Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Twenty-Three

Jinn’s Last Dance

 

In a dark, dripping cave outside of Angel Grove, a Kyonshi paced back and forth in front of a cage. Jinn was chained inside the cage. The assassin was in his warrior form and appeared weak. Fatigued.

 

A Kyonshi entered the cage and walked towards Jinn to feed him. He seemed unconscious and was barely breathing.

 

The assassin suddenly snapped his eyes open and lunged towards the grunt. Jinn wrapped his chains around the soldier’s neck to strangle the grunt. The Kyonshi went limp and crashed to the ground.

 

Jinn lifted a set of keys from the soldier. The assassin used the keys to free himself from his chains.

 

***

 

The teens were playing a baseball game in the park, taking a break from the Gorma and Rangers. But Tommy’s mind drifted for some reason…

 

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 cannon monster. “Now.”

 

The cannon Gorma 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, thrashing 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.

 

Tommy shook his head to clear the memory. Why am I thinking about that now? he thought.

 

***

 

Zydos stared at the empty cage with anger and admiration. “So he’s escaped…he’s becoming more powerful than I thought…”

 

***

 

Tommy went into the woods to grab a fly ball. He gasped when he saw Jinn lying on the ground unconscious. The assassin looked only inches away from death. Good, was Tommy’s first reaction. But something inside of the teen stirred.

 

Tommy had always viewed Jinn as a dark mirror, a twisted reflection of what Tommy’s own life could have become. But the truth was, Jinn was no where near as evil as the Green Dragon Ranger had been.

 

Jinn did not murder in cold blood. He had a sense of honor, even though it was twisted. Did he deserve any less of a second chance than Tommy’s friends had given him?

 

Tommy’s mind flashed back…

 

The Power Rangers met the Green Dragon Ranger on the rooftop. He held the girl in his arm and pressed his blade against her throat. He wondered if the Rangers knew that the girl’s fate was sealed. Her death would enrage the Rangers, make them act on emotion and not think. Her death would throw the team off guard. That’s what Dragon Ranger wanted.

 

The Rangers stepped forward and tossed the chest containing the eggs onto the roof. Zordon had teleported them to the chest and brought them back to the exchange point.

 

“There,” Tyranno Ranger said. “Now let the girl go.”

 

“But of course,” Dragon Ranger said in an icy tone. He slit the girl’s neck and tossed her aside.

 

“NO!” Tyranno Ranger shouted as he and the others pounced forward.

 

Tommy rolled his hands into fists.

 

***

 

Jinn was bandaged and lying in Tommy’s bed. Tommy sat at his desk while keeping close watch over the assassin. Jinn stirred as his eyes slowly opened.

 

“You’re awake,” Tommy said.

 

“Bastard!” Jinn hissed. He tried to sit up, but gasped in pain while clutching his chest.

 

“Lay down,” Tommy said. “You’ve been hurt badly. You can insult me after you’ve healed.”

 

Tommy pushed Jinn back down, but Jinn knocked his hands out of the way. “Stop!”

 

Jinn stumbled from bed, his balance off as he assumed a weak and faltering fighting stance. “I don’t need your help,” he said as he gasped in pain. “Now let us continue our fight.”

 

Jinn keeled over in pain.

 

“Jinn,” Tommy said as he walked over to help him. Jinn knocked Tommy’s hands away.

 

***

 

Tommy was talking to his friends in the lair. They were less than pleased to learn about his decision regarding Jinn.

 

“Are you insane?!” Rocky said. “He’s tried to kill you.”

 

Billy nodded. “Rocky’s right…and is it safe to leave him in your house? With your family?”

 

“My family is out of town this weekend.” Tommy shook his head. “Besides, Jinn’s not what you think, guys.”

 

“Oh, he’s not a cold-blooded homicidal maniac?” Rocky said.

 

Kimberly shook her head. “Tommy…maybe they’re right.”

 

“No,” Tommy said firmly. “He’s honorable…just…misguided. I used to be too, remember?”

 

“That was different,” Billy said. “You were under a spell.”

 

“And under that spell, I did worse than Jinn ever did,” Tommy said as he walked out.

 

***

 

Jinn was sitting up in bed when Tommy walked in. The teen carried a small white bag over to the assassin. “Hey,” Tommy said. “I bought you some food. It’ll help you get your strength back.”

 

Jinn knocked the food away.

 

“Well…at least you’re still as quick as ever,” Tommy said as he picked up the mess.

 

Jinn stared down at Tommy with confusion. Why is this boy showing me mercy? I’ve almost killed him on more than one occasion…

 

***

 

Night came. Two lovers were sitting at a park bench while staring up at the stars. A bulky skeleton monster that appeared wolf-like pounced against the two lovers from behind. He ripped through them with his claws and bit their necks with his fangs.

 

***

 

Jinn awoke early the next morning. He turned his head to see Tommy asleep with his head on his desk. He was shifting uncomfortably as he talked in his sleep. “Kimberly…” Jinn grinned. To be young again…

 

When Jinn saw his wrist, he froze in shock. There was a thick white bone running down the middle of his forearm. “It can’t be…”

 

Tommy yawned as he woke up, wiping the sleep from his eyes. “You’re up early,” Tommy said as he stood and stretched. “How are your wounds?”

 

“No!” Jinn yelled. “Stay away.”

 

Tommy wrinkled his brow. “Jinn?” What’s the matter with him?

 

***

 

Jinn calmed down later in the day. He was sitting in a wheelchair as Tommy pushed the assassin outside of the hospital.

 

“Well,” Tommy said. “The doctor said you should be up on your feet by tomorrow. Bet you’ll be glad to have me out of your hair.”

 

“Tommy…” Jinn said, his gaze stern as he searched for the right words. “Why have you helped me?”

 

Tommy shrugged. “You’re as much a victim of the Gorma as anyone else. And besides…I believe everyone deserves a second chance. Me, my Dad…you…”

 

Jinn nodded. “I believe if circumstances were different…we would find ourselves fighting on the same side.”

 

Tommy nodded. “Me too…and it can still be that way.”

 

Jinn shook his head. “No…” He turned his head slightly over his left shoulder. “But…if I ever try to hurt anyone again…” he pointed to a spot on the left side of his chest. “Strike me down here.”

 

Tommy knitted his brow with confusion and shook his head. “What are you talking about?”

 

Jinn’s body suddenly started to spasm. He collapsed to the ground while gasping in pain. His heart was pounding in his chest. His nails started to grow longer and thicker.

 

“Jinn!” Tommy leaned down to help him.

 

Jinn grabbed Tommy by the shirt and pulled the teen down to eye level. “Remember what I told you.”

 

Jinn pushed Tommy away and ran towards the park.

 

***

 

The skeleton monster chased school girls through the park. Its jaws were dripping with blood from its latest kill.

 

Rocky leapt out as if from nowhere and slammed a sidekick against the creature, knocking the villain off his feet. Rocky landed as Adam, Billy, and Kimberly regrouped around him.

 

Adam snapped into a fighting stance. “That truce lasted about as long as expected,” Adam said.

 

“Anyone who’s surprised, please raise your right hand,” Rocky said.

 

The creature rolled back onto its feet and sprang forward to attack.

 

The four rangers armed their braces. “Chakra ignite!” Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

The villain streaked past the Rangers in a blur of motion while slashing across their chests with his claws sparking on impact. The Rangers crashed against the ground, but quickly rolled into crouched fighting stances as the villain charged forward towards them again.

 

The creature pounced quickly and slashed Lion Ranger, Kirin Ranger, and Phoenix Ranger across their armor with his claws.

 

The villain swung his claw towards Tenma Ranger, but the Blue Ranger caught the villain’s arm and hurled him through the air. The creature tumbled across the ground.

 

Tenma Ranger dashed forward with a Star Blade in each hand. He hurled one of the weapons forward. The blade went spinning forward and slashed across the monster with a massive spark that burst under the creature’s bony skin.

 

The monster clutched its injured, smoking chest and ran off towards the trees.

 

***

 

“Jinn!” Tommy called as he ran through the woods.

 

Tommy spotted Jinn leaning on a park bench. He was nursing a wound on his chest and breathing heavily. Tommy ran towards him while the other teens dashed from the other end of the park.

 

Rocky opened his eyes wide as he recognized the wound on Jinn‘s chest. “Tommy, get away from him!”

 

Jinn lunged from the bench and grabbed Tommy in a chokehold. The assassin swung a hook punch across the ranger’s face. The teen went crashing backward and tumbled across the ground.

 

Jinn’s body started to contort as his skin peeled away. He transformed into the skeleton monster as a deep howl echoed from his monstrous lungs.

 

“What the hell?” Tommy said. The rangers regrouped and snapped into fighting stances.

 

Zydos teleported into the area, blinking into sight. “Rangers…” he said as he stepped forward.

 

“Zydos,” Tommy said as the rangers turned to face the villain.

 

Zydos extended his arm towards Jinn. “Do you like what I’ve done with him? I’ve turned him into the perfect mindless killing machine. Garouki, the Hungry Demon Wolf.”

 

“You bastard!” Tommy yelled.

 

“Kill them!” Zydos yelled.

 

The creature pounced forward to attack. The rangers dove to the side and rolled for cover. The teens rose back to their feet and stepped back into defensive stances.

 

“Jinn,” Tommy said. “You can’t let them control you. Fight it!”

 

“It’s no use, Tommy,” Adam said.

 

The monster energized a plasma blade along his forearm and hurled the blade forward. The energy discharge exploded around the teens, knocking them from their feet and sending them flying through the air.

 

Before they landed, they shouted “Aura Power!” They connected their braces and morphed into their Ranger armor as they landed.

 

Jinn activated two plasma blades along each arm and hurled them forward. The Rangers tried to dive aside, but they were not fast enough. Each blade exploded across the Rangers’ armor with massive bursts of spark that tore across their armor.

 

Dragon Ranger rolled to his knees. He remembered what Jinn had told him. “If I ever try to hurt anyone again…” he pointed to a spot on the left side of his chest. “Strike me down here.”

 

Dragon Ranger unsheathed his Thunder Sword. “I’m sorry Jinn,” he said quietly as he leapt through the air and stabbed his sword through the creature’s weak spot. The monster growled with pain and slammed the back of his fist across the Red Ranger’s helmet.

 

The Thunder Sword was still stuck in the creature’s chest.

 

“Jinn!” Zydos shouted.

 

“You won’t have me this easily, Zydos!” Jinn shouted through the monster. He wrapped his hand around the blade and pushed it deeper. The monster howled, above Jinn’s determined strain.

 

Dragon Ranger understood. Jinn was not trying to kill himself. He was trying to dig the monster out somehow.

 

Zydos extended his hand and fired a blue energy pulse that streaked towards the creature.

 

“No!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he leapt forward to push the creature aside.

 

The blast exploded against Dragon Ranger and the creature, knocking them backward and sending them stumbling across the ground. Tommy’s armor was forcibly powered down by the blast. And the monster was ripped from Jinn with a violent flash of mystical light.

 

Jinn went rolling across the ground. He had returned to his normal form.

 

“Tommy!” the other Rangers shouted as they ran towards their leader, but a group of Kyonshi appeared and blocked their path.

 

Tommy moved towards Jinn’s side and leaned down towards the assassin. “Jinn…are you okay?”

 

Kyonshi surrounded them, circling around the ranger and the assassin. Jinn and Tommy narrowed their eyes as the soldiers dashed back and forth, waiting for the right moment to strike. Tommy and Jinn looked to each other and nodded.

 

Jinn and Tommy rose to their feet, stood back-to-back, and snapped into fighting stances as Kyonshi moved around them.

 

“Si-kuya!” Tommy shouted as he and Jinn pounced forward and attacked. The pair acted with a flawless symphony of kicks and punches that crashed against the grunts, knocking soldiers aside faster than the villains could even attack.

 

Tommy launched a jumpkick upside a soldier’s head and spun forward with a reverse hook kick that smashed across a grunt’s head.

 

Jinn snapped a soldier’s throat and leaned to the left while slamming a knifehand chop against a second grunt’s neck.

 

A soldier swung his staff towards Tommy. Tommy rolled underneath the blow while morphing into his armor. Red energy shimmered around him as he rose to his feet. Dragon Ranger turned and blocked a blow before slamming a round kick against the grunt’s head.

 

Jinn slammed the heel of his palm against a soldier’s face. He kept his palm extended forward when the grunt fell. “Oniken henge.”

 

Jinn flashed with crimson energy as he transformed into his warrior form and leapt forward, slamming a screw kick against a Kyonshi.

 

Jinn pushed off the Kyonshi and leapt through the air. The assassin landed in a crouched position in front of Zydos and pounced forward. Jinn slammed his metal fist against the Gorma’s face.

 

Zydos crashed back against the ground and skid across the dirt. He slowly climbed back to his feet and glared at Zydos. “You’ll pay for that, Jinn!” Zydos yelled.

 

“Let’s go!” Jinn shouted as he snapped forward with a jumpkick that slammed upside the Gorma’s head. Jinn snapped a roundkick that Zydos blocked. Jinn slammed the back of his metal fist across the Gorma’s face while spinning forward with a reverse sidekick that slammed against the villain’s chest.

 

Zydos lunged forward and grabbed Jinn in a chokehold. Zydos lifted the assassin by the throat and hurled him through the air.

 

Jinn twisted through midair and landed in a fighting stance before springing forward. “Spider Fist!” Jinn launched a flurry of speeding punches that slammed into Zydos at turbo speed.

 

Zydos managed to catch the last punch by wrapping his hand around the assassin’s wrist. Zydos opened his jaw and spat a sphere of blue fire that exploded against the assassin with a massive burst of spark.

 

Meanwhile the Rangers energized and leapt forward in streaks of light to attack the creature. One by one, the Rangers slammed their Thunder Staffs against the monster, knocking it backward.

 

The Rangers regrouped. “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 into the cannon. 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 team powered down.

 

The rangers saw Jinn in his normal guise. He was lying on the ground, badly injured. Zydos was nowhere in sight. “Jinn!” Tommy shouted as he ran over towards the assassin.

 

Jinn, although his body was bruised and broken, slowly rose to his feet. He lifted his hands into a fighting position and stepped back into a square stance while looking at Tommy. “Let us continue.”

 

Tommy said nothing. He stepped back into a fighting stance and faced off with his opponent for the last time.

 

The other rangers watched with confusion. The rivalry, if it even was rivalry anymore, between Tommy and Jinn had become too strange for them to understand.

 

“They can’t be serious,” Kimberly whispered.

 

The two launched at each other and started exchanging blows, kicks slamming against blocks and forearms deflecting punches. Neither of them gained the upper hand. They dashed back and forth across the park. Because Jinn was weakened, Tommy slipped a punch past Jinn’s defenses.

 

But the ranger stopped his fist a centimeter from Jinn’s face.

 

That was when Jinn knew. They could never truly test each other. One of them could never truly win. Tommy in particular was not willing to deliver a final blow.

 

“Impressive…or at least it would have been.” Jinn brushed Tommy’s arm aside before turning and starting to walk away.

 

“Wait…where…” Tommy started to say.

 

Jinn kept walking, his legs barely able to support his weakened frame. “You’ve beaten me…surpassed me.” He smiled. “Thank you, Tommy. It was an honor fighting against you…and alongside you.” Jinn limped away.

 

***

 

The sun was setting in the mountains outside the city.

 

Jinn had limped for miles, his body too stubborn to give up and die. He had lost a lot of blood. His bones were broken.

 

In the distance, Jinn saw Zydos step forward with a massive army of Kyonshi. The villain had a smug grin on his face as he watched Jinn move like a wounded animal.

 

Zydos extended his hand. The first wave of Kyonshi charged forward.

 

Jinn slowly reached into his pocket, summoning every last ounce of his strength for what he knew would be his final battle. He would not go down fighting. He flipped the coin into the air and charged forward, screaming a war cry as he raised his hands in a fighting stance.

 

Seconds seemed to slow to minutes as Jinn met the enemy advance.

 

He knocked a soldier’s saber away. And he slammed a hook punch across the grunt’s head. His fist crushed the grunt’s skull. A second soldier charged forward. Jinn swung his elbow towards the soldier. His elbow smashed against the grunt’s face.

 

Jinn swung a hook kick towards a Kyonshi. His heel smashed against the soldier’s head. The villain’s skull was crushed from the blow.

 

Only sheer force of will kept him alive. His muscles tore as he fought through the villains. Not a bone in his body was un-fractured. Yet he kept moving, delivering blow after blow against an enemy that knew no honor.

 

Jinn smashed past the last soldier in the first wave and dashed forward, howling another war cry, determined to take every last villain down with him.

 

The second wave of Kyonshi lifted rifles from behind their backs. They aimed forward and fired, the sound of bullets tore through their air.

 

 

The sounds stopped. Only quiet.

 

Jinn’s coin landed in the dirt.

 

To be continued…Chapter 24