Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Twenty-Two

Dragon of Death

 

Kameo had his telescope aimed out his window at night. He looked through the lens towards the stars as Kou and Billy stood behind him.

 

“I don’t know, Kameo,” Kou said as he shook his head. “You’ve been looking out that thing forever and haven’t seen anything.”

 

“Just a little longer,” Kameo said as he zoomed his focus towards the moon.

 

Kou sighed and slumped his shoulders.

 

“Wait…what’s that?” Kameo asked. “By the moon!”

 

Through the telescope, Kameo saw a large dragon-shaped shadow pass over the moon.

 

“It’s probably just a shooting star,” Billy said. He narrowed his eyes towards the moon but saw nothing.

 

***

 

The dragon was very real. Each claw of the massive, unstoppable beast was almost the size of a Megazord. The dragon twisted downward and flew through the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

 

***

 

Kameo’s gem flashed with bright green light. The gem sent a pulse of energy into Kameo that enveloped him and transformed him into a small turtle.

 

“I hate it when this happens,” Kameo said in his turtle form.

 

“Kameo…” Billy said as he took a step back, not wanting to step on his friend.

 

Kameo returned to his human form with a pulse of light and crashed onto his tailbone. His eyes were fixed on the sky above, his face pale with fear. “It’s coming!”

 

***

 

“Are you sure you didn’t see anything?” Tommy asked as he and Billy walked by a fountain plaza near the center of Angel Grove.

 

“Yes,” Billy said. “But I believe Kameo. He’s very paranoid, but…I think he did see something. It’s such a vague description, I haven’t been able to find anything out about it from the texts Zordon left behind.”

 

Tommy sighed. “A big dragon.” He shook his head. “We’ll have to talk to sensei about this one.”

 

Tommy’s communicator toned. He lifted his wrist and pressed the device’s activation button. “This is Tommy…”

 

“Tommy…” It was Kimberly. She sounded panicked. “Get over here now. It’s Kou…he…just get over here!”

 

“I’m on may way, Kim,” Tommy said as he and Billy ran off towards Kimberly’s apartment.

 

***

 

Tommy and Billy ran onto Kimberly’s floor and saw her standing outside her own door. They dashed closer to her.

 

“Are you alright?” Tommy asked.

 

Kimberly shook her head. “I am, but Kou isn’t. Something weird is going on in there.”

 

Tommy turned towards the door and narrowed his eyes. He cracked the door open, and a gust of wind immediately pushed the three teens backward. Crimson light was flashing inside.

 

Tommy moved back towards the door when the wind stopped. He peaked inside and opened his eyes wide with shock.

 

Kou was unconscious, hovering in midair with his back flat facing the ground. The entire room was pulsing with crimson energy as lamps, telephones and appliances were hurled about by an unseen force. Tendrils of red energy occasionally thrashed out from Kou’s body.

 

The tiger tattoo on Kou’s arm was flashing blue, straining to contain the energy.

 

The force intensified, and invisible energy nearly forced the three teens backward through a wall. But they stood their ground and fought to keep the door open.

 

“Kou!” Kimberly shouted.

 

***

 

Rocky and Adam were at a small arcade near the Angel Grove University football stadium in Angel Grove North. The trip was Rocky’s idea, and Adam followed reluctantly. Rocky was leaning onto a pinball machine, his eyes fixed on the game while he played.

 

“I think you’re becoming addicted,” Adam said.

 

“Oh, come on,” Rocky said while keeping his eyes on his game. “How often do any of us get out anymore anyway?”

 

Rocky lost the game.

 

“Oh man,” he said as he hunched over the machine in bitter defeat.

 

Adam rolled his eyes and patted his friend on the back.

 

A strange man dressed in a tuxedo walked over to them. The man leaned against the machine. “You give up too easy,” the man said to Rocky.

 

“Because I asked for your opinion,” Rocky said sarcastically.

 

The man patted the pin ball machine. Every machine in the room started spitting out quarters and tokens from its slots. Over-eager teenagers frantically started scooping the tokens, counting the hours of mind-numbing entertainment they would provide.

 

The stranger tossed a handful of metal pellets onto the ground that the kids tripped over before crashing to the ground. The stranger turned and started to walk away.

 

Rocky narrowed his eyes at the man. “Hey…” He and Adam both grabbed the man’s shoulders to turn him around.

 

The stranger spun backward while slamming the back of his fist across the two teens’ heads.

 

The man took a few steps backward away from the rangers as his skin started to ripple. He transformed into a Gorma monster. He wore white and light red garments covered by plates of armor that resembled pachinko machines in styling. A pastel bandana covered the top of his head. The bottom half of his face was pale white, and his mouth was full of fangs. His name was Pachinko Daimeijin.

 

“Can we ever get a day off?” Rocky said.

 

“I guess not,” Adam said.

 

The villain hurled an invincible telekinetic burst into the room that started throwing gamers around, tossing them through the air. The villain used the disturbance as a distraction and ran outside.

 

Rocky and Adam followed. Adam activated his communicator. “Tommy, Billy, Kimberly…Gorma.” he shouted.

 

***

 

Tommy and the others were still trying to force their way into Kimberly’s apartment. Tommy answered into his communicator. “We’re having problems of our own, Adam.”

 

Another burst of energy knocked the teens backward.

 

***

 

“Get back here!” Rocky shouted as he and Adam chased the monster outside near the stadium.

 

The two rangers armed their morphers and leapt forward. “Chakra ignite!” Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

The two Rangers leapt over the monster while kicking down on its collar bone. The villain collapsed. Tenma Ranger and Lion Ranger turned to face the villain while they landed and snapped into fighting stances.

 

The Gorma monster tossed a handful of metal pellets at the Rangers. The pellets exploded against their chests with bursts of spark that knocked them off their feet.

 

Pachinko Daimeijin fired a thick lightning bolt that slammed against the Rangers and imprisoned them within a large sphere of iron.

 

“Okay,” Tenma Ranger said. “This is just stupid.”

 

The monster kicked the large pellet that contained the captured Rangers. The pellet slammed against several nearby buildings before cracking open and spilling the two Rangers back onto the ground.

 

“Well,” the monster said. “It’s been fun…but I have to go. Good bye, twerps!” The monster teleported away.

 

***

 

Sensei Kaku joined Tommy, Billy, and Kimberly outside of the apartment. “It’s happening,” Kaku said. “The evil of the Gorma is winning.”

 

“What are you…” Then Tommy remembered what Kou’s mother had told them.

 

“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 tiger brand is weakening,” Kaku said.

 

“There has to be something we can do,” Kimberly said.

 

“We need a way inside first,” Billy said.

 

“Kaku,” Byakko said from within the room as he peaked his head out of Kou’s jacket. “There may be a way I can help him...I can enter his mind…”

 

Kaku nodded, signaling the saber to proceed.

 

White beams shot from the saber’s eyes and into Kou’s mind…

 

***

 

Kou’s mind was like a dark forest of twisted trees surrounded by thick blankets of fog. Byakko hovered through the mist as he projected his image into his holder’s mind.

 

“Guys!” Kou shouted frantically as he ran through the twisted woods. He was a prisoner inside his own mind. “Where is everyone?!”

 

“Kou!” Byakko shouted.

 

“Byakko…” But Kou could not find the saber. “Where did you go?!”

 

Kou heard the squeaking of old wooden wheels nearby in the fog. Then a whistle.

 

A Kyonshi carried a small chariot from the fog. Akomaru stepped down from the chariot and slowly started walking towards Kou.

 

Kou opened his eyes wide and fell backward, tripping over his own feet. “Akomaru…it can’t be!”

 

Byakko shouted from the distance. “It’s not real Kou…this is all in your mind!”

 

“Yes and no, Byakko,” Akomaru said with a glimmer of evil in his eye. “This is Kou’s mind, and I’m in it.”

 

Kou rolled his hands up into fists as he rose back to his feet.

 

“Your power has made you a prisoner here, Kou,” Akomaru said. “A prisoner in your own mind. And as your birthday nears…” Akomaru removed his headband, revealing a third eye about ready to pop out from his forehead. The skin on his head was cracked and bulging. “You will truly be Gorma. My fate, is yours.”

 

Akomaru extended his hand and fired energy tentacles of crimson power from his palm. The tentacles wrapped around Kou and lifted him from his feet. Akomaru used the tentacles to throw Kou around, bashing him into trees and slamming him against the ground.

 

“Get out of my head!” Kou shouted.

 

***

 

The energy around Kou shattered as explosions sparked throughout Kimberly’s apartment. Kou and Byakko crashed to the ground.

 

Kaku and the teens burst into the room. Kimberly crouched down next to Kou and tried to wake him. “Kou…Kou!”

 

“Akomaru is still alive!” Byakko shouted. “He’s invaded Kou’s mind, suppressing his consciousness and accelerating the evil energies inside of him.”

 

***

 

The gigantic black dragon flew closer towards to the Earth’s surface. Its serpent-like form snapped like a snake.

 

***

 

Within the Gorma palace, Akomaru sat across from the emperor. The boy was not wearing a mask as he played cards with the Gorma ruler. A bulge on his forehead was covered with dry cracking skin where his third eye would pop out.

 

Shadam stood by impatiently with his arms crossed over his chest. He wore the same wooden mask over his face that all Gorma had to wear when they faced their ruler.

 

“Good hand, Akomaru,” the emperor said as he reached out and grabbed one of the boy’s cards. “But I win again.”

 

Shadam shook his head in disbelief. “This is a waste of my time.”

 

The emperor looked up at Shadam. “Learn some respect, Shadam. You could learn a lot from the boy.”

 

Akomaru grinned mockingly at Shadam.

 

“Hmph,” Shadam said.

 

“Listen to the emperor, father,” Akomaru said as he exchanged another card with the emperor. “After all...I have accelerated the evil within Kiba Ranger. It’s only a matter of time before he is Gorma.”

 

“What…” Shadam said in disbelief. “How?”

 

“The boy has his resources,” the emperor said. He laughed. “Which is more than I can say for you.”

 

***

 

Shadam slammed his fist through a crate within a dark warehouse. The other two members of the Gorma Triumvirate stood by. “How did he do it?” Shadam asked. “He’s just a boy.”

 

Gara nodded. “I wonder what these resources are the emperor spoke of?”

 

Shadam shook his head. “He’s just a boy…and he has the Kiba Ranger.”

 

Zydos shook his head. “Let’s kill him.”

 

Shadam shook his head. “Not yet. He’s too close to the emperor…but if the Kiba Ranger’s will has truly been weakened...maybe we could use that to our advantage.”

 

***

 

The Gorma pachinko monster was stalking across the streets when a streak of pale light struck his body, possessing him. The Gorma screamed and leapt through the air.

 

The monster landed at an outdoor playground complete with carousels and a miniature roller coaster.

 

“Stop!” Lion Ranger shouted as he and Tenma Ranger leapt onto the scene.

 

“Rangers…” the monster growled. The monster extended his hand and fired a blue energy blast from his palm.

 

The blast exploded against the Rangers’ armor as they rolled forward through the explosions, sparks thrashing across their armor.

 

Lion Ranger sprang forward and swung a knifehand chop towards the villain’s head. With one swift movement, the Gorma blocked the blow and smashed the Green Ranger aside. Lion Ranger turned and snapped a roundkick towards the monster, but the Gorma blocked the blow and slammed a backfist strike across the Ranger’s helmet.

 

Tenma Ranger moved forward with a jump roundkick, but the villain blocked the blow and slammed an uppercut upside the Blue Ranger’s head.

 

Lion Ranger moved forward and swung the back of his fist towards the monster’s head. The villain blocked the blow and grabbed the Green Ranger by the throat. The monster hurled the Ranger over his shoulder.

 

The Green Ranger crashed against the ground and tumbled backward.

 

“Adam,” Tenma Ranger called as he ran to his friend’s side and helped the Green Ranger to his feet. The two Rangers snapped into fighting stances.

 

Suddenly, Dragon Ranger and Kirin Ranger leapt through the air and speared their staffs against the Gorma, knocking the villain off his feet.

 

The four Rangers regrouped as the villain rose to his feet. The Gorma monster snarled at the Rangers and laughed. For a few seconds, the Rangers could see a ghostly image of Shadam ebb from within the monster.

 

“It’s Shadam,” Dragon Ranger said. “Is this his monster form?”

 

“No,” Lion Ranger said.

 

“Shadam must have possessed this Gorma,” Kirin Ranger said.

 

The Gorma pulled out and enlarging bomb and tossed it to the ground. He absorbed the energy of the explosion and used it to grow giant.

 

The villain started slamming his fists through buildings, causing explosions while debris crashed against the streets below. People ran and screamed in panic as cars screeched to a halt to avoid getting crushed by massive chunks of concrete.

 

Zydos and Gara appeared on the streets below alongside a group of Kyonshi and charged towards the four Rangers.

 

Dragon Ranger turned to face them. “Gorma…”

 

The Rangers and Kyonshi slammed against each other with a flurry of blows. Dragon Ranger knocked a soldier’s staff aside while pressing forward with a spinning heel kick against the grunt’s head. Tenma Ranger moved in low while kicking the legs out from a soldier. Kirin Ranger slammed a jumpkick upside a soldier’s head.

 

The giant Gorma looked down at the Rangers. “It’s not you we’re after, Rangers…it’s the Kiba Ranger…”

 

“What?” Dragon Ranger said.

 

The monster shot out a blast of Crimson energy that flew across the city.

 

***

 

Kou was lying back on the couch while unconscious. Kimberly was at his side, sitting on the floor and applying a damp washcloth to his forehead. The boy had broken out into a fever.

 

The blast of crimson energy suddenly shot into the apartment and entered Kou’s body. The boy’s eyes snapped open as he sat up.

 

***

 

The Rangers’ battle with the Kyonshi had covered four city blocks. The grunts seemed to pop up everywhere, battling against the four Rangers with staffs and sabers. Tenma Ranger was clearing the soldiers from a fire escape with a flurry of spinning kicks while the other Rangers continued to smash against the soldiers on the streets.

 

Kiba Ranger suddenly leapt onto the scene. The White Ranger slammed a flying sidekick against Tenma Ranger’s back. Blue Ranger toppled off the fire escape and crashed on the streets below.

 

The Rangers regrouped below the fire escape.

 

“You okay?” Dragon Ranger asked as he helped the Blue Ranger to his feet.

 

“Yeah,” Tenma Ranger said as they looked towards the White Ranger, standing on the fire escape above. “Something’s wrong with Kou!”

 

Kiba Ranger leapt from the fire escape and angled his descent towards the four Rangers below. He swung his saber downward across Tenma Ranger’s chest while landing, his blade sparking across the Blue Ranger’s armor upon impact.

 

Kiba Ranger spun past Kirin Ranger while slashing across the Ranger’s armor with a burst of spark.

 

The White Ranger continued his spin while twirling his blade in an 8-shaped pattern, slashing across Lion Ranger and Dragon Ranger’s armor.

 

The White Ranger turned back towards the Rangers. He swung his blade down in an x-shaped pattern, slashing across the Rangers’ armor with bursts of sparks.

 

Kimberly ran through the alley towards the scene. “Stop it Kou!”

 

Kimberly leapt forward while arming her morphers. “Chakra ignite!” Energy shimmered around her as she morphed into her Ranger form.

 

Kiba Ranger swung his blade, slashing Phoenix Ranger from the air while she passed over him.

 

The Rangers regrouped as Dragon Ranger helped the Pink Ranger to her feet.

 

Kiba Ranger snapped into a fighting stance and aimed his saber towards the Rangers.

 

“Kou!” Byakko shouted. “Stop this!”

 

“He is Gorma now!” Shadam yelled from the giant monster above.

 

Dragon Ranger glared up at the monster. “It’s about time I took you out…” He unsheathed his Thunder Sword and raised the blade towards the sky. “Thunderzord arise!”

 

Red Dragon swooped down from the skies.

 

Dragon Ranger combined his Thunder Sword and Star Cutter into a blaster. “Thunder Blaster!” he shot a white-energy grappling beam that wrapped around the dragon and reeled him towards his zord. The Red Ranger slid down into the zord’s cockpit.

 

“Red Dragon, rise up!” The zord surged with crimson lightning and started to change shape. Red Dragon transformed into a humanoid warrior and landed on the ground while stepping back into a fighting stance.

 

Dragon Ranger threw a kick from his cockpit that his zord mirrored by flying sidekicking the monster to the ground.

 

Back on the streets below, Kiba Ranger slashed Phoenix Ranger across the chest.

 

Lion Ranger moved in behind the White Ranger. Kiba Ranger spun around while swinging his blade horizontally, the blade sparking across Lion Ranger’s armor on impact.

 

Gara and Zydos joined the attack.

 

Zydos grabbed Kirin Ranger in a choke hold and lifted the Yellow Ranger off his feet. Zydos tossed Kirin Ranger backward, sending the Ranger crashing into a building.

 

Meanwhile Gara used her fencing foil to slash across the Blue Ranger’s armor.

 

Above, Red Dragon armed his black staff and swung the weapon across the monster’s chest, the staff’s edge sparking against the villain upon impact. The blow knocked the monster backward, and the Gorma crashed against the ground while smashing through part of a building.

 

The giant monster slowly climbed back to its feet and fired an energy blast that exploded against Red Dragon.

 

People ran in panic below as debris crashed down to the streets.

 

Kameo weaved through the crowd, running as fast as his bulky legs could carry him. “Guys!” Kameo shouted as he ran to the scene. “Hold on!”

 

The skies suddenly turned black. Red Dragon and the Gorma monster lowered their stances and looked up towards the skies as a rumbling sound approached.

 

A massive black dragon flew down from the clouds like a serpent. The creature roared, an ear-splitting sound that shattered windows and crumbled buildings.

 

On the streets, the Rangers looked up at the beast with utter shock. Each claw of the dragon was bigger than a zord. The beast was massive beyond description.

 

“That must be…” Kameo said.

 

“Oh no…” Kirin Ranger said.

 

“That’s one pissed off dragon,” Tenma Ranger said.

 

The dragon, Daijinnryu, crackled with energy as he flew towards the streets. Skyscrapers exploded, and the sides of buildings were blasted out by shockwaves from his decent.

 

Kiba Ranger, the Gorma, and everyone else below was almost hit with falling debris.

 

“You’ll pay for that!” Dragon Ranger shouted. “Thunder Chariot!”

 

The other four Thunderzords formed a flying chariot that streaked through the air. Red Dragon spun his staff like a helicopter propeller and landed on the chariot. The Thunder Chariot was like a mosquito to the dragon. The zords flew across the length of the monster while moving closer to its armored skin.

 

“That was too close,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

The black dragon landed on the streets, shaking the ground with a massive quake.

 

Red Dragon leapt off the Thunder Chariot and landed on the ground below. The Red Dragon looked up at the massive black creature. “Oh man, this is crazy,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

The black dragon looked down at the pachinko monster and stepped on it.

 

The monster returned to his normal form and stumbled across the streets while separating from Shadam. Shadam slowly rose to his feet as Zydos and Gara regrouped with him. They teleported away, blinking out of sight.

 

“Well,” Kirin Ranger said. “Whatever that thing is…it’s not with the Gorma.”

 

“That doesn’t make him any less friendly,” Tenma Ranger said.

 

The massive dragon opened its maw and looked down at the city beneath him. Streams of yellow-tinted energy poured forth that exploded against the ground and vaporized several city blocks.

 

***

 

In the lair, Kaku was thrown from his platform as the streets above shook with violent tremors. “Daijinnryu…” he said with fear.

 

***

 

The black dragon stood still.

 

The teens returned to their normal forms and spread out across the streets while helping people to their feet.

 

“Kou…” Kimberly said as she searched the alleys. “Where’s Kou?”

 

Billy spotted Kameo hunched over at the base of a damaged building. The ranger ran to his friend’s side.

 

“Billy,” Kameo said as he grasped onto the ranger’s shirt. “Billy, that was…that was…oh no!”

 

Tommy watched Kameo and Billy as he wrinkled his brow with anger. “Whatever it was, we have to figure out how to stop it,” he said to himself.

 

***

 

The rangers and Kameo regrouped in the lair with Kaku. The sensei crossed his arms behind his back as he faced his young charges. “The black dragon is known as Daijinnryu,” Kaku said.

 

Kameo nodded fearfully. “Nothing can stop it.”

 

“We have to try,” Tommy said.

 

“What does it want?” Billy asked. “It’s not a Gorma creation.”

 

“No,” Kaku said. “It’s worse…no one knows the true origins of the creature…only that it has deemed itself as a peacekeeper.”

 

“Hell of a peacekeeper,” Rocky said. “He makes George W. look like a boy scout.”

 

Kameo shook his head. “Daijinnryu must believe that the war we are fighting is becoming too loud…”

 

“Tell him we’ll keep it down and to get off our planet,” Tommy said.

 

“It is not that simple,” Kaku said. “Daijinnryu believes our war is becoming too violent, so if we do not stop, he will simply wipe out both sides.”

 

Adam slammed his hand against a wall. “This is ridiculous.”

 

Kaku nodded. “Yes.”

 

“Well what can we do?” Kimberly asked. “When the Gorma attack, we have to fight back.”

 

“Yeah…” Rocky said. “ It’s not like we can just knock on the Gorma’s door and ask them to stop.”

 

Kaku closed his eyes. He had an idea, one he did not want to share with the rangers.

 

Then the television monitor activated. The screen showed a reporter near the dragon. He screamed as the dragon opened its jaws and fired a blast of energy. The transmission cut out with a burst of static.

 

“Go,” Kaku instructed the others.

 

***

 

Kaku walked through hidden stone corridors in the lair. He used his Kiryoku to iris open a passage in the stone wall beside him. He stepped through, and the entrance slammed shut behind him.

 

Kaku stepped forward and sat cross-legged on a circular wooden slab. He used his Kiryoku to make the slab levitate with him sitting on it.

 

Kaku used his power to shoot down the stone corridors.

 

***

 

Five metallic spheres hovered around the floating inverted pyramid that served as the Gorma palace. The main chamber inside was dark, nearly pitch black except for a lit area that descended downward into the center of the chamber.

 

Two lines of pillars bordered a blood-red carpet that led towards a small stage. A golden gong with demonic etchings was on the platform. Gorma priests rang the symbol in alarm as someone descended the steps towards them, walking from the darkness.

 

It was Kaku.

 

“You!” Shadam shouted. He unsheathed his sword and ran to attack Kaku.

 

Kaku’s eyes flashed blue as an invisible shockwave pushed the three Gorma away. Kaku walked calmly, not breaking a step as he moved forward and stood below the gong. He reached down and pulled a wooden mask from a pedestal. He secured the mask over his face.

 

“What is he doing?” Gara asked.

 

A column started to rise beneath him, extending him upward several stories into the shadows. Kaku rose to the Gorma Emperor’s level. The emperor was on his hovering platform, humming to himself while playing cards.

 

The emperor laughed with insanity as he saw Kaku standing on the column. “Master Kaku, to what do I owe this pleasure, my old friend?”

 

Kaku slowly removed his mask. “Emperor…”

 

The emperor started to laugh. “If you were anyone else, I would kill you for removing that mask.” The emperor shuffled around some of his cards. “This war is progressing quite nicely, don’t you think?”

 

“We must call a truce,” Kaku said.

 

“A truce?” the emperor laughed. “I have heard this from you before…long ago.”

 

“It’s different this time,” Kaku said. “Daijinnryu will destroy you and your followers, as well as mine. None of us will be able to stop the dark dragon from doing so.”

 

The emperor nodded. “Daijinnryu is powerful…he’s already killed many innocents.” The emperor laughed. “The killing of innocents doesn’t trouble me…observe.”

 

The emperor’s third eye produced a beam that created an energy screen. It displayed the pachinko monster stomping through the streets. “Shadam is determined to bring the Kiba Ranger under his control…to our side…he doesn’t care who gets in his way or how many people die.”

 

***

 

The teens ran through the rubble along with Kameo. The black dragon was nowhere to be seen. They looked up at the giant Gorma monster.

 

“Looks like Shadam’s up to his old tricks,” Adam said.

 

“Let’s take him out,” Tommy said.

 

“No!” Kameo yelled. “Daijinnryu will come again! He doesn’t care what side you’re on! He’ll destroy you and the Gorma!”

 

“That doesn’t mean we can just sit on our thumbs and do nothing,” Rocky said.

 

Tommy nodded. “Let’s take care of business.”

 

The teens ran forward and armed their morphers.

 

“Stop!” Kameo shouted.

 

“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger armor.

 

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

 

The five Thunderzords appeared and charged 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 monster.

 

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!”

 

The MegaThunderzord slammed the back of its fist against the monster. The villain tossed a handful of pellets that exploded against the zord’s armor with a massive burst of spark.

 

“Is Shadam in there again?” Kirin Ranger asked.

 

“Doesn’t matter,” Dragon Ranger said. “We’re taking him out either way.”

 

***

 

The emperor laughed as he and Kaku watched the MegaThunderzord get bashed by the monster. “You see Kaku…I can’t quit now. My side is growing stronger…I’m winning.”

 

Kaku wrinkled his brow.

 

The emperor turned around to face Kaku. “Maybe if your side simply surrenders…and let’s us take this world.”

 

Kaku glared at the emperor.

 

Then the palace started to shake. Outside, Daijinnryu was pouring energy against the palace, causing the structure to rumble. One of the floating spheres broke apart, and its debris rained upon the inverted pyramid, causing it to tilt.

 

The emperor screamed as debris rained down. He was knocked from his pedestal but managed to grasp onto its edge to keep from plummeting towards his death. “Help!”

 

“Do you see!” Kaku yelled from his pillar. “It’s Daijinnryu.”

 

The emperor fell towards his death, but Kaku caught the emperor by the arm to save him.

 

“Kaku?” the emperor said in surprise.

 

“A truce!” Kaku said. “Call off your warriors and Daijinnryu will stop.”

 

“Yes!” the emperor shrieked. “Yes!”

 

***

 

MegaThunderzord slammed its fists against the monster. The opponents stopped fighting when the skies above turned black.

 

“Our old friend is back,” Tenma Ranger said.

 

The black dragon’s deafening roar shook the city as the creature swooped down from the clouds. The massive dragon landed against the streets with a massive shockwave. The creature lifted its foot and stepped on the Gorma monster, driving its golden talon through the monster and causing him to explode.

 

The dragon’s eyes flashed red. Invisible energy exploded against the Megazord, shooting the zord backward through several blocks as explosions rang across armor with a fury of sparks.

 

The MegaThunderzord broke into its individual components and scattered across the streets.

 

Dragon Ranger willed his Red Dragon to rise to its feet. “I’m not going down that easy!” Dragon Ranger shouted.

 

The black dragon lifted its massive foot and stomped towards the zord. Red Dragon rolled out of the way just as the foot crashed down.

 

“Tommy, get out of there!” Phoenix Ranger shouted.

 

“Tommy!” Kameo shouted as he ran across the streets below. He grasped his Thunder Gem. “Super Kidenjuu!” he shouted. “Daimugen!”

 

He clasped his hands over the crystal. Green light bled from the crystal and enveloped him as he shrunk into a turtle. His body immediately started to expand and form a massive zord. Bulky green armor wrapped around Daimugen, the carrier zord.

 

“Rise up!” Daimugen shouted. The zord tilted upward into warrior formation.

 

His front legs extended forward like hands. Barrels extended from the zord’s hands like fingers. The zord opened fire with rapid volleys of green energy lances that exploded against the Gorma monster, keeping the villain back.

 

“Dragon Ranger!” Daimugen shouted as the top part of his shell opened, revealing an empty chamber. “Inside!”

 

Red Dragon leapt aside to avoid getting stepped on. The Red Dragon leapt into the chamber. The shell sealed the zord inside. Daimugen funneled energy into Red Dragon to help the zord heal.

 

The massive dragon crashed his foot down on the carrier zord, but his armor protected him, despite the strain. Daimugen roared with strain as the black dragon pressed its massive foot down harder.

 

“Kameo!” Kirin Ranger shouted.

 

Daijinnryu’s eyes suddenly stopped glowing. The beast removed its foot from Daimugen.

 

“What’s he doing?” Lion Ranger asked.

 

Kirin Ranger shook his head. “I don’t know.”

 

Daijinnryu then flew off, snapping its massive tail with a crack of thunder while shooting towards the skies.

 

“He must have had enough fun for the day,” Tenma Ranger said.

 

***

 

The five teens gathered in front of Kaku within the lair. He had finished telling the rangers about his plan. They were not happy.

 

“A truce?!” Rocky said. “A truce?!”

 

Adam shook his head. “This is a bad idea.”

 

“Sensei…” Tommy said. “Why? You know the Gorma won’t honor it.”

 

“Their emperor now fears Daijinnryu, as he should,” Kaku said. “He will honor the truce.” Kaku left for his private chambers.

 

Tommy sighed. “Sensei…”

 

***

 

Kimberly was running through the streets searching for Kou. Debris still littered the ground, and emergency crews were working everywhere. She spotted Byakko amidst some rubble.

 

“Kimberly,” Byakko said as she picked him up.

 

“Where’s Kou?” she asked.

 

“I…I don’t know…”

 

***

 

In a deserted part of the destroyed city area, Kou walked alone through the foggy street with a blank stare on his face.

 

To be continued…Chapter 23