to their homes, except for Adam. He decided to stay in the hills with Kujaku. Someone needed to keep watch to make sure the Gorma monster did not harm any more innocents in the area, Adam had told his friends.

 

But he just wanted to be with her.

 

Kujaku and Adam sat around a small camp fire. “Kujaku…” Adam said. “Why does Gara hate you so much?”

 

“The scar on her face…” Kujaku said. “When we were both very young, Gara and I were very close. Both members of the Dai tribe. Then one day while we were walking through the market, a building collapsed near us. Gara pushed me out of the way, but was seriously injured as a result…that’s what the scar is from. She lost part of her hearing from head injuries, and she never regained full use of her legs. From that day on she isolated herself from everyone. I felt…guilty.

 

“The only way I could think of to help her was to find the Tears of the Peacock. Legend said the Tears belonged to Mahamayuri Vidyaraja, the Buddha who’s animal symbol was the peacock. The Tears have the most potent healing powers and can prevent even death. The best way to obtain the tears was for me to become his servant. So I dedicated myself to training for many years in order to become his servant and find the Tears.

 

“By the time my training was over, the Gorma had already begun their attack, and Gara was one of them. I was forced into the middle of their war. I never found the Tears.”

 

“These are the same Tears that could save you?” Adam asked.

 

Kujaku nodded.

 

“We’ll help you find them,” Adam said as he placed a hand on her shoulder.

 

***

 

The teens and Kujaku regrouped the next morning. They moved from the hills into the mountains. Kujaku sensed that the Gorma were close. And she was right.

 

A bolt of lightning suddenly streaked down from the sky and exploded against the ground with a shockwave that hurled the teens and Kujaku off their feet. They crashed against the ground and tumbled backward.

 

One of Kujaku’s armored feathers fell from her back and turned gray as she limped over in pain.

 

“Kujaku!” Adam shouted as he ran towards her side and started to help her up.

 

Kujaku pushed him aside. She hated being seen in such a pathetic state. “Leave me.”

 

“No,” Adam said.

 

Another bolt of lightning crashed down against the mountainside. An avalanche slid downward and caused the ground to tremble. The rangers lost their balance and collapsed as countless boulders started to slam against the ground around them.

 

Adam squinted his eyes and shielded his face as debris showered across the ground.

 

An invisible wave of energy pulsed forward against the boulders and sent them scrambling back up the hill and out of harm’s way.

 

The teens slowly rose to their feet. Kujaku was nowhere in sight.

 

“What the hell was that?” Rocky asked.

 

Footsteps slowly walked across the dirt behind them. They turned to see Master Kaku walk towards them.

 

“Sensei?” Tommy said.

 

“You have fallen into a Gorma trap,” he said. “The Tears Kujaku is seeking are not the real Tears. They are a decoy set by Gara. They will kill her.”

 

Adam just noticed Kujaku was missing. He scanned the area frantically. “Kujaku!”

 

***

 

Kujaku slowly limped through an underground cavern. She had sensed the Tears and was immediately captivated by them. She leaned against the cavern wall for support as she moved forward.

 

She spotted the Tears out in the open. The Tears were egg-shaped and made of long flower-like petals. She slowly picked them up.

 

“The Tears…after all this time.” She moved towards the Tears.

 

“No!” Adam shouted as he ran forward through the shadows. He backhand slapped the Tears from her hands. “Those aren’t real.”

 

The Tears crashed to the ground and shattered, revealing itself to be a skull. A snake crawled through its empty eye socket.

 

“Adam!” Tommy shouted as he and the others ran to their friend.

 

The teens regrouped as Adam rolled his hands into fists. “Come out!” Adam shouted. “This game is over.”

 

Count Kaleidoscope stepped forward from the shadows. “But we’ve been having so much fun.”

 

The villain extended his fist and tightened his muscles. The cavern started to shake as rubble fell from the ceiling.

 

“Come on, guys,” Tommy said. His team stood in formation and placed their right fists against their left palms as they closed their eyes and focused their Kiryoku.

 

The rangers used their powers to stop the trembling cavern’s vibrations and turn those vibrations back against the Gorma. Energy exploded around the villain and blasted him upward, sending him crashing back down on the surface near a rocky shore.

 

The teens leapt up through the opening along with Kujaku and landed on the surface as the Gorma monster slowly rose back to his feet.

 

Gara appeared on a nearby cliff and glared down at the group.

 

Kujaku unsheathed her daggers and turned to face the villain. “Gara!”

 

Adam stepped forward in front of Kujaku. She was injured, and Adam did not want to see her get hurt. “Gara…is all this worth it…over a stupid scar?”

 

“It’s more than that you fool,” Gara answered. “Because of that scar, I was imperfect. No one would have anything to do with me…not even the girl whom I considered a sister. You ran off, Kujaku, for years, leaving me alone at the mercy of my peers’ cruelty. For that I will never forgive you.”

 

“Gara…” Kujaku said in a rare attempt to reason with the Gorma.

 

“No!” Gara shouted. She extended her hand and launched spheres of blue fire from her palms. The spheres exploded around the teens as they rolled for cover.

 

The rangers rolled back to their feet and armed their braces.

 

“It’s morphin time!” Tommy shouted.

 

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

 

Dragon Ranger snapped into a fighting stance as the team faced the Gorma monster. “It’s time to take care of business.”

 

The Rangers armed their red Thunder Staffs and leapt into battle.

 

Dragon Ranger and Tenma Ranger somersaulted forward through midair and landed while spearing the tips of their weapons against the villain.

 

Phoenix Ranger and Kirin Ranger spun forward next while swinging their weapons horizontally and bashing across the villain’s head.

 

Lion Ranger leapt downward towards the monster and armed a Star Blade. The Green Ranger landed while slashing the villain downward across the chest. Lion Ranger swung the blade horizontally, but the villain unsheathed a double-edged sword and knocked the blow away.

 

The Gorma monster swung his blade towards the Green Ranger’s neck. Lion Ranger ducked under the blow while spinning past the villain. Green Ranger rose to full height and slammed a roundhouse kick against the monster.

 

Lion Ranger swung his Star Blade horizontally towards the villain’s body. The monster blocked the blow and swung a fist towards the Green Ranger’s faceplate, but Lion Ranger caught the fist.

 

The two opponents went around in circles before Lion Ranger separated himself from the monster.

 

The Gorma fired an energy burst from his palm that exploded around Lion Ranger as he rolled across the ground for cover. The Green Ranger rolled into a crouched position and aimed his Star Blade towards the villain.

 

“Star Blade Assault!” he shouted. The blade pulsed with pale-green light and shot towards the villain in a streak of energy.

 

The blade slashed across the villain with a burst of spark. The monster crashed to the ground and tumbled backward. Smoke still rising from his chest, the monster rose back to his feet.

 

Lion Ranger held his palm against his fist as the lion eyes on his helmet flashed with blue power. “Heaven Illusion Star, Mist Concealment Destruction!”

 

The Green Ranger thrust his hand forward and launched a streak of fog. Darkness and fog surrounded the Gorma monster. The Gorma narrowed his eyes as the fog around him seemed to take shape. An illusion of Kujaku suddenly burst forward and exploded against the villain.

 

The monster blasted back into reality.

 

The Rangers regrouped and stood in formation. “Kiryoku Bazooka!”

 

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.

 

Phoenix Ranger 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.

 

Energy from the explosion reassembled the villain and caused the monster to grow giant.

 

The Rangers unsheathed their Thunder Swords and lifted the blades into the air while holding their Thunder Gems. “Thunderzords, arise!”

 

The five 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.

 

Dragon Ranger’s Thunder Gem began to glow with deep red power. The Red Ranger called upon that power as he called out. “Thunder Star Fusion!”

 

Lightning struck each of the zords as they radiated with energy. The zords started to change shape and reconfigure as they merged with Red Dragon. Tenma and Kirin formed armor around the Dragon’s legs as the Phoenix wrapped around its waist. The Lion formed a chest plate and wrapped around the zord’s upper arms as a gold and black helmet slid into place.

 

The Rangers joined in the central cockpit. “MegaThunderzord!” they shouted together. “Dairenou!”

 

“MegaThunderzord Saber!” Dragon Ranger shouted. Dairenou unsheathed his curved blade.

 

The Gorma monster charged forward to attack while holding his double-edged sword forward.

 

“MegaThunderzord Saber,” The Rangers shouted. “Lightning Slash!”

 

Dairenou’s blade energized and chopped through the villain. The Gorma’s broken body fell backward, his energy overloading and exploding as his remains were consumed by flame.

 

***

 

Kujaku had fallen to her knees near a creek. Adam ran to her side and helped her to her feet. “Kujaku!” Adam said. “You’ll be okay. There’s still time. We’ll help you find the Tears.”

 

Kujaku ran her fingers through Adam’s hair. “Adam…I have to do this on my own.”

 

Kujaku turned and walked off.

 

To be continued…Chapter 22