Author’s Note: The following story takes place in 2002, shortly after the start of Book Three: Five Stars of Heaven. Jason, Zack, and Trini have recently arrived in Japan to study abroad for a year. Land of the Rising Sun and Five Stars of Heaven run concurrently.
Land of the Rising Sun: Chapter One
The cloudy sky above Sapporo was illuminated by the lights and neon signs from the techno maze of tall buildings below. Japan’s fifth largest city, in the Hokkaido Prefecture, Sapporo’s uniform blocks gave the city a western feel that contrasted winding cities such as Tokyo.
And yet 16-year-old teenagers Jason Scott and Zack Taylor had trouble navigating the bustling city. They walked down a busy street while Jason held a map.
Zack sighed and shook his head. “Man, I can’t believe you got us lost.”
“We’re not lost,” Jason said. “I know exactly where we are…”
“But…” Zack said.
“I have no idea where we’re going,” Jason said.
Jason and Zack had mellowed considerably since their trip to the country. The teens felt like they were getting a fresh start, leaving their problems miles away, and being able to act more their age. Able to act like they didn’t have the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Across the street from the teens, an older man was getting attacked by a group of younger thugs armed with knives. Zack tapped Jason the shoulder to get his attention and pointed to the attack.
“Let’s go,” Jason said as they ran across the street.
“Hey!” Jason shouted as he charged towards them.
The thugs paused and saw the teens coming. They smiled at each other. “Ha. Stupid Americans,” they said in Japanese.
Jason flying jump kicked a thug upside the head. He spun forward and slammed a reverse sidekick against the attacker’s gut. One of the thugs swung a knife towards Jason. Jason grabbed the thug’s wrist and twisted. The thug dropped the knife, and Jason slammed a backfist across the guy’s face.
Jason hated thugs. A group of gang members murdered his sister more than a year ago.
“You guys sure have balls…” Zack said as he flying side kicked a thug in the face. “Mugging a guy in broad day light.”
Zack dodged a knife strike and grabbed the thug by the arm. Zack flipped the attacker over his shoulder.
The attackers quickly scrambled back to their feet, regrouped, and ran off.
Jason noticed a brown leather sack on the ground next to the attack victim. The victim was dressed in a thick brown coat and strange brown cap equipped with flight goggles. Jason picked up the sack and handed in to him. The overweight man was still lying on the ground. “Are you alright…?”
The man shook his head. He was clutching his chest. “No…” he said, his voice ripe with pain. “That bag…must be delivered to the Okinawa Temple….” The man passed out.
“Hey…hey mister…” Zack said cautiously. He leaned down towards the man to take his pulse.
The stranger opened his eyes. “I’m not dead. Just deliver the bag, please!” the man passed out again.
“Huh.” Zack said as he backed away. His brow wrinkled with disbelief.
Jason opened the bag, and his eyes opened wide. He showed the bag’s inside to Zack. The bag was filled with bundles of $100 bills.
“Oh man!” Zack said. “This is crazy. Let’s leave the bag here and split.”
Jason shook his head. “No way. I want to find out what this is all about.”
Zack recognized Jason’s stern leader voice and knew better than to argue.
Jason started to walk away. Zack sighed and followed. “Oh man. We’re going to regret this.”
The two teens walked through a grassy area outside the temple. Trees dotted the landscape. A light fog saturated the air. The park was quiet. They could not even hear the sound of the wind blowing.
“This is freaky, Jase,” Zack said.
Jason nodded. “Yeah…but we’ve seen worse.”
The two former rangers stopped in their tracks when they heard an eerie girl’s voice singing in the woods. The sound caused chills to creep up the teens’ spine. They spotted a girl in a white robe skipping through the woods in the distance.
“Hey!” Zack called. The two teens ran towards the girl.
The teens stopped at the foot of a cliff covered with grass and moss. “Where’d she go?” Zack asked. “Did she climb?”
They heard footfalls above. They looked to see the girl staring down at them. Her face was painted white. Groups of children, each dressed in robes, stepped forward besides her.
The children spun around, their bodies growing and transforming into warriors clothed as black-robed ninjas.
“What the-” Jason said as he took a step back.
“You’ve gotta be kidden me,” Zack said.
The ninjas armed longbows and aimed the weapons towards the teens below. “Move!” Jason shouted as he and Zack ran for cover.
Arrows speared into the ground behind them. A group of ninja appeared in front of the teens, blocking their path. Jason and Zack split up and ran in opposite directions to avoid getting hit by arrows.
Zack slipped through an unseen trap door and landed in a pit full of bones, dropping the bag in the process. He searched for the bag, but accidentally lifted a decayed skull. He dropped the skull immediately. “Oh, man, gross.”
Jason was running through the trees, trying to find a spot where he could gain an advantage against the ninjas, when he accidentally triggered a trap. To beds of spikes flipped up and nearly crushed Jason, but the teen dove out of the way, taking notice of the skull lodged on one of the spikes.
Jason and Zack regrouped as a band of the ninja closed in on them from behind. Jason and Zack turned the corner of the temple, but ran into a dead end sealed off by a large ornate door, nearly three times their size. They ran to the door and tried to open it, but it would not budge.
“I knew this was a bad idea,” Zack said. They tried to open the door again. “Nobody’s home…just our luck.”
The ninjas landed at the end of the passage, blocking the teens’ exit. Jason and Zack snapped into fighting stances. They heard laughing from above and looked up. It was the man they had saved earlier.
“You!” Jason shouted as he narrowed his eyes.
“You two are so gullible,” the man started laughing while spitting on the teens below.
“Gross, man,” Zack said, moving backward away from the spittle. He bumped into a stone carving that moved on impact.
The temple grounds suddenly started to shake. The temple doors creaked open as a large gust of artificial wind burst forth. Dark light emitted from the door, sending streaks of energy outward. The ninjas suddenly transformed into grunts called Dorodoro. The blue-skinned creatures had twisted white faces and carried jagged blades.
Several apparitions flew from the temple door and streaked by the teens, knocking them to their feet.
“What the hell is going on!” Zack said as he ducked.
“Nothing good!” Jason answered.
The strange man leapt from his perch and landed on the ground. He stood between the door and the teens as his body transformed. The man became a creature, a green-skinned monster with fins stretching between his arms and chest. Red and yellow markings were patterned across his head and chest. He had an almost leaf-like appearance on his skin. His name was Kappa.
The teens stepped back as another man appeared. He wore dark brown robes and a black cowboy hat. He sat with his legs crossed on a cloud and carried a samurai sword slung casually over his shoulder.
“Congratulations, Americans,” he said sarcastically. “You’ve just managed to release the Youkai.”
A pouring geyser of energy streamed from the temple and spread out over the sky. A mystical wind blew the rangers off their feet and sent them tumbling through a corridor of wind.
The teens crashed against the ground moments later. They looked up to see their surroundings. They were alone in a desert-like area near the mountains. Five swords had their blades stuck into the ground in front of them. They slowly rose to their feet.
“Okay…” Zack said. “Let’s summarize what just happened…”
“I’d rather not,” Jason said.
They heard a rumbling in the distance. The teens looked to see a giant temple rise from beneath the ground. The temple was intricately carved, a palace of the Shogun from ancient Japan. The temple doors opened, and a girl dressed in a white ninja outfit flew towards them on a cloud.
The girl flipped forward through the air and landed in a crouched position in front of the teens. She stood, revealing her face.
“Trini!” Jason and Zack shouted.
“What are you wearing?” Zack asked.
“What’s going on?” Jason asked.
Trini sighed. “You two released the Youkai. Evil spirits that have been trapped for centuries.”
“Our bad,” Zack said sarcastically.
“Exactly,” Trini said.
“Huh?” Zack asked. He did not know which was more strange: Being chased by a group of ghost ninjas or seeing their friend Trini, normally rather quiet, fly on a cloud from a mystical temple that appeared as if from nowhere.
“Now, each of you grab a sword,” she told them.
“Huh?” Zack asked again.
Trini sighed impatiently. “The Youkai were defeated by five warriors. These were their swords. We can use them to fight.”
“Whoa,” Zack said. “How do you know all this anyway?”
Trini shook her head. “That’s besides the point,” she said. “There are only five of us on this planet that can stop the Youkai now. We’re part of that five.”
“Have you noticed she’s gotten a lot meaner,” Zack said quietly to Jason.
Jason ignored Zack. The former Tyranno Ranger had learned to trust Trini long ago whenever wearing such a determined look on her face. “So where are the others?”
“We’ll get to them later,” Trini said. “Now, the Youkai are on their way. You can either not listen to me and let them kill you when they arrive, or you can do what I say.”
“Well, when you put it that way, I guess I’m in then,” Zack said.
Jason nodded. “All right.”
“You,” Trini said while pointing to the Jason. “Grab the red sword…you, grab the black one.”
Trini wrapped her hand around the white blade’s handle. Jason grabbed the red blade, while Zack grabbed the black blade.
“On the count of three,” Trini said. “1...2...3...”
They pulled the swords free. A surge of electricity exploded across the ground around them, nearly knocking them from their feet.
The large temple doors in the distance burst open. Five spirits shot out in streaks of light. The spirits materialized in the skies above Jason, Zack, and Trini. Each spirit was dressed in a ninja uniform with different colored scarves, each scarf matching a handle of a sword below.
They were the spirits of the original five warriors who imprisoned the Youkai.
“So…” the red-scarf ninja said as he narrowed his eyes at Jason and Zack. His name was Sasuke. “You two are the idiots who set the Youkai free.”
“Hey,” Zack said defensively. “It was an accident.”
Sasuke sighed and shook his head. “Now there’s nothing left for you to do but fight…and try to make up for your mistake.”
The red, white, and black ninjas tossed three devises to Jason, Trini, and Zack. The devices fit in the palms of their hands. Each was black with gold trimming and had a golden disc in the center.
“What are these?” Jason asked, although he suspected the answer.
“Doron Changers,” the black-scarf ninja Saizou said. “They will give you your power…and our fighting spirit. Shogun transform…Ninja Power…”
“Just don’t loose them,” Sasuke said as the five spirits vanished from sight.
“There you are!” a voice shouted from behind them. Kappa was charging towards them with small teleportation bursts. A group of Dorodoro were besides him.
The three teens snapped into fighting stances.
Kappa tilted its head when he noticed Trini. “I see you’ve brought a friend.”
“Trini,” Jason said as he tightened his grip on his morpher. “I hope your friends knew what they were talking about.”
Trini nodded. The three teens held their morphers in front of their chests. “Shogun transform…” they raised the morphers into the air and brought them back down, clicking the center disk open while shouting. “Ninja, Power!”
The Power Coins beneath the discs twirled with energy like a whirlpool. That energy expanded and wrapped around the teens as they morphed into their Ranger forms.
The three Rangers snapped into fighting stances. Their blades crackled with energy and transformed into slender sabers with black and gold handles and hilts.
“Ninjared!” Jason shouted.
“Ninjablack!” Zack called.
“Ninjawhite!” Trini shouted.
“Shogun Task Force…” Ninjared called. Together, they shouted. “Ninja Rangers!”
“Get them!” Kappa shouted. The Dorodoro charged forward. Each soldier carried a jagged blade.
Ninjawhite snapped her hand towards the ground. A cloud of smoke exploded and enveloped the Rangers. The smoke drifted off, and the Rangers had vanished. The soldiers’ advance skid to a halt.
Ninjawhite appeared behind the soldiers in midair. She landed while swinging her blade down diagonally, the sword slashing through a soldier and sparking on impact. She dashed forward, using her sword to slap a soldier’s blade aside and rip that soldier’s chest open. She jump kicked a Dorodoro upside the head and brought her blade down diagonally across that soldier, blade sparking from neck to hip.
A group of six Dorodoro tried to surround her. Ninjawhite somersaulted past them and rose to a crouched position. She snapped a volley of throwing stars that exploded against the soldiers, each blade cutting through the Youkai grunts with a burst of spark.
More of the grunts surrounded her. Ninjawhite leapt onto a tall boulder and looked down at the soldiers. She laced her fingers together to form a hand sign and floated slightly in the air as white energy shimmered around her.
“Ninpo Shard Attack!” she shouted. A cloud of diamonds formed in front of her and hovered still. Then the diamonds shot towards the soldiers like bullets. The wave of diamonds ripped through the grunts with violent explosions.
Meanwhile Kappa tackled against Ninjared and Ninjablack. The three went rolling down a cliff slope and crashed on the rocky ground below.
Ninjared and Ninjablack somersaulted forward when they landed and rolled into crouched fighting positions while unsheathing their swords. The two Rangers sprang forward and swung their blades towards the villain.
The Youkai sprouted a pair of scimitars from his palms and swung outward in an x-shaped pattern. His blade slapped the Rangers’ swords away. The monster spun forward, holding his blades out and slashing across the Rangers’ armor with bursts of sparks.
The Rangers stumbled backward but held their ground. The Youkai leapt into the air, becoming nothing more than a blur of motion as he streaked towards the Rangers.
The two Rangers sprang forward at equal speed in two streaks of motion. Red, black, and green streaks of speed darted across the landscape, clashing against each other while moving upward.
The three fighters landed on a cliff above. Ninjared held his sword outward and dashed towards his opponent. The Youkai ran towards the Ranger while twirling his scimitars. Their blades clashed against each other.
Ninjared reached his sword behind his back to block the monster’s first strike. The Red Ranger brought his blade back down across his chest to block the second strike. Ninjared pushed the villain’s blade away while spinning forward and slamming a reverse sidekick against the monster’s chest.
The Youkai chopped both his blades towards Ninjared’s neck. Ninjared ducked and rolled across the ground to avoid the strike.
Ninjablack jumped behind the villain and slammed both heels against his back. The Youkai stumbled forward, and Ninjablack moved in, slashing his blade upward across the creature’s chest with a spark of explosion.
The Youkai spun with the blow while slashing both sabers across the Black Ranger’s chest. The blades sparked upon impact and knocked the Ranger backward.
Ninjablack regrouped next to Ninjared, and they held their blades back in fighting stances. Ninjawhite leapt from above and landed beside them.
“Are you all right?” Ninjawhite asked.
“Never better,” Ninjablack said.
The monster swung both sword horizontally, creating a jade-tinted energy blade that exploded against the three Rangers’ armor, smashing them backward and sending them tumbling across the dirt ground.
The Rangers slowly rose to their knees, using their swords to steady themselves as the monster stalked towards them.
The temple in the distance suddenly vibrated with power, shaking the ground with a violent tremor. The outer temple broke like a shell as a powerful, giant-armored figure rose. The Megazord was shaped similar to the temple itself. Its name was Muteki Shogun, the ShogunMegazord.
The ShogunMegazord armed a curved golden blade etched with fiery orange. Muteki Shogun swung the sword downward towards the Youkai. The blade slammed against the ground, creating a shockwave that knocked the monster off his feet, sending him flying backward.
Without warning, a pink and black floating mass of tentacles latched onto Kappa and started to pull him to safety. The mass of tentacles was actually a floating head that looked down upon on the Rangers. “It’s been fun!” she said mockingly as she flew off towards the distance.
“What the hell?” Ninjablack shook his head in disbelief as he watched the Youkai vanish into the air. “And I thought Bandora’s goons were weird.”
Jason, Trini, and Zack walked along the streets of Sapporo. They were just outside the downtown area, were factories and warehouses dominated the landscape instead of skyscrapers and office space.
“It’s right up here,” Trini said as she nodded towards a warehouse ahead.
“Who are you meeting again?” Jason asked.
“Someone I met here in Japan,” Trini said. “He’ll help us.”
Trini stopped near the warehouse and pulled out a small piece of paper and wallet-sized picture. She handed the paper and picture to Jason. “Now, here’s the next person we need on our team. His name’s Jonathan. He’s 16, from Angel Grove South. He’s here for the same reason we are.”
“How exactly do we find him?” Jason asked as he looked at the picture.
“Put out a classified ad?” Zack asked sarcastically.
“He’ll be at the arcade downtown,” Trini said as she started to walk off towards the warehouse. “I’ll meet you two there.”
“How do you know all this stuff?” Zack asked.
“No time to explain,” she said as she entered the warehouse.
“Seriously, Jason,” Zack said as they turned and walked away. “What’s gotten into her?”
Jason shook his head. “I don’t know.”
Trini entered the empty warehouse. She walked to the center of the floor and scanned the area. Her contact was nowhere in sight. But she knew he was near.
“What took you so long?” a voice said from above. Trini looked up to see a man standing on the rafters. He was dressed in dark brown robes and wearing a black cowboy hat. He had a samurai sword in its black holster swung over his shoulder.
Trini smiled at him. “It’s nice to see you too, Sandaya.”
The two walked outside and looked off into the distance. Strange light was starting to creep over the city.
“The Youkai have arrived,” Sandaya said. “They’ll soon descend and find human hosts to take shape.”
Trini nodded. “I wish we could stop them before that happened.”
Sandaya shook his head. “They can only fight while in a host. Otherwise, they’re just energy.”
“But when they take a host,” Trini paused. “They kill the host’s soul.”
Sandaya nodded. “I know. They prey on the weak willed.” He sighed. “Soon the team will be complete. Then we can act.”
Sandaya had approached Trini the same day she and the others arrived in Japan. She had nearly fainted when she saw him. Sandaya used to be friends with her father, her birth father, when she lived in Japan as a young girl.
Trini’s father died when she was six. Sandaya had taken her to the United States for adoption by a couple he knew. She had not seen him since. Running into him again was surreal at first, even before he told her what he had to say. Even before he told her the truth about her birth father.
Trini’s father had been nearly obsessed with ancient ninja legends of evil apparitions that roamed the land. Her father had studied every story and legend of the Youkai in great detail. When Trini was six, her father ventured off on a journey to find what he believed was an ancient temple of the Youkai. He died on that journey.
Now the Youkai were gathered before Trini’s very eyes.
Sandaya turned and led Trini back towards the warehouse. “I have something for you. A method of travel you might find useful.”
They went back inside. On the once empty floor now sat a yellow van. The van was outlined in black and almost looked feline.
Trini smiled and lifted her eyebrows with disbelief. “It looks…ridiculous.”
The van’s engine made a sound similar to an angry cat’s meow. Trini took a step back and raised an eyebrow at the van.
“Now you’ve gone and offended him,” Sandaya said as he placed a hand on the hood. “This is Nekomaru. You’ll find him especially useful over these couple of days while you’re bringing the team together. He can travel from here to the swords in an instant.”
“Well…” she looked to the van, still not sure what to think. “Thank you, then.”
The van meowed.
Jonathan was in a crowded arcade downtown. He played a game of Gundam Wing against his new friend Cory from Stone Canyon. Cory was studying abroad in Japan too. Jonathan wore a yellow flannel short-sleeve shirt over a white long-sleeve shirt. His hair was dark and parted along the middle. His brown eyes were glued to the video console in front of him as he commanded his Gundam Zero to slam a final beam-cannon blow against Cory’s Gundam Shenlong.
“Dammit!” Cory said as he slammed his control panel with frustration and leaned back, bitter with defeat.
“Ha,” Jonathan said as he leaned back, a look of pride on his face.
“You got lucky,” Cory said.
Jonathan placed his hands behind his head and leaned back. “Luck had nothing to do with it, my friend.”
Nearby, from a room towards the rear of the arcade, a strange woman watched the two teens finish their game. She wore red-wired glasses. Her hair was tied back in a bun. A man moved up behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder. It was Kappa, the Youkai who lured Jason and Zack to the Youkai tomb.
“Having fun?” he asked.
The woman, Rokurokubi, smiled and turned to him, closing the door behind her as they moved back into the empty room. She wrapped her arms around him. The feeling of touch was still new to her. She loved it. “This place is ripe with weak-willed boys. They’ll make excellent hosts.”
Jonathan and Cory had moved to a different game console when the Youkai woman approached them from behind. Rokurokubi placed a hand on each of their shoulders to get their attention. “Would you two care to come with me for a moment?”
Jonathan and Cory looked to each other with suspicion. Each raised an eyebrow. Rokurokubi turned and started walking towards the back room.
“Ummm…” Jonathan said. “Okay.”
She led the two teens into what looked like a small bar area. Waitresses dressed in skimpy outfits with cat tails and bow ties brought out trays of tea as Rokurokubi had Jonathan and Cory sit at a circular table.
Rokurokubi left the room as the waitresses started placing the tea glasses onto the table.
Jonathan leaned forward to his friend. “What the hell is going on?” he whispered.
Cory shrugged and whispered back. “I don’t know.
Jonathan shook his head and stood from the table. He moved over to the door Rokurokubi had left through. He cracked the door open slightly to eavesdrop. Rokurokubi was talking to Kappa. “…they don’t even know they’re about to die…” she said.
Jonathan shut the door and rushed over to Cory. He grabbed Cory by the arm. “We’re leaving,” he said as he dragged Cory up.
The door creaked open, and Rokurokubi peaked in her head. Her neck stretched like a snake as she looked at the two teens with an evil grin on her face.
The teens screamed as the waitresses around them transformed into Dorodoro. One of the soldiers grabbed Jonathan by the hair. He gasped and stepped back while slamming a sidekick against that soldier’s face. The soldier went crashing over the bar.
Jonathan grabbed Cory, and the two made a run for it towards the rear entrance of the arcade.
Jason and Zack moved towards the rear entrance of the arcade. The door suddenly swung open and nearly knocked the two rangers down. Jonathan and Cory ran out, bumping against the two other teens.
“Whoa, slow down kiddies,” Zack said.
A flash of light appeared behind them as Dorodoro and the two Youkai monsters blurred into focus. Rokurokubi and Kappa transformed into their monster forms. Rokurokubi was all black with white outlines. Her head was the same mass of tentacles the Rangers had seen at the site of the swords.
Cory and Jonathan gasped and cursed as they took a step backward.
Jason turned and looked to Jonathan. “You, stay.” He started to push Cory back inside. “You, run.”
Rokurokubi fired crimson optic bursts at the teens when the door shut.
“Shogun Transform!” Jason and Zack shouted. Energy twirled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms, just in time for the blasts to explode against their armor with a shower of sparks, protecting Jonathan from the attack.
“Who the hell?” Jonathan said.
Ninjared and Ninjablack unsheathed their swords and charged forward to attack. Ninjared parried a soldier’s sword and ran his own blade through the grunt’s neck. Ninjablack slapped a soldier’s sword away and spin kicked that grunt to the ground.
Jonathan tried to sneak away, but a group of Dorodoro blocked his path. The soldiers swung their blades down towards Jonathan. Ninjared was at the teen’s side in a second. He used a single swipe from his sword to parry the blows, and he roundhouse kicked the two soldier away, his heel smashing across both their heads.
Ninjared looked back to Jonathan. “Be more careful.”
Jonathan shrugged and held his hands up in a helpless gesture. “Sor-ry.”
The yellow van Nekomaru appeared from around the corner and skid to a halt at the battle site. The van door slid open, and Trini jumped out. “Jason!” she shouted as she ran towards him while kicking a few soldiers out of her path.
Ninjared slashed his blade upward across a soldier’s chest, sending the Dorodoro flipping backward as sparks ripped across its chest. Ninjared looked to Ninjablack. “Zack, take Jonathan with Trini.”
“Gotcha, Jase,” Ninjablack said. He grabbed Jonathan by the arm and led him towards the van. “Let’s go, ace.”
Jonathan followed, not thinking he had much of a choice. “Am I being abducted?”
“Think what you will,” Ninjablack said as he moved into the van, dragging Jonathan with him.
The yellow van sped off. Rokurokubi followed, running as fat as her legs could carry her. Kappa started to run after them, but Ninjared blocked the monster’s path.
“Not so fast, lettuce lips,” Ninjared said as he held his blade in a fighting stance. “You owe me a rematch.”
“Oh. I’m scared,” the Youkai said as he charge forward to attack. The Youkai slashed his two curved blades across the Ranger’s chest. Explosions sparked upon impact - but Ninjared’s armor went limp like cloth and fell empty to the ground. It was like Ninjared had slipped out of his own armor.
Ninjared suddenly reappeared in midair and arced downward, swinging his blade across the monster’s chest while landing. Ninjared dashed forward while slashing his sword across the Youkai and turned to bring his blade down across the monster’s chest. The blade sparked while forcing the monster backward.
The Youkai swung his blades, but Ninjared leapt backward to avoid the strike. The Red Ranger snapped a volley of throwing stars at the creature, each star exploding against the monster on impact.
Nekomaru was speeding down the street as the tendril-headed Youkai ran after them. Trini was at the wheel and kept glancing back at the rear view mirror. The monster was actually gaining on them.
Zack leaned over her shoulder from the back of the van. “Step on it.”
Jonathan was in the back of the van, staring at the monster getting closer with every running stride. He looked back to the two rangers. “Who’s going to tell me what the hell is going on? Who is that…lady thing?”
“Could ya go faster,” Zack said to Trini.
“Are you people even listening to me?” Jonathan asked.
“Both of you, shut up,” Trini said. She shook her head. “Backseat drivers...”
Nekomaru opened a mystic vortex and barreled through. The van emerged on the other side to the barren terrain where the remaining two ninja swords extended from the ground.
“Whoa,” Jonathan said.
Zack and Trini opened the van doors and hopped out. Jonathan moved out next. The teen had lost his patience. “So where are we, who are you, and what the hell do you want?”
Trini and Zack looked at each other with blank stares. This was going to take a while. Zack turned his head back towards Jonathan. “You may want to sit down, pal…”
Ninjared slashed his blade horizontally across the monster while spinning forward. The monster clutched its injured chest and stumbled backward. “I don’t have time for this.” The monster blurred out of sight.
Ninjared ran forward to stop the creature, but it had already disappeared. “Damn…”
A voice came from behind Ninjared. “You’re getting better already.” It was Sandaya, standing with his sword slung over his shoulder.
“You again…” Ninjared said.
Sandaya nodded. “Come with me…”
Sandaya turned and started to walk away. Blinding white light enveloped him and the Ranger. The light dissipated, and Jason found himself back in civilian garb within a dark chamber. A red suit of Japanese samurai armor was on display in front of him. A scroll sat on its lap.
“Where am I?” Jason asked, his voice echoing in the darkness.
Sandaya stepped up behind Jason. “That scroll will allow you to awaken your Kyodai Juushou.”
Jason wrinkled his brow, not recognizing the word. “My what?”
“Your Shogunzord,” Sandaya said. “The five Kyodai Juushou make up the great Muteki Shogun, the ShogunMegazord. He was the one that assisted you in your first battle.”
“The thing that grew from the castle?” Jason asked to make sure.
Sandaya nodded. “He was the castle.”
Jonathan slowly took his last step towards the yellow-handled sword. He reached around the handle. Jonathan flashed Trini a look of concern. “So I’m just supposed to pull the thing?”
Jonathan took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and pulled the sword from the ground. Lightning crashed to the ground around him, nearly throwing the teen backward. The temple rose once more in the distance, and the five ninja spirits came forth with streaks of energy. The spirits materialized on the roof of Nekomaru.
The spirit in the yellow scarf, Seikai, looked to Jonathan for a moment. They stood in silence. Seikai turned his head towards Saizou. “Him?” he asked with disbelief.
Jonathan looked dumbfounded. Saizou shrugged.
Seikai sighed and extended a Doron Changer towards the teen. “Jonathan…this is your Doron Changer. Use it to unlock your Ninja spirit.”
Seikai tossed the morpher through the air. Jonathan used both hands to grab the device. The spirits vanished as quickly as they had appeared.
Explosions suddenly sparked around the three teens and tossed them backward. They rolled back onto their feet and looked up.
Kappa was standing on the roof of the rangers’ van. The Youkai had the pink, tendril head of Rokurokubi under his left arm. “Did you think we wouldn’t find you here?”
Nekomaru vanished from sight. The Youkai crashed against the ground once the van disappeared beneath his feet. The monster grumbled with annoyance as he rose to his feet. An army of Dorodoro appeared around him.
Zack and Trini stepped in front of Jonathan and readied their morphers. “Shogun transform…Ninja Power!” Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.
The Rangers unsheathed their swords and charged forward towards the wave of grunts. Ninjablack slammed a jumpkick upside a soldier’s head and slashed his blade down through the creature’s chest. Ninjawhite swung an outer crescent kick, bashing her leg across a soldier’s head.
Jonathan opened his eyes wide in amazement. A black streak of motion suddenly slammed against him. The teen crashed against the ground and skid backward across the dirt. The headless body of Rokurokubi stood above him. He started scurrying backward, but the monster’s pink head came at him from above, lifting him to his feet while wrapping tendrils around his body.
The tendrils started to squeeze, nearly crushing the teen’s ribs. Jonathan struggled to break free, but the hardest he fought, the harder Rokurokubi squeezed. Jonathan’s arm was pinned at his side, but his morpher was in his hand. He opened the center disc on the morpher and shouted. “Shogun transform!”
He felt his own strength rise as a wave of power washed over him. Yellow energy flashed across his body, igniting his every cell with power. He became the Yellow Ranger.
Ninjayellow grabbed the tentacles and started spinning. The tendrils slacked as the Yellow Ranger kept spinning around, whirling the monster’s head through the air. The tendrils went limp.
Ninjayellow released his grasp and tossed the head through the air. The Youkai’s head went skipping across the ground.
Ninjablack and Ninjawhite regrouped around Ninjayellow. Ninjablack slapped Ninjayellow on the back. “Alright, Johnny!”
“Don’t ever call me that again,” Ninjayellow said.
Kappa rose back to his feet and glared at the Rangers. “So now there’s three of you? Hmph.”
The monster extended his hand towards the air. Supernatural lightning lashed along the clouds and scorched the skies. Bolts of blue lightning streaked downward and blasted against the Youkai, wrapping around his body and injecting him with energy. Every cell in his body expanded, and the villain grew giant.
“Oh man!” Ninjablack shouted as he stepped back. Growing monsters were nothing new to him. But he did not have a zord. Neither did his teammates.
The temple in the distance vibrated with power. A burst of energy pulsed from the center of the temple. The pulse was Ninjared streaking forward while riding on a cloud. “Don’t worry, guys!”
Ninjared leapt off the small cloud and flipped through the air. He landed on a nearby cliff. He extended his scroll in his right hand. “Shogunzord awaken!” he shouted. The Ranger spun around as the scroll vanished. “Red Ape!”
A giant red-armored shogun warrior rose to its feet behind the Red Ranger. Ninjared hovered backward and merged into the zord’s chest with a flash of light. Piloting the Red Ape was different from the Red Ranger’s former Tyranno Dinozord. Ninjared did not pilot the red Shogunzord as much as he became the zord.
The Shogunzord snapped into a fighting stance.
The other Rangers looked up with awe at the red-armored warrior. The sound of footsteps stomped from behind them. Rokurokubi was charging towards them, her tentacles whipping back and forth with anger.
The Youkai slammed against the three Rangers, knocking them backward.
Ninjayellow rolled back into a crouched position and snapped a volley of throwing stars at the Youkai. Each star exploded against the monster, cutting through her body with bursts of sparks.
Ninjablack and Ninjawhite held their blades forward and charged at the Youkai.
Above, Kappa slashed his scimitars across Red Ape with a pair of diagonal blows that sparked across the zord’s armor. Red Shogunzord held his ground and grabbed hold of the Youkai by the shoulders. The zord lifted the Youkai and hurled him backward.
Kappa went tumbling across the rugged terrain. Red Ape waited until Kappa rose back to his feet before arming a weapon.
“Red Slider!” Red Shogunzord shouted. The zord armed his x-shaped blade weapon and hurled it forward like a throwing disk.
The blade ignited with fiery energy, spinning forward like a helicopter propeller and cutting through the Youkai. The monster’s body was torn in half. The creature’s energy overloaded and exploded, destroying every cell of the monster with a massive burst of flame that disintegrated into smoke before drifting to the sky.
Below, Ninjawhite energized her blade with white energy. “Hidden-style Ku Cut!” she shouted as she swung her blade in an arrowhead-type pattern through the Youkai. The creature fell backward and exploded.
The rangers’ van drove through the winding city streets of Tokyo. Trini was at the wheel while Jason took the passenger seat. Jonathan and Zack leaned up from the back.
“So now what?” Jonathan asked. “Are there more of those creeps?”
Jason nodded. “Plenty.”
“Well how can the four of us beat them all?” he asked.
“The four of us can’t,” Jason said. “That’s why we’re looking for one more.”
Being a city cab driver was not pleasant. Oboroguruma was at the wheel, practically breaking into tears over his frustration. First he dealt with a drunkard who eventually puked on him. Then he dealt with a misfit kid. Then he dealt with a man, who saw that the meter had not been reset following said misfit kid, and tried to reset the meter. The man reached over the driver’s seat to try and reset the meter. He persisted, despite the cab driver trying to slap his hand away.
That was it. The driver screeched his cab to a halt. The door opened, and the man stumbled out. Oboroguruma transformed into his Youkai monster form. The cab itself wrapped around the Youkai, transforming into a type of mobile armor.
The former passenger screamed and started to run as fast as he could. The Youkai Oboroguruma sped afterward.
The four rangers stood outside of Nekomaru. Jonathan crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the side of the van. “So where are we going to find this other guy? This is one of the largest cities in the world, you know.”
“It shouldn’t be that hard,” Jason said. “He’s over here on the exchange program too.”
“Funny the way things work out,” Zack said.
A group of panicked civilians suddenly ran by, each screaming and fleeing as fast as they could. Seconds later, the Youkai Oboroguruma tore across the streets after them, zipping past the rangers.
Jonathan sighed. “Something tells me it will be a while before I’m ever bored again.”
“Let’s get after him,” Jason said as he and the others readied their morphers. “Shogun transform…Ninja Power!” They morphed into their armor.
Ninjawhite held out her arm to stop the other Rangers from charging into battle. “We’ll need these.”
Ninjawhite snapped her wrist to the ground, and four explosions sparked against the concrete as plumes of smoke rose. The smoke dissipated to reveal four multi-colored motorcycles. Each cycle was modeled after a shark.
The Rangers hopped onto the cycles and sped after the Youkai. The monster went barreling through the streets. Cars swerved to avoid the monster while crashing against one another. The Rangers swerved in and out of traffic as they gave hot pursuit.
The Youkai turned down an alley. The monster blasted from the alley and throttled down less-frequented roads near an industrial area of the city. The Rangers closed in.
“Fire!” Ninjared shouted. Lances of energy erupted from each cycle and exploded against the Youkai. The Youkai tipped to his side and skid across the ground while reverting back to his human form.
The Rangers dismounted and stalked towards the Youkai while extending their blades.
“Not so fast now, are ya?” Ninjablack said.
Suddenly, someone leapt from nearby and slammed a double sidekick against Ninjablack, knocking the Ranger back a step. The attacker, a teenager dressed in khaki slacks and a blue shirt, stood between the Youkai and Rangers. His name was Richie. He was the teen the Rangers were looking for.
“I thought you were supposed to protect people, not hurt them,” Richie said.
“Wait,” Ninjared started to say. “You don’t under-”
Richie snapped throwing stars at the Rangers to distract them. The teen grabbed the Youkai and ran with him to safety.
“Great…” Ninjayellow said sarcastically. Richie and the Youkai had managed to vanish from sight.
The Youkai wiped tears from his face. He was sitting with Richie at an outdoor café. Oboroguruma told Richie about the recent streak of customer troubles
“That’s horrible,” Richie said. “They shouldn’t treat you like that.”
The driver nodded, taking a deep sniff. “Try telling that to them.”
Richie wrinkled his brow as he heard shuffling not to far behind him. He picked up a piece of food with his fork and shot it backwards. It hit Jonathan in the head as Zack took a step back. The two teens were hiding behind a nearby building corner.
“Son of a…” Jonathan said.
Richie grabbed the driver by the arm and started to run. “Come on…”
Jason thumbed open the center disk on his morpher. The device let him communicate with the rest of the team. “Are you sure it was them?”
“I’d bet my entire life savings on it,” Zack said.
“All five cents?” Jonathan asked.
Jason rolled his eyes. “Okay, Meet up with Trini and follow them. I’ll be right behind you.”
Oboroguruma led Richie through a dark corridor of an abandoned building. Richie hesitated as they moved further down the hall. “You don‘t have to…” he started to say.
“I insist,” the driver said. “It’s my way of thanking you.”
Oboroguruma led Richie to the end of the corridor. He swung the door open, and the two entered a dimly-lit bar area. Various Youkai scattered about the bar while in their monster forms, drinking and carrying on. Other Youkai remained in their human guises. Waitresses in skimpy clothing served the assembled crowd.
Richie stopped dead in his tracks.
“Don’t be scared,” Oboroguruma said as he took Richie by the shoulder and led him forward. “Come with me.”
Oboroguruma led Richie through the musty bar. They shouldered past various creatures, men, and women, and moved to a door in the back corner. Oboroguruma opened the door and led the teen into a small cave area.
“Wait here,” Oboroguruma said as he stepped back inside, leaving Richie alone in the cave.
Richie shook his head. “This is nuts…” he started walking towards the other side of the cave in search of an exit. Jets of flame suddenly streaked from the ground. Richie jumped back to avoid the flames, but fell through a hidden trap door.
Trini led Jonathan and Zack through the night-lit streets. Trini was in her white-clothed ninja uniform, a mask covering the lower part of her face. Zack and Jonathan dressed in similar garb, only their ninja outfits were black. Zack had a black scarf and Jonathan had a yellow scarf.
They ducked beneath a window outside the Youkai bar.
“This is the place…” Jonathan said.
Trini nodded. “Let’s go…quietly…”
An army of Dorodoro suddenly dropped to the ground behind them. The grunts darted forward and swung their jagged blades towards the rangers.
Zack reached up and grabbed a soldier’s weapon arm. The ranger stepped forward, slamming his elbow against the soldier’s chest. He spun forward with a hook kick that bashed across the soldier’s head, knocking the Dorodoro to the ground.
A second soldier tossed a thin rope that wrapped around Zack’s wrists, tying his arms together. Two soldiers rushed forward and slammed their knees against Zack’s gut.
Trini wrapped her hands around her sword to unsheathe the weapon. As she started to pull the blade, a Dorodoro snapped a rope around the ranger’s wrist. The rope tied her wrist to her sword’s holster. Two Dorodoro slammed kicks against Trini’s side.
Jonathan snapped a jump kick upside a soldier’s head. But a second soldier swept the legs out from underneath the ranger.
The Dorodoro executed their plan perfectly. They had the element of surprise and the rangers numbered and cornered. The grunts tied the three rangers up.
Richie collapsed onto the concrete floor of a jail cell. He slowly rose to his feet and looked up to see a police officer leaning against the wall with his arms crossed, a smug grin on his face.
Richie narrowed his eyes. “Who are you? You’re not a cop.”
The officer, a Youkai in human form, walked closer to the jail cell. “I know why you’re here,” he said with a smirk. “You’ve come for the scrolls.”
Richie wrinkled his brow in confusion. “Scrolls? What scrolls?”
The cop snapped his fingers. A flash of dark light teleported them out of the jail area. They rematerialized to a mountainside outside of the city. Richie was in a boxed-shaped cage.
The Youkai pointed down to a pit of fire. A small open chest was on a ledge of rock near the flames. The chest had four scrolls. “Those scrolls. Your friends have been captured, you will soon be dead…it’s the price you pay for defying us.”
Richie’s patience was gone. He grabbed onto the bars and tried to shake free. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Now let me out of here!”
The Youkai tipped over the cage. The cage went sliding across the mountainside towards the flames below.
Trini, Jonathan, and Zack were tied to a post inside the Youkai bar. They struggled to break free from the ropes. But the more they struggled, the tighter the ropes rubbed against their wrists.
Someone in a dark cloak shifted through the crowd, shouldering past various monsters and villains. The cloaked figure walked close to the trapped rangers. He slightly pulled back his hood. It was Jason.
Oboroguruma was nearby. The Youkai was laughing with some of his fellow villains as he watched the rangers struggle. The Youkai wrinkled his brow as he noticed the cloaked figure drifting towards the rangers.
“You there…” Oboroguruma said as he stepped forward. “Who are you…?”
Jason finished untying his friends. He turned and whipped off his cloak, throwing it at the Youkai as the three rangers regrouped at Jason’s side.
“Sorry to intrude,” Jason said as they snapped into fighting stances. “We won’t be staying long.”
The rangers readied their morphers. “Shogun transform! Ninja Power!” Energy swirled around the four teens as they morphed into their Ranger forms.
Oboroguruma started to transform into his monster state, but Ninjared charged forward and slammed a sidekick against the monster. The Youkai went flying backward, crashing through a window and stumbling outside.
Some of the Youkai monsters ran, choosing retreat over a prolonged battle. Dorodoro charged forward and swung their blades towards the Rangers. The Rangers unsheathed their swords and parried blow after blow as they charged towards the window.
The Rangers slammed the last of the soldiers out of their way as they leapt through the window. They rolled across the street outside and rose to their feet. They looked up and saw Oboroguruma ride off in the distance.
Sandaya appeared leaning down on a building ledge from above. “He’s headed to the mountains outside of the city. The Youkai have the other four scrolls.”
“Like Jason’s?” Ninjayellow asked with excitement in his voice.
Ninjared rolled his hands into fists. “Let’s go…”
Richie’s cage lodged against a Cliffside, stopping its plummet towards the pit of flames close by. He struggled to break loose from the cage. Beads of sweat dripped down his head. The heat so close to the flames was intense.
A flash of light appeared in the air above Richie. He looked up to see the five ancient ninja spirits hovering above him.
“What…?” Richie said.
“You’ve gotten yourself into a lot of trouble, haven’t you?” asked Jiraiya, the ninja in the blue scarf.
Richie wrinkled his brow. What the hell is going on? he thought.
Jiraiya looked to the distance. Miles away, the last remaining sword flew from the ground and shot through the air at blinding speed. The sword flew from its resting place and into Richie’s hand within seconds.
“What am I supposed to do with this?” Richie asked as he looked up to the spirits.
“You’ll know when you activate this,” Jiraiya said as he tossed Richie a morpher. “This is your Doron Changer. Use it to Shogun transform into a Ninja Ranger.”
Richie caught the device. “But what-”
“There’s no time,” Jiraiya said. “Do it. Shogun transform.”
Richie nodded and flipped the center disc of his morpher open to expose his Power Coin. “Shogun transform!” Energy swirled around him as he broke free from his cage. His blue armor activated, and he shot towards the upper cliff with a blur of motion.
Oboroguruma arrived at the leveled top of the mountainside as the four Rangers landed and squared off with the Youkai.
Before the Rangers could attack, a blur of blue motion dashed past Oboroguruma while slashing the monster across the chest. Ninjablue flipped through the air and landed near the other four Rangers. The other four Rangers ran to their newest teammate’s side. The Ninja Rangers were complete.
“Welcome to the team, Richie,” Ninjared said.
Oboroguruma recovered as the five Rangers snapped into fighting stances.
Together, they shouted: “Shogun Task Force, Ninja Rangers!”
The Youkai throttled towards the Rangers with a burst of speed. Ninjared and Ninjawhite rolled to the side and snapped a volley of throwing stars that exploded against the monster on impact.
While Oboroguruma was distracted by the throwing blades, Ninjablack and Ninjayellow moved in with their weapons drawn. They spun past the monster while slashing horizontally, their blades sparking against the monster upon impact.
Ninjablue somersaulted forward through the air. The Blue Ranger landed while chopping his blade down vertically across the monster’s armor. Explosions tore across Oboroguruma and tipped the monster backward.
Oboroguruma recovered and raised a hand towards the sky. Supernatural lightning lashed along the clouds and scorched the skies. Bolts of blue lightning streaked downward and blasted against the Youkai, wrapping around his body and injecting him with energy. Every cell in his body expanded, and the villain grew giant.
“I’ll hold him off,” Ninjared said as his scroll appeared in his right hand. “You guys get the scrolls.”
Ninjared ran to a cliff edge and looked out as Oboroguruma sped towards one of Japan’s bustling cities. The Red Ranger held out his scroll. “Shogunzord awaken…” He spun around and pulled the scroll to his chest. The scroll vanished with a pulse of red light. “Red Ape!”
A giant red-armored shogun warrior rose to its feet behind the Red Ranger. Ninjared hovered backward and merged into the zord’s chest with a flash of light. Ranger and zord became one. Red Ape snapped into a fighting stance.
Below, Ninjablue and the other Rangers gathered at the edge of the cliff. They looked down at the pit below as flames inched closer to the scrolls. The Blue Ranger narrowed his brow beneath his helmet. “I’ll go…”
Before Ninjawhite could object, Ninjablue started hopping down the mountainside. His leaps were nearly flawless, almost like a wolf. But the newest Blue Ranger was still not used to his powers. He stumbled his next landing and went rolling down towards the pit of flame, tumbling out of control.
“Zack,” Ninjawhite said, telling the Black Ranger to mount a rescue.
“I got him,” Ninjablack said. He armed a golden knuckle over his right fist. A small black crossbow appeared over the knuckle. “Shinobi Crossbow!”
Ninjablack leapt from the cliff and arced down towards the pit of flame. He swung his arm back and fired the crossbow. A roped arrow shot into the mountainside as the Black Ranger swung down.
Ninjablack swung by the edge of the pit and grabbed Ninjablue under his arm, a second after the Blue Ranger grabbed the box of scrolls and almost tumbled into the pit of flame. Ninjablack used his grappler to reel them back up. “Amateur…”
The Rangers regrouped on the cliff. Ninjawhite grabbed her scroll from the box and handed the other scrolls to the rest of the Rangers. The four Rangers lined at the edge of the cliff and extended their scrolls.
“Shogunzords awaken…” they shouted together.
Ninjablue spun around and pulled the scroll to his chest. The scroll vanished with a pulse of blue light. “Blue Wolf!”
A giant blue-armored shogun warrior rose to its feet behind the Blue Ranger. Ninjablue hovered backward and merged into the zord’s chest with a flash of light. Ranger and zord became one. Blue Wolf snapped into a fighting stance.
Ninjablack spun and pulled the scroll to his chest. The scroll vanished with a pulse of black and purple light. “Black Frog!”
A giant black-armored shogun warrior rose to its feet behind the Black Ranger. Ninjablack hovered backward and merged into the zord’s chest with a flash of light. Ranger and zord became one. Black Frog snapped into a fighting stance.
Ninjawhite spun around, her scroll vanishing with a pulse of white light. “White Crane!”
A giant white-armored shogun warrior rose to its feet behind the White Ranger. Ninjawhite hovered backward and merged into the zord’s chest with a flash of light. Ranger and zord became one. White Crane snapped into a fighting stance.
Ninjayellow spun around, his scroll vanishing with a pulse of yellow light. “Yellow Bear!”
A giant yellow-armored shogun warrior rose to its feet behind the Yellow Ranger. Ninjayellow hovered backward and merged into the zord’s chest with a flash of light. Ranger and zord became one. Yellow Bear snapped into a fighting stance.
“Let’s bring ‘em together!” Red Ape shouted. “Shogunzord Fusion!”
The five zords charged forward. Each zord flashed with energy and started to reconfigure, shifting shape as armor components slid and merged with other zords. The merger continued with a blinding flash of golden light. Their zords had formed the giant warrior, Muteki Shogun.
“ShogunMegazord!” the Rangers shouted as one.
Oboroguruma sped towards them in one final, desperate effort to kill his opponents.
ShogunMegazord armed its curved golden blade, etched with fiery orange symbols. “ShogunMegazord Saber…Ignite!”
The saber burst into flames. ShogunMegazord swung the sword downward in a streak of fiery energy that slashed through the Youkai. Oboroguruma exploded, his armor shattering and disintegrating as his own energy overloaded and exploded. The monster’s body scattered into fiery ashes before vanishing in a final puff of smoke.
The five Rangers gathered at the cliff below as the sun started to set in the distance. They watched silently as the sun’s rays cast a red/orange hue across the mountains and across the foreign city in the distance.
Ninjared looked to the other Rangers. “We’re a team now, guys…”
To be continued…Chapter 02