Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Twenty-Five
A Mother’s Ring
Kimberly leaned over the rail on her apartment balcony. Her thoughts drifted to Kou. They had not seen the boy in days. Was the poor boy doomed to nothing but a life of pain? Hadn’t he suffered enough?
Tommy walked behind her and placed his arm around her shoulder. “We’ll find him, Kim,” he said.
She nodded, hoping that Tommy was right.
Akomaru slowly walked towards a small hut in the woods just outside of Angel Grove’s Chinatown. The boy lifted his whistle and blew on the device, emitting a winding sound. The sound summoned a creature in a flash of silver light.
The monster’s oblong body was bestial and covered with silver horns. The villain’s skin was blue/purple, and he had a Gorma third eye in the center of his forehead. The monster was Akomaru’s pet, named Silver Horns.
“Prepare yourself,” Akomaru told the creature. No other words were needed.
A group of kids played soccer in the park nearby. They were playing for fun, dressed in jerseys of their favorite hockey or basketball stars - which did not make sense, but they enjoyed it anyway.
One of the kids accidentally kicked the soccer ball into the woods nearby. Several kids ran after the ball and chased it to a small patch of dirt. The kids noticed strange footprints when they leaned over to get the ball. The strange prints led deeper into the woods.
“Let’s follow it,” they said and they followed the prints deeper into the woods. They followed the prints to a small hut in the woods just outside of Angel Grove’s Chinatown.
The kids were intrigued. They leaned towards the hut and peered inside through cracks on the wall. They saw a woman, Kou’s mother, bound with chains as she cried on the floor. Akomaru was standing over her, glaring.
“Akomaru,” she pleaded. “Stop this…you’re-”
“Silence, woman! I didn’t escape the depths of hell to listen to you babble.”
“Stop this!” she pleaded as she grabbed a hold of him.
The kids each took a step back from the wall, shocked at what they saw. They heard a hissing growl come from behind. They turned and froze in their tracks when they saw Akomaru’s silver-horned creature glaring at them. They screamed and ran back towards the woods.
Akomaru burst from the hut and watched the kids flee. The young Gorma hated intruders. “Don’t let them get away,” he said to his monster.
The kids made it away from the wilderness and closer to the parkland when they stumbled upon a park trail. Kimberly was walking along the trail, searching for Kou, when the kids nearly crashed against her.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
The kids yelled about a monster and asked for help, frantically waving their hands.
“One at a time,” she said. “What’s wrong?”
They told Kimberly about the woman being held captive and the boy. Kimberly did not ask any further questions. Somehow, she knew. She knew the woman was Kou’s mother. She could feel it.
An energy blade suddenly whizzed towards them. Kimberly pushed the kids aside and dove for cover as the blade passed by them. Kimberly rolled across the ground and rose into a crouched position. She looked up to see Akomaru’s pet step forward from the trees.
“Run,” she told the kids. She did not have to ask them twice.
Kimberly armed her morphers and leapt towards the creature. “Aura Power!” She connected her braces. Energy shimmered around her as she morphed into her Ranger form.
Phoenix Ranger unsheathed her sword and slashed downward across the villain while landing, her sword sparking on impact. She spun forward while twirling her blade and slashed the monster with a horizontal strike.
Phoenix Ranger turned and swung her blade back down towards the creature, but the monster grabbed the Pink Ranger’s sword with its claws and twisted the weapon downward.
The monster extended its other hand and fired a jagged burst of purple energy that exploded against the Pink Ranger and knocked her backward. Phoenix Ranger crashed against the ground.
Kyonshi blinked to the scene and rushed forward to attack.
She rose to her knees and activated her communicator. “Guys. I need help.”
A soldier rushed towards her. Phoenix Ranger low blocked the grunt’s saber strike and slammed her elbow against the villain’s chest. Another grunt rushed towards her from ahead. Phoenix Ranger snapped an outer crescent kick that bashed the soldier aside.
Kaku alerted the others.
The four Rangers throttled through the park on their Thunder Cycles. They hoped whatever battle awaited them would not bring on the wrath of the black dragon. They kicked themselves for thinking, even for only a second, that a truce with the Gorma was feasible.
Phoenix Ranger armed her Star Blade and spun forward while slashing through a soldier’s body. She slammed a jump kick upside a second soldier’s head and chopped the Star Blade down through the back of a third soldier’s neck.
The Thunder Cycles rode onto the scene.
Dragon Ranger leapt off his cycle and armed his Thunder Staff while jumping towards the monster. The Red Ranger smashed his staff across the villain’s head and spun forward while slamming his staff across the villain’s body.
Kirin Ranger, Tenma Ranger, and Lion Ranger split up and slammed against the soldiers. They armed their Thunder Staffs and used the weapons to smash through the soldiers.
Phoenix Ranger spun a roundhouse kick that bashed a soldier aside. She flipped a second soldier over her shoulder and slammed the grunt against the ground. The Pink Ranger broke through the last of the grunts and ran further into the woods.
“Kimberly!” Dragon Ranger shouted.
Tenma Ranger yelled towards her. “We usually don’t leave until after we’ve beaten the bad guys.”
“It’s Kou’s mother!” Phoenix Ranger called back as she continued to run.
Phoenix Ranger approached the hut.
Akomaru was standing outside and narrowed his eyes as the Pink Ranger approached. Akomaru extended his hand towards the Ranger. “Kyonshi!”
Another group of soldiers appeared in front of the hut and charged forward to attack the Pink Ranger. Phoenix Ranger front flipped forward and crashed her heels downward across a soldier’s head. She spun forward while slamming a knifehand strike against a grunt and slammed a jump kick upside another soldier’s head.
Phoenix Ranger slowly worked her way through the wave of grunts while launching a flurry of kicks and knifehand chops.
Meanwhile, a group of grunts dragged Kou’s mother from the hut and tossed her into Akomaru’s chariot. A pair of grunts grabbed the chariot and started dragging it away towards the distance.
Phoenix Ranger pushed forward, but more Kyonshi appeared and surrounded her. The Pink Ranger roundkicked a grunt in the side and spun forward, slamming a reverse hook kick across another grunt’s face.
Akomaru blew his whistle to summon his pet.
In the distance, the monster slashed its claws across the Red Ranger’s armor with a burst of spark. Dragon Ranger crashed backward and rolled across the ground. Kyonshi scattered around him and closed in to attack.
The monster armed an enlargement bomb and tossed it to the ground. The bomb exploded, and the monster absorbed the energy from the explosion while using it to grow giant.
Dragon Ranger spinning-heel kicked a grunt aside, unsheathed his sword, and raised the blade towards the skies. “Thunderzord arise! Red Dragon!”
Red Dragon swooped downward towards its tamer. Dragon Ranger used his Thunder Blaster like a grappling hook to reel himself onto his zord. Red Ranger hopped into the cockpit embedded within the zord’s armor.
“Red Dragon, rise up!” Dragon Ranger shouted. Red Dragon crackled with tendrils of crimson energy and assumed his humanoid warrior form. The zord landed and faced off with Akomaru‘s pet.
“Kimberly,” Dragon Ranger shouted down to her. “Don’t let them get away with Kou’s mother. I’ll handle big and ugly.”
Phoenix Ranger knife-hand chopped a soldier away from her. “Right.”
Above, Red Dragon charged forward and slammed a kick against the giant monster. The creature knocked the zord’s leg away and slashed its claws across the zord’s armor.
Red Dragon pressed forward and slammed two knifehand strikes against the monster. The creature emitted jagged streams of sonic energy that exploded against Red Dragon and knocked the zord backwards as explosions thrashed across armor. Red Dragon slammed against the ground.
The monster fired jagged streams of energy that streaked upwards through the skies before crashing back down towards the zord, exploding across Red Dragon’s armor and ripping through the woods.
Fires started to burn below. The Kyonshi kept pulling Kou’s mother away. “Help me!” Kou’s mother shouted, but Phoenix Ranger was still surrounded by soldiers.
Phoenix Ranger kept pushing the past the soldiers, snapping kicks and blocking blows. She was growing more and more fatigued with each strike. But she kept fighting. She had to reach the woman. She had to save her for Kou.
Kou was sleeping in a cave. He suddenly sat up as white energy flashed around him. His eyes stared ahead like blank slates. White energy shimmered around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.
Phoenix Ranger unsheathed her Star Cutter and slashed a grunt across the chest with a single movement. The other Rangers were nearby, using their Thunder Staffs to clear some of the grunts away from the Pink Ranger.
The skies above turned black. A deafening roar tore through the entire city. Daijinnryu moved down from the clouds like a massive serpent. The demon dragon snapped its tail, a sound like thunder, as it arced down towards Angel Grove.
Red Dragon looked up as the massive dragon stretched as far as they could see, streaking deeper towards the city. The Gorma monster took advantage of the distraction and slashed its claws across the zord repeatedly, each claw sparking upon impact.
A golden saber then slashed across Red Dragon. The saber belonged to the White Tigerzord.
“The White Tigerzord?!” Dragon Ranger said as he saw the white-armored zord through his cockpit.
“Let’s go, Ranger,” Kiba Ranger said. His voice sounded deep and metallic.
“Kou!” his mother screamed up at him.
Kiba Ranger loaded a transparent crystal sphere into his console. “White Tiger Thunderbolt!” Kiba Ranger shouted.
Bursts of fiery electrified energy shot from the zord and exploded against Red Dragon with a burst of spark, thrashing across the zord’s armor.
“Kou stop!” Dragon Ranger shouted. “You don’t know what you’re doing!”
Below, Kyonshi kept pulling Kou’s mother away as Phoenix Ranger followed, slamming past Kyonshi as fast as she could. But the wave of Kyonshi grew thicker. The Pink Ranger’s momentum slowed as Kou’s mother was taken further away.
“Stop!” Phoenix Ranger shouted as she slammed a knifehand against the back of a soldier’s neck.
Kou’s mother was dragged further away. She pulled off a ring from her right hand and tossed it towards the Pink Ranger. The ring arced through the air before Phoenix Ranger leapt upwards and grabbed it.
Meanwhile the other three Rangers bashed through soldiers and moved closer to Phoenix Ranger. They looked up into the sky as the massive demon dragon howled again.
“Daijinnryu!” Kirin Ranger shouted.
“We must have been too noisy,” Tenma Ranger said.
The massive black dragon entered the city and landed among buildings, creating a massive shockwave that shattered rubble. The shockwave extended towards the edge of the park, slamming against the two zords and monster with a flurry of sparks while knocking them aside.
The Rangers and Gorma scattered after Daijinnryu landed.
Wounded, Kou limped through his cavern and laid down on a rock. He closed his eyes. “What’s happening…” he whispered. “Where are you, mother…mother…”
Daijinnryu towered above the city, the tallest skyscrapers not even reaching his knees. The black dragon stood still, its body rigid.
Sensei Kaku stood on a nearby rooftop and looked out at the black dragon. The five rangers arrived on the rooftop and ran towards him. “Sensei!” Tommy shouted as he and the others regrouped around Kaku.
They stood silently for a moment before Kaku started to speak. “The Gorma’s attacks have drawn out the black dragon once more,” Kaku said.
“They were holding someone hostage,” Rocky said.
Kimberly nodded. “It was Kou’s mother, but they took her.”
“Speaking of Kou,” Billy said. “I can’t believe he attacked us again.”
Byakko peaked his head out from Tommy’s jacket. “His Gorma side is growing stronger. With the Tiger Brand weakened by Akomaru, there’s no way to stop him from becoming evil.”
“There’s always a way,” Adam said.
Tommy nodded. “We just have to find it.”
Kimberly reached into her pocket and pulled Kou’s mother’s ring from her pocket. She held the ring in her right palm and ran her left fingers along its gold band.
“What is that?” Tommy asked.
“Kou’s mother’s ring,” Kimberly said. “She tossed it to me before the Kyonshi took her.”
The Triumvirate gathered in a field. Five Gorma spheres hovered in the skies above them. Each sphere was invisible to the human eye. The three Gorma were speaking with Akomaru, and the boy had his back to them.
“Your pet brought the black dragon again,” Shadam said. “The emperor will be displeased.”
“I have other things to worry about besides the black dragon…or even the emperor.”
Shadam grinned. “The Kiba Ranger? You may have been able to release his Rinki somehow…but it was I who ignited that power. It was I who woke him to attack the Rangers.”
Akomaru turned at them and grinned, a glimmer of evil in his arrogant eyes. “You know nothing of the Kiba Ranger. I do. He will be mine…and together, we will rule the Gorma side by side.” Akomaru laughed as he teleported away, blinking out of sight.
“That boy!” Gara shouted. “What knowledge can he possibly have that we don’t?”
Shadam wrinkled his brow. “I intend to find out.”
“We need to do something…” Zydos said. “We have to fight.”
Gara shook her head. “The emperor won’t allow it. Daijinnryu would kill us all."
Shadam clenched his jaw and tightened his fists.
The Gorma Emperor was in his private chambers. He was picking at a string when Shadam suddenly appeared behind him. The emperor was startled as he turned to face Shadam.
“Shadam…” The two Gorma stared at each other for a moment. “How dare you sneak up on your master…hmm…answer me!”
An evil grin crossed Shadam‘s face.
Kimberly sat on her apartment couch. She held the ring in her palm and looked down at it. “Why did you give this to me? What am I supposed to do with it?”
Her eyes opened wide as a thought struck her. She activated her communicator. “Guys, come to my apartment, quick!”
“A Thunder Gem?” Tommy asked.
Kimberly nodded. “I’m sure of it. And if I’m right, that means it would respond to our gems.”
Rocky shrugged. “It can’t hurt…unless we drop one of our gems on our toes or something.”
The rangers pulled out their Heaven-Star Thunder Gems and held them in a circle around the ring. The ring pulsed with white light and started hovering out the window.
“Let’s follow it,” Tommy said as he and the others ran outside.
“No!” Akomaru shouted at his father. “Have you gone mad!”
Akomaru and the Gorma Triumvirate were in an industrial district near the shoreline. They were standing outside a warehouse that had been heavily populated with workers, until Akomaru’s pet got hungry.
Shadam shook his head. “I’m pulling in your rings. If you don’t stand down…I’ll kill you.”
Akomaru blew his whistle and summoned his monster with a burst of dark light. “You’re welcome to try! I know more about what’s going on than you, Shadam! You will stand back and leave things to me. I’m the only chance you have at seeing this world fall! Kill them!”
Silver Horns charged forward to attack.
Shadam looked to his companions. “Gara, Zydos, take care of this.”
Zydos and Gara charged forward towards the creature. Gara armed her fencing-type saber while Zydos depended on his brute strength.
With the creature distracted, Shadam walked towards the warehouse to see what Akomaru had hidden inside.
Shadam entered the dimly-lit warehouse. He turned a corner and stopped in his tracks at what he saw. Kou’s mother was bound in chains on the ground. The mother’s eyes opened wide with fear.
Shadam was practically speechless. His eyes opened wide, then quickly narrowed. “It…can’t be.”
The mother shook her head. “Shadam…” she said, her voice thick with pain.
Shadam clenched his jaw as every muscle in his body tightened with anger. “You’re still alive!”
Akomaru burst into the warehouse and moved towards Shadam. “Stop!”
Shadam clenched his jaw and glared at Akomaru. His eyes darted back down to the mother. “You…” Shadam growled. “Being held captive by your own offspring…you always were a weak mistress.”
Akomaru’s eyes opened wide with shock. His muscles tightened as the realization sank in. Akomaru narrowed his eyes and glared at his mother. “You…the one who abandoned me…”
“Akomaru,” his mother pleaded as she shook her head.
“Silence!” Akomaru yelled.
“You are pathetic, Akomaru,” Shadam said. “To have her here this whole time and not realize. She is the reason I hate you, boy. It was because of you that she ran from me.”
Akomaru rolled his hands into fists and glared at his mother. “You took Kou. You chose him over me.”
“Kou…” Shadam said, unaware his former mistress had bore twins. Then it hit him. “Kou…my other son…the Kiba Ranger.”
A glowing ring suddenly hovered into the warehouse. It was Kou’s mother’s ring. It had led the rangers onto the scene. The teens ran into the warehouse and snapped into fighting stances when they spotted Shadam and Akomaru.
“Gorma,” Tommy cursed.
“Leave Kou’s mother alone,” Kimberly said.
Shadam opened his jaw and spat blue spheres of fire at the teens. The spheres exploded around them and blasted them outside.
They armed their morphers while being thrown backward. Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger armor.
The Rangers rolled back to their feet as Kyonshi surrounded them.
Dragon Ranger slammed a round kick against a soldier’s gut and chopped a knifehand blow against the back of the grunt’s neck. He turned to his right, blocked another blow, and right-outer crescent kicked the soldier, bashing his heel across the grunt’s head.
A Kyonshi moved in towards the Red Ranger’s right and swung a staff downward. Dragon Ranger turned and blocked the blow before slamming a sidekick against the soldier’s face, bashing its head in.
Lion Ranger twirled his staff through a series of arcs while spinning past three soldiers. His staff crashed against the villains, crushing their skulls and cracking their bones. The Green Ranger used his staff to pole vault forward and scissor kicked two grunts aside.
Tenma Ranger jump kicked a soldier upside the head. He spun forward while moving low, sweep kicking the legs out from underneath a second grunt. The Blue Ranger rose back to full height while blocking a soldier’s staff. Tenma Ranger slammed the back of his fist across the grunt’s head. Tenma Ranger turned to his left and snapped an outer crescent kick across a soldier’s head, bashing his heel against its skull.
Nearby, Gara armed her fencing-type saber and dashed towards the Blue Ranger.
Tenma Ranger spotted her approach through the corner of his visor. “Gara…”
She slashed upward diagonally, her blade sparking across the Ranger’s armor upon impact.
Meanwhile, Zydos moved towards Kirin Ranger. The Yellow Ranger slammed a round kick against a soldier’s head and smashed the back of his fist against the grunt’s face.
Zydos grabbed Kirin Ranger by the throat and slammed an uppercut punch against the Yellow Ranger’s gut.
Nearby, Phoenix Ranger charged back towards the warehouse. The Pink Ranger moved in low and kicked the legs out from under a soldier. She rose back to full height and flipped a Kyonshi over her shoulder.
The Pink Ranger was moving near the hole in the warehouse wall, where Akomaru stood in front of his mother. The Gorma boy watched the Pink Ranger’s advance. She slammed her palm heel upside a soldier’s head and spun forward while slamming an axe kick against another grunt’s collar bone.
She palm heeled a soldier in front of her, elbowed a soldier behind her, and outer crescent kicked the first soldier.
Phoenix Ranger ran towards Kou’s mom, but Akomaru extended his hand and fired a sphere of blue fire from his palm. The energy sphere exploded against the Pink Ranger’s armor and knocked her backward.
Akomaru blew his whistle, giving his pet an unspoken command. The monster used an enlarging bomb to grow giant.
Dragon Ranger unsheathed his Thunder Sword and held the blade towards the air while grasping his Thunder Gem. “Thunderzord arise! Red Dragon!”
Red Dragon swooped downward towards its tamer. Dragon Ranger used his Thunder Blaster like a grappling hook to reel himself onto his zord. Red Ranger hopped into the cockpit embedded within the zord’s armor.
“Red Dragon, rise up!” Dragon Ranger shouted. Red Dragon crackled with tendrils of crimson energy and assumed his humanoid warrior form. The zord landed and faced off with Akomaru’s pet.
“Dragon Staff!” Dragon Ranger shouted. Red Dragon armed his black staff and slammed the weapon across the monster, sparking on impact.
The monster’s eye lit up. The creature fired blinding, jagged streams of energy that exploded against Red Dragon with a massive burst of spark that tore across the zord’s armor.
Daijinnryu still stood in the city and cast a looming shadow that spanned countless city blocks. The black dragon stirred, sensing the battle’s disturbance, despite the distance.
Kaku still watched from the rooftops with growing concern. “What will you do…Daijinnryu…”
The other four Rangers continued their battle. Unnatural darkness had stretched over the skies above.
Gara wrapped a red energy tentacle around Lion Ranger and lifted him from his feet. She sent pulses of electricity along the energy strand that exploded against the Green Ranger’s armor with a flurry of sparks.
Nearby, Tenma Ranger armed his blaster as dozens of soldiers charged towards him. “Thunder Blaster!” The Blue Ranger fired lances of cyan energy that exploded against soldiers, knocking them backward as sparks ripped across their bodies.
Tenma Ranger moved to his side and fired another burst of blue energy lances that exploded against another wave of Kyonshi.
Shadam extended his hand towards the Blue Ranger. The Gorma fired a sphere of flame from his palm that exploded against Tenma Ranger with a burst of spark that knocked him off his feet.
Meanwhile Zydos tossed Kirin Ranger, sending him crashing to the ground.
Phoenix Ranger was battling through soldiers towards Akomaru and his mom. Akomaru narrowed his eyes.
“Stop her…stop her!” Akomaru blew his whistle to signal his giant pet.
The giant looked downward and fired an optic pulse that exploded against the ground, creating a massive shockwave of rolling fire that knocked the Pink Ranger and Kyonshi backward.
“Kimberly!” Dragon Ranger shouted. “You’ll pay for that, horn head!”
Red Dragon slammed a kick against the creature and slammed his staff against the monster.
“No!” Kou’s mother broke free as she ran to Phoenix Ranger. She dropped to her knees at the Pink Ranger’s side, tears running down her cheeks as she looked towards Shadam. “Haven’t you caused enough pain in my life…the lives of everyone…whatever happened to the man you once were…”
“Silence!” Shadam shouted. “You worthless wench…you robbed me of my heir.” He blasted her with energy spheres.
“Idiot!” Akomaru shouted. “I want her alive!”
“Shadam!” Byakko yelled as he left the possession of Dragon Ranger and streaked towards the ground below.
“What the…Byakko!” Dragon Ranger yelled as the saber flew down and struck Shadam across the face.
The saber stuck in the ground. “Kimberly, get her to safety.”
Phoenix Ranger nodded as she rose to her feet, her body injured. Shadam growled as he ran towards the Pink Ranger.
Phoenix Ranger placed her fist against her palm as the phoenix eyes on her helmet flashed with power. “Heaven Wind Star! Whirl-wind destruction!” She extended her palm and fired a stream of twirling pink energy that slammed against Shadam and knocked him backward, sending him flying off his feet.
Above, Red Dragon swung his staff towards the creature. “Thunder Staff…Whirling Force!” Dragon Ranger shouted as the weapon energized. But the monster vanished before the staff could connect.
Below, Shadam pulled Byakko free from the ground and vanished with the saber.
“Byakko!” Kou’s mother shouted.
Gara and Zydos turned as they teleported away, blinking from sight. Akomaru gave his mother a final glare before blinking out of vision.
The five teens all demorphed and joined around Kou’s mother.
“Are you alright?” Kimberly asked.
She nodded. “Thank you…”
Everyone in the streets was staring up at Daijinnryu with shock. Kaku watched him as well as red lightning scorched the skies. Kaku shielded his eyes as the lightning struck and energized the giant dragon.
The dragon growled as its energy started flashing like an all-encompassing strobe light. The light hypnotized every civilian below. They each walked towards the rooftops like zombies.
“What…” Kaku said.
“Kaku!” Kameo yelled as he ran next to Kaku. “Daijinnryu, he has everyone under his control! If the fighting doesn’t stop…he’ll kill them all!”
Kaku, Kameo, Kou’s mother, and the rangers regrouped in the lair.
“This is crazy,” Tommy said. “If the Gorma attack again…which they will, all those people…” he shook his head.
“And what about Kou?” Rocky said. “We still have no idea where he is…or what will happen to him.”
Kaku walked over to Kou’s mother. “Kou’s salvation will come from his mother,” Kaku said. “The two must be reunited.”
The mother nodded. “But I need Byakko…and Shadam has him…” she shook her head.
“What’s the deal with you and Shadam,” Rocky asked.
“Rocky,” Tommy chided.
“It’s alright,” the mother said. “He’s…the father…of Kou and Akomaru. No one knew that I had given birth to twins. In the Gorma tradition, the weaker of the twins is killed so that all the energy is transferred to the stronger. I couldn’t bare to see that happen. I fled with Kou, believing him to be the stronger.
“I left Akomaru in the care of the Dai tribe in hopes that their healers would help him to grow strong. But…the Gorma found Akomaru and took him. I knew that someday the Gorma would try to find me again. I also feared that they might be drawn to Kou’s power as they were to Akomaru’s. I placed the tiger brand on Kou to seal the energy inside of him so he could not be found, then I fled, hoping to lure the Gorma away from my son.”
The rangers stood silently. Tommy changed the subject. “So we have to get Byakko back to save Kou,” he said.
Kou continued to sleep in his cave. Energy built inside of him.
An hour later, Kaku stood on the roof. His students came running to him. “Sensei,” Tommy said. “What are you doing?”
“You must stay here and guard the city,” Kaku said. “I will get Byakko back.”
“How?” Tommy said. “And if we fight the Gorma…Daijinnryu will kill all these people.”
“I won’t let that happen,” Kaku said. “And besides, if Kou becomes a full Gorma, Daijinnryu will be the least of your worries. Protect the city. Protect Kou’s mother. I will bring back Byakko.”
Tommy nodded. “Let’s go,” he said to his teammates as they ran off.
Akomaru and Shadam were standing on pillars while facing the emperor in the Gorma palace.
“Keep Shadam away from me!” Akomaru yelled as he tore off his mask. “Not only did he abandon me to be raised by the Shogun, it’s his fault I lost my mother!”
“How many times have I told you not to show your face to me…” the emperor said as he nodded to one of the soldiers. The grunt jumped onto the pillar and grabbed Akomaru, restraining him as the pillar dropped.
Shadam grinned at the emperor. The emperor leaned back, a look of fear in his eyes.
Shadam joined the Triumvirate and other Gorma below as Akomaru was thrown to the floor of the palace. They all laughed mockingly at the small boy.
“Silence!” Akomaru shouted. “None of you…”
They continued to laugh. Akomaru shook his head and ran out.
The laughter stopped as Kaku stepped forward from the darkness and descended the stairs towards the Gorma.
“Kaku!” Byakko shouted from the hands of Zydos.
“Byakkoshinken belongs with me,” Kaku said as he walked towards the Triumvirate.
“Stay back!” Gara shouted.
Shadam extended his hand in front of Gara before she could attack. Shadam wrinkled his brow and looked to Kaku. The villain had a plan.
Christmas bells were ringing in the night-lit city as Billy left a busy retail shopping district in downtown Angel Grove Central. He was with the guys and Kameo.
“How can we be out at a time like this?” Adam said.
“Well,” Billy said. “We can’t just mope around.”
“We should be helping find Byakko,” Rocky said.
Tommy rolled his hands up into fists. “Sensei…where are you?” he said quietly.
Back in Kimberly’s apartment, Kou’s mother was flipping through a picture book while looking at photos of Kou, Kimberly, and the others. “It looks like you’ve taken good care of him,” she said.
Kimberly nodded from the kitchen area. “I tried at least.” She brought tea and sat down at the table.
“Where is your mother?” Kou’s mom asked.
Kimberly shrugged. “She’s never around. She’s either always at work or out…”
Kou’s mom nodded. “I’m sorry.”
Adam burst into the room. “Kimberly, it’s Kaku. He’s back.”
Kaku was standing on a ledge in the subway system near the lair. He looked down at the rangers gathered below and tossed them Byakko.
“Sensei,” Tommy said. “What’s going on?”
“Take Byakko,” Kaku said. “Use it to save Kou.” He started to walk away.
“Sensei wait!” they shouted, but he was gone. Kou’s mother took Byakko from Tommy’s hands.
“Byakko,” Tommy asked. “What’s going on with Master Kaku?”
“He made a deal with the Gorma,” Byakko said.
The others gasped in surprise.
“What kind of deal?” Tommy asked.
Byakko shook his head. “I’m not sure. I was busy being strangled by Zydos at the time.”
Tommy sighed, rolling his hands into fists.
“Byakko,” Kou’s mother said as she slid her ring into his mouth. “This ring will help you guide us to my son.”
“I will do my best,” Byakko said. “Let’s go!”
Akomaru stood on a cliff near the rocky shore. He looked downward as Billy’s jeep drove by a dirt path. The boy clenched his jaw. “Don’t let them find my brother,” Akomaru told his pet.
The monster’s eye started to glow, and he jumped away.
The jeep pulled to a halt around the cliffs. The rangers and Kou’s mother were inside. “He’s here,” Byakko said.
“Could you be anymore vague,” Rocky said sarcastically as he and the others hopped out.
“Something tells me he’ll find us,” Billy said.
The sun bled through an opening in Kou’s cavern while the young ranger slept. The light shined across Kou’s face. The boy squinted.
“This way,” his mother said as she led the rangers towards the cave. “I can feel him…Kou!”
They ran up a rocky hill towards Kou’s cavern. Kameo slipped and fell. Billy helped his friend up and continued to scramble upward.
Kou was screaming in pain as he tore his shirt and clutched onto his tiger brand. The brand was glowing bright red and illuminating the entire cavern.
The teens stopped in their tracks. They were not sure where to go next. Tommy looked to the tiger saber. “Byakko,” Tommy said, “a little help.”
“In that cave!” Byakko said. Crimson light bled from the cave that Byakko spoke of.
“Kou!” the mom shouted as she ran towards the cave.
Akomaru’s pet appeared with a flash off dark light and blocked the cave. Akomaru stepped out from behind the monster and glared at his mother.
“Akomaru…” the mother said sorrowfully.
The Gorma boy narrowed his eyes. “Kou is beyond your help…he is a Gorma…like me…and there’s nothing you can do about it!”
Akomaru opened his third eye, and his eyes started glowing red. The eyes of the boy’s pet started radiating with red power as well. A crack split through the back of the monster, and Akomaru leapt inside, using the crack like a pouch to merge with the monster.
“Kameo,” Tommy said. “Protect Kou’s mom.”
Kameo led Kou’s mother aside. The older teen transformed into the giant, armored carrier zord. “Inside,” he said. “You’ll be safe.” Kou’s mother entered the zord for protection.
Tommy and the others readied their morphers. “It’s time to take care of business,” Tommy said.
“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” They connected their braces. Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger armor.
“Destroy them!” Akomaru shouted.
The monster fired a volley of electric blasts from its silver horns. The blasts exploded against the Rangers’ armor and knocked them backward.
Dragon Ranger and Lion Ranger rolled into crouched positions and sprang forward to attack the monster. They leapt through the air and angled their descent towards the creature.
“Thunder Sword!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he unsheathed his sword.
“Star Cutter!” Lion Ranger shouted while arming a shorter blade.
Akomaru extended his hand and fired a pulse of blue flame from his palm. The pulse exploded against the two Rangers’ armor with a burst of spark and knocked them from the air.
Dragon Ranger and Lion Ranger crashed to the ground as the others regrouped around them.
“We’re wasting time,” Phoenix Ranger said. “We have to save Kou.”
Kou continued to scream and pulse with energy. He sat up as white energy shimmered around him and his body matured. He morphed into the Kiba Ranger.
Dragon Ranger, Lion Ranger, and Tenma Ranger split up and aimed their Thunder Blasters at the monster. They fired lances of red, blue, and green energy at the creature. But Akomaru extended his hand, and the blasts reflected right back at the Rangers, exploding against their armor and knocking them backward.
The Rangers regrouped.
“That little bastard doesn’t quit,” Tenma Ranger said.
Kiba Ranger suddenly leapt from his cave and slammed a flying sidekick against Phoenix Ranger’s helmet.
“Kou!” the Rangers shouted as they snapped into defensive stances.
“Ha!” Kiba Ranger shouted as he thrust his hands forward. Energy daggers swarmed around the Rangers, slashing across their armor with bursts of spark. The attack was a Gorma fighting technique.
“Kou, stop this!” Tenma Ranger shouted.
Daimugen returned to normal as Kou’s mother ran towards the Rangers. “Kou!”
Kiba Ranger slammed a jump kick upside Lion Ranger’s head and turned to his right, slamming the back of his fist across Tenma Ranger’s helmet. The White Ranger snapped his leg to the left and slammed a hook kick across Kirin Ranger’s helmet.
“Kou!” his mother shouted as she ran closer to Kiba Ranger.
Kameo was running after her as fast as his pudgy legs could carry him. “Stay back!”
Kiba Ranger leapt forward and scissor kicked Dragon Ranger and Phoenix Ranger backward. The two Rangers crashed against the ground and rolled back towards Kou’s mom and Kameo.
The Rangers regrouped and snapped into fighting stances.
The White Ranger sprang upward into the air and raised his Thunder Gem. “Thunderzord arise! White Tiger!”
The White Tigerzord appeared in its warrior mode and landed on the ground. Kiba Ranger flipped forward and entered the cockpit embedded in his zord’s armor.
The Rangers unsheathed their Thunder Swords and raised the weapons while grasping 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.
Below, Akomaru closed his Gorma third eye, hopped off his creature, and blew his whistle, commanding the monster to grow giant. Akomaru’s pet expanded and raised to the level of the MegaThunderzord and White Tiger.
Daijinnryu flashed with blinding power and commanded people to jump from buildings. Civilians under his spell leapt to their deaths.
“Stop Daijinnryu!” Kaku yelled as he used his Ki to catch people and land them safely.
The dragon growled with frustration. The massive beast bent its legs and pushed off, soaring back through the skies. Daijinnryu decided a more direct assault was in order again. The demon dragon flew towards the Gorma palace.
White Tiger fired bursts of electric flame from the tiger jaws on its chest. The blasts exploded against the MegaThunderzord, sparking across armor upon impact. MegaThunderzord crashed to the ground.
Below, Akomaru blew his whistle, commanding the creature to open fire on the MegaThunderzord.
“Stop Akomaru!” his mother yelled.
Akomaru glared back at his mother, then looked back up at his monster. “Destroy them!”
“Akomaru…you have to stop! I love you…I’m so sorry!”
Akomaru’s breath caught in his throat as he dropped the whistle. His eyes opened wide. He slowly turned to face his mother. “How can you say that…you left me…”
“I had no choice…I had to leave you…” His mother pleaded. “I thought I was protecting you from your father. From the Gorma.”
Akomaru felt emotions long denied him. They confused him. Scared him. He used his anger to push them away. “You…stay away from me…stay away!” Akomaru yelled as he ran off.
Above, the monster and White Tiger watched Akomaru run off. Dragon Ranger took advantage of their distraction and leapt from the MegaThunderzord. He flipped through the air and entered the White Tiger’s cockpit.
Dragon Ranger pounced against Kiba Ranger and slammed a knifehand strike against the White Ranger’s neck, knocking him unconscious.
Akomaru ran as fast as he could. He tried to outrun his own confusion. His own fear. The boy collapsed, his body weak. He started to cry, for the first time, tears streaming down his cheeks.
Shadam slowly stepped behind his son.
“Stay back,” Akomaru said as he rose to his feet, keeping his back to his father.
“Hmph,” Shadam said as he circled around Akomaru. “Now you know why I hate you, Akomaru. When your mother left me…she left you behind. You are the reason she ran away from my life. That is why I turned you over to the Shogun to be raised. I couldn’t stand the sight of you.”
Akomaru narrowed his eyes. “Bastard,” he cursed.
“Such a foul tongue for a child,” Shadam said as he extended his palm and blasted his son with pulses of blue fire. The blasts exploded against the boy and knocked him off his feet. Shadam spat at Akomaru and left.
Akomaru slowly started to crawl away, his body damaged. His thoughts drifted to his brother. “Kou…”
Akomaru’s pet was out of control as it smashed through the mountains, pulverizing rock and spreading debris.
Below, Dragon Ranger leapt to the ground with Kou in his arms. Dragon Ranger handed the unconscious boy to his mother. “Do what you have to do,” Dragon Ranger said as he pulled out Byakko and handed the saber to Kou’s mom.
Kou’s mom nodded. She took Kou and Byakko and ran towards the cave.
Dragon Ranger leapt through the air and rejoined his team in the Megazord cockpit. “Kou’s with his mother,” he said. “We have to give them time to do…whatever it is they need to do.”
The monster fired blinding strands of energy that exploded against the MegaThunderzord’s armor.
The ground shook from the battle above. Kou’s mother struggled to keep her balance within the cave. She placed her ring in Byakko’s mouth again. She raised the saber and whispered a spell. Blue light shot from Byakko and blasted through the cave’s ceiling. Kou’s mom was knocked over by rubble.
“Byakko,” she said as she stood and raised the saber again. This time Byakko was struck by blue lightning as she screamed. Then she walked over to Kou with the saber.
She placed the saber over Kou, and his body was baptized in the blue energy. As Kou began to float, his tiger brand began to glow, and small explosions rang throughout the cavern and knocked Kou’s mother off her feet.
She placed Byakko in the ground and ran over to Kou, hugging him as she screamed his name. More rubble fell as the ground shook with a violent tremor. Her tears fell on his tiger brand, and it started to glow blue once more.
Kou opened his eyes slowly. “Mother…”
“Kou!” they hugged. “Oh my son, I love you so much.”
“Mother…” Kou said, holding his mother tight. He was not even sure if she was real or a dream. He did not care.
Byakko shouted. “Be careful…the battle outside is…”
A violent tremor shook the cave. Rubble fell from above towards mother and son. Kou’s mom pushed her son out of the way as a giant boulder collapsed on the bottom half of her body. Stone continued to fall as Kou ran to his mother’s side.
“Mother!” He ran to her.
“Get out of here Kou!”
“No,” Kou said frantically as he tried to push the boulder off his mom. “You have to get free!”
“Kou…you have to go,” she said. “You are the Kiba Ranger…you have to help your friends.”
“Please, Kou,” she said. “And please understand, Kou…I was only trying to protect you. You and your brother. I never stopped loving either of you.”
Tears streamed down Kou‘s cheeks as he tried to pull his mother free. “Mom…get up…”
“Go,” she said as she touched his face. She screamed as more rocks started to fall. She pushed Kou out of the way as a rock wall piled up and separated the mother and son.
“Mother!” Kou shouted as he tried to fight against the falling rocks, the ground threatening to shake him off his feet.
“Kou!” Byakko shouted. “Where are you Kou!”
Kou grabbed Byakko and left the cavern. He screamed with anger as tears streamed down his face.
Akomaru continued to limp. The ground beneath him collapsed from a tremor, and he crashed into the bottom of a cavern. His bones were broken. His vision started to blur.
Akomaru looked up to see his mother trapped.
“Akomaru…” his mother whispered, choked with grief at the sight of her child. She extended her hand.
Akomaru slowly crawled forward. His strength was gone. His emotions as shattered as his body. He removed his glove and reached out for his mother’s hand, struggling to move forward as the ground shook.
They grabbed hands.
“I’m sorry…Akomaru…” she whispered. “Love you…”
“Mother…” Tears streamed down the boy’s cheeks. For the first time in his life, he knew he was loved.
The cave collapsed around them.
Kou wiped the tears from his eyes and stood. He looked up at the battle between the MegaThunderzord and the monster.
You are the Kiba Ranger, his mother had told him.
Kou tightened his fists as he armed his morpher. “Chakra ignite!” he shouted, fierce determination in his voice. “Kiba Power!” He inserted his key into his brace. Energy shimmered around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.
Kiba Ranger extended Byakko into the air. “White Tiger!”
The White Tigerzord stomped to the scene, its four legs pumping with might. Kiba Ranger leapt into his zord’s cockpit and inserted Byakko in the forward control console. “White Tiger! Rise up!”
The Tigerzord pulsed with energy as it transformed into its warrior shape. The zord armed a curved golden blade.
“Let’s go you monster!” Kiba Ranger shouted.
“Kou…” Dragon Ranger said. “Welcome back.”
“Kou,” Phoenix Ranger said.
“I knew the kid had it in him,” Tenma Ranger said.
Daimugen the carrier zord stomped towards the others. “Let’s finish this fight,” he said.
“Ultra Thunder! Star Fusion!” Kiba Ranger shouted.
The Lion, Tenma, Kirin, and Phoenix formed a chariot that hovered through the skies. Red Dragon twirled his staff like a helicopter propeller to fly upward and land on the chariot.
White Tiger assumed his beast form and slid into the shell of Daimugen. The carrier zord returned to his four-legged form as the Thunder Chariot landed on top of the shell.
“UltraThunderzord!” the Rangers shouted as they joined in Dragon Ranger’s cockpit.
Red Dragon spun its staff like a propeller as the Ultrazord hovered in midair. Red Dragon then swung his staff downward, but kept the staff spinning.
“UltraThunderzord! Lightning Wave!” the White Ranger shouted.
A torrent of rushing white energy blasted from the staff as the carrier zord fired massive pulse blasts from its side-mounted cannons and jaw. The wave of energy splashed around the monster, ripping off its skin and vaporizing the creature. Not a single ash remained.
The sun was setting in the distance. Kou stood on the rocky shore and stared out at the water. The teens walked up behind him.
“Kou,” Kimberly whispered as she slowly walked up behind him.
“Phoenix Ranger…” Kou said, trying to hide his tears. “My mother, she…”
Kou broke down and cried. He turned to Kimberly and ran towards her, wrapping his arms around her in a tight hug. Kimberly ran her hand along the back of his head. “Shhh…”
“Kou,” Tommy said as he removed his jacket and wrapped it around the boy. “It will be okay…we’ll take care of you.”
Kaku watched from a cliff above. The Sensei turned to face Shadam. “Shadam,” he growled. “Do you see what this war has caused…he’s only a child.”
“If he’s truly my offspring, he’ll be strong enough to shake it off,” Shadam said. The Gorma walked towards Kaku. “You know as well as I, the only way to stop this war. And to do that…you’ll have to go through me.”
“You seem to be in a hurry to be defeated,” Kaku said.
Shadam laughed. “Our emperor is weak…I should rule the throne, but in order to do that, I must defeat you, Gorma General Kaku.”
A week passed. It was Christmas Eve. Kimberly was out Christmas shopping and looked sorrowfully at mothers and their sons. She returned to her apartment a few minutes later.
Kou was at Kimberly’s apartment window looking outside. He glanced at the ring in his hand and pictured his mother’s face.
Then the door opened. “I’m back!” Kimberly said.
“What’d you get?” Kou asked as he ran towards her, a smile on his face. “Is it cold out?”
Kimberly placed her cold hands on his face. “Hey,” he laughed and backed away while pushing her hands aside.
They sat and smiled as they lit candles on a Christmas cake. Byakko chuckled as he watched. They toasted their glasses as the snow outside started to fall.
To be continued…Chapter 26