Land of the Rising Sun: Chapter Four
A small town sat alone in the wilderness outside of Japan’s cities. Four young children ran alongside a fence while smacking the fence bars with sticks. They laughed as they picked up their speed, trying to out-race each other.
The kids skid to a halt when they saw three clowns rolling a large stone boulder almost as tall as they were. The children did not recognize the clowns as Dorodoro in disguise.
The soldiers kicked the rock, and it shot towards the kids. They screamed and turned to run, but it was too late. The boulder slammed against them, but instead of crushing the kids, it absorbed them.
The kids screamed from their stone prison as Dorodoro rolled the boulder forward.
The teens pulled Nekomaru to a stop on a wooded hill. A road wrapped around the hill. The van parked on the side of the road as the teens got out and stretched. They had a clear view of the small town below.
“What a drive,” Zack said as he yawned.
Richie pointed down to the town in the valley below. “Is that where we’re headed?” he asked his friends.
Trini nodded. “Yes.”
“Then let’s get going,” Jonathan said with excitement. “We haven’t had any R and R since we got to this country.”
Their trip to the town was technically for class research. But a homework assignment was a vacation compared to fighting the Youkai. The teens were looking forward to a normal outing.
The five teens entered the city streets. No one was around. They were not expecting as large a crowd as in a city. But the streets should not have been completely void of anyone. A small breeze blew across the buildings, flapping several window shades.
A young boy ran towards them from a nearby street. He pleaded frantically with them in Japanese.
“Jonathan?” Jason asked. Jonathan was the only ranger who spoke the language fluently.
Jonathan asked the boy a question in Japanese. The boy answered while waving his hands as he spoke. Jonathan looked to Jason and Trini. “He says some of his friends have disappeared…and the whole town is acting weird. He said it’s like a ghost town. So much for R and R.”
A Youkai scientist worked at a computer terminal in a basement. His lab was mobile, moving from town to city depending on his needs. He wore a dirty white jacket. His ears were pointed, he wore an eye patch over his left eye, and his dry hair was disheveled.
Several Dorodoro rolled the boulder into the dimly-lit lab. The scientist, Professor Yugami, grinned at the sight of the stone. A gleam of evil shimmered in his eye. “Excellent…”
Yugami held his ear against the boulder.
A long-nosed Youkai monster entered the room. The monster had orange skin, a bushy white mustache, and wore a round hat over his head. “This had better work, Yugami.”
“It will,” Yugami said. “The Ninja Rangers will fall right into our trap…then the suffering will begin.”
The boy led Trini and the rangers through the empty town streets. Jonathan and the boy were discussing recent events at the town.
“This is weird,” Zack said.
A man and woman came into view, walking across a road perpendicular to the rangers. The boy’s eyes opened wide when he saw them. He darted towards the couple. “Papa! Kaja!”
The boy ran to his parents and tugged on their sleeves. But they kept walking forward, their eyes glazed over in a trance. Their son kept pleading, but they did not seem to notice.
Doors along the entire street suddenly swung open. The rangers stopped in their tracks as groups of townspeople walked outside. The peoples’ eyes were glazed over, and they carried knives and clubs.
The townspeople suddenly charged forward towards the rangers with their weapons held high. The rangers snapped into fighting stances.
“We can’t hurt them,” Trini said.
“We have to help the kid,” Jonathan said
“Richie,” Trini said, signaling him to follow her as she ran to help the young boy.
Jonathan grumbled beneath his breath. “Richie…?”
Jason grabbed a man’s wrist and twisted the knife away while lifting his right arm to block a bat swing. “Split up!” Jason said as he spun past a man while parrying another knife strike.
Richie and Trini dashed forward as fast as they could through a group of townspeople. Richie ducked beneath a bat swing and spun forward. Trini swept a man’s leg out to break away from a group of eight men that tried to gang up on her.
The young boy started running, having lost sight of his parents in the mob. Amidst the mob, a group of Dorodoro rolled the massive boulder down the streets. The grunts aimed the boulder towards the boy and pushed faster.
Richie and Trini leapt forward, stepping over a pair of mobsters and pushing off to slam flying sidekicks against the Dorodoro. The grunts toppled backward but managed to give the boulder a final push.
The boulder shot through the air and slammed against the boy, absorbing him into the stone. The teens could hear his screams from inside the boulder as it rolled away towards town boundaries.
Richie and Trini ran past the last of the mob and sprinted after the boulder. Jason saw them run off through the corner of his eye. “Let’s go,” he said to the others as he flipped a mobster to the ground.
Jason, Zack, and Jonathan started moving on the offensive to fight past the townspeople, but limited their attacks to flips and leg sweeps. The teens shoved through the last of the mob and broke into a sprint, chasing after their two teammates and the imprisoned boy.
They followed the boulder to a quarry nearby the town. The boulder ricocheted to the top of a nearby cliff and rolled to a halt. The Youkai scientist Yugami stepped forward and placed his hand over the boulder. The long-nosed Youkai monster, Tengu, stood beside the scientist.
Tengu had dark orange skin and a brown leather vest for armor. Patches of white hair streaked down his arms and legs. His eyes were jade, and his teeth were fangs.
“Ninja Rangers!” Yugami shouted, a mad grin on the scientist‘s face. “I have a present for you.”
Yugami poured a vile of green liquid over the boulder. The liquid seeped through cracks in the rock. The boulder suddenly flashed with energy, and five pulses of dark green light shot to the ground below. The light dissipated with a puff of smoke.
When the smoke cleared, five Youkai monsters appeared. The Rangers had defeated each of the monsters before:
Kappa, the green-skinned monster with fins stretching between his arms and chest. Red and yellow markings seemed patterned across his head and chest. He had an almost leaf-like appearance on his skin.
Azukiarai, the police Youkai whose body was green and blue with leather segments running along his side and back. He had a long, reptilian tail extending from his tailbone. The creature’s head was mushroom shaped, but jagged. He had no eyes or features on his face except for a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth.
Oboroguruma, the monster who’s bulky, dark yellow armor was vehicular in design.
Mokumokuren, the Youkai whose dark twisted body resembled muscle tissue covered with eyes. He wore a dark robe. He had tried to seduce Trini with a vast barrage of illusions and forced dreams.
Nurikabe, a Youkai whose body was made of brick segments.
The five rangers snapped into fighting stances. Richie wrinkled his brow with confusion. “We’ve beaten them before.”
Jason narrowed his eyes and readied his morpher. “We’ll just have to do it again.”
“Shogun transform!” the five shouted together, their morphers in hand. “Ninja Power!” Energy whirled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.
The five monsters charged forward alongside a group of Dorodoro. The Rangers unsheathed their swords and ran towards their opponents.
Kappa activated a double-edged blade that fit over his right forearm and fist. The attachment was an upgrade from the Youkai scientist. The monster chopped the blade down towards Ninjared’s head. Ninjared parried the blow and slashed his sword across the monster’s body.
The green-skinned Youkai stood his ground, spinning with the blow and bringing his double-edged blade back around for another blow. Ninjared lifted his sword to block the strike, but the monster’s powerful armblade knocked past the sword and slashed across the Red Ranger’s armor.
Ninjared fell back hard against the ground. Kappa was significantly stronger than when the monster originally battled the Red Ranger.
Ninjared flipped back to his feet as the Youkai swung its armblade again. Ninjared stayed on the defensive, parrying blows, slapping the blade away while he looked for an opening in the monster’s defense.
Ninjared sidestepped and parried a blow while spinning his own blade towards the monster’s neck. Kappa grabbed the blade with his free hand and slammed his broad blade across the Ranger’s chest. The blade sparked on impact and sent the Ranger flying off his feet.
Ninjared went stumbling down a hill of dirt.
Nearby, A group of Dorodoro armed with staffs surrounded Ninjawhite. She swung her blade upward, chopping through a staff, as she spun forward and slammed a reverse sidekick against the grunt.
A second soldier swung its staff towards the White Ranger’s head. Ninjawhite ducked underneath the staff while running her blade across the soldier’s chest, her sword sparking upon impact.
Another grunt pounced forward, swinging its blade towards Ninjawhite. The White Ranger parried the blow and brought her blade back slashing across the grunt’s chest.
Mokumokuren extended the palm of his hand. The eye embedded in his palm fired a volley of optic blasts that exploded against Ninjawhite’s chest.
The White Ranger stumbled backward across the ground. She rose back to her feet as an illusion surrounded her. The Youkai monster projected an illusion of hundreds of eyes that surrounded Ninjawhite and caused a wave of vertigo. Ninjawhite collapsed to her knees, her head in pain. The eye illusions flashed, causing a series of explosions to rip across the Ranger’s armor and toss her backward.
Nearby, Ninjablue dashed through a group of Dorodoro, his blade a whirl of motion. The Ranger was growing more accustomed to his powers with every fight. His sword slashed through the grunts, his blade sparking through each blow.
The brick Youkai Nurikabe snuck up behind Ninjablue and tackled against his back. The Blue Ranger was knocked backward. Ninjablue stayed on his feet and swung his sword around, slashing across the Youkai.
The Youkai barely felt the blow. Nurikabe slammed his brick head against the Ranger’s chest. The blow sparked upon impact, knocking the Ranger backward.
Close by, Dorodoro surrounded Ninjablack. The Black Ranger slashed horizontally through a soldier and continued his spin while slamming a hook kick across a second grunt’s head.
Oboroguruma throttled forward, bashing aside its own troops to attack the Black Ranger. Ninjablack didn’t have much room to maneuver because of the Dorodoro. Oboroguruma plowed against Ninjablack, explosions tearing across his armor as the monster sent him crashing backward.
Several meters from Ninjablack, Azukiarai slammed his tail against Yellow Ranger’s chest. Ninjayellow rolled back into a crouched position and pulled out his blaster, firing pulses of golden energy that exploded against the monster.
The Youkai hurled his own blade forward like a helicopter propeller. The blade slashed across Ninjayellow’s armor, sending him flying backward.
The five Ninja Rangers slowly stumbled to their feet as they regrouped. The Youkai monsters gathered together as the long-nosed monster Tengu leapt down to join them. “We have you over powered,” Tengu gloated.
“We’re not through yet,” Ninjared said.
“Oh, but you are,” Tengu said with a laugh as he extended his hand towards the sky. Dark clouds formed above, and lightning crashed against all six Youkai monsters. The lightning energized and expanded their every cell, causing them to grow giant.
“Oh, man,” Ninjablack said as they each took a step backward. Not even the team’s veteran Rangers had dealt with six giant monsters.
The Rangers pulled out their scrolls. “Shogunzords, awaken!” The five armored Shogun warriors arose from the distance with an awesome display of power. The Rangers levitated backward and merged with their individual zords.
“Split up and attack!” Red Ape shouted.
Red Ape armed his x-shaped slider blade and tossed it forward towards Kappa. The Youkai knocked the blade away and swung his double-edged arm blade across the zord’s chest. The blade sparked upon impact and knocked the zord backward.
White Crane armed two double-bladed prong weapons and swung them down towards the eye-covered Youkai. Mokumokuren sidestepped away and slammed a volley of optic blasts that exploded against the zord.
Oboroguruma sped past Black Frog, crashing against the zord and forcing him backward.
Yellow Bear swung his fist towards Azukiarai. The blow slammed against Azukiarai, but the Youkai whipped around and slammed a tail across the yellow-armored zord.
Blue Wolf was forced back by a flurry of punches from the brick Youkai. Each punch slammed against the zord with a burst of spark.
Tengu stepped forward, an evil grin on his face. He lifted his hand to get the Rangers’ attention. “I would take caution before you continued this conflict.”
The bodies of the five Youkai monsters fluctuated and became semi translucent. The Rangers could see the bodies of the five captured children, one in each of the monsters.
Tengu laughed. “These Youkai replicas are being anchored to the souls of these humans.”
“No!” Red Ape shouted.
“Yes,” Tengu said. The Youkai extended his hand and fired a crimson energy blast. The other monsters fired energy pulses that exploded against the zords with a massive explosion.
The zords fell backward and crashed against the ground. The Rangers fell from the zords and slammed against the ground below. Their armor flashed and forcibly demorphed.
Jason and the others slowly rose to their feet.
Sandaya suddenly appeared behind them, a sword slung over his shoulder. “Don’t give up yet…use your coins to summon your Battlezords.”
Trini trusted Sandaya without hesitation. She unhooked her coin from her morpher. The other rangers followed her lead and removed their coins.
“Battlezords!” Trini shouted. “Power up!” The rangers tossed their coins forward in streaks of golden light. The streaks of light flashed with bursts of energy that summoned five slender zords. Each resembled a slimmer version of a Shogunzord. The flexible zords were armed with light armor, making them more maneuverable and agile.
The teens readied their morphers. “Shogun Transform!” they shouted as they morphed back into their armor and ran towards their fallen zords. The Rangers merged back with their Shogunzords.
The Shogunzords rose back to their feet. The Battlezords stood alongside their respective Shogunzords.
“Attack!” Red Ape shouted, ordering the Battlezords into combat.
Battle Crane leapt through the air and slammed a kick against the eye-covered Youkai. The monster stumbled backward and fired a volley of optic blasts, but the Battlezord flipped away from the blasts.
The monsters were taken aback by the sudden display of strength and agility from the new zords. Battle Wolf managed to lift the brick Youkai and toss the giant monster through the air. Battle Frog and Battle Bear tackled against opposite sides of the cop Youkai, nearly crushing the monster.
Battle Ape slammed a flying sidekick against Tengu. The long-nosed Youkai went tumbling backward. Red Ape noticed the other monsters’ strength wane when the long-nosed Youkai was hit. Ninjared had learned from his first battles with Bandora’s monsters to trust his instincts in these situations.
“Guys, we have to take out the long-nosed one,” he said.
The five Shogunzords regrouped near Tengu as the Battlezords held the other monsters at bay.
“Shogunzord Fusion!” the Rangers shouted. Their zords crackled with energy and started to reconfigure. The zords merged, armor fusing together and forming a giant shogun warrior.
“ShogunMegazord Saber!” the Rangers shouted, summoning the Megazord’s golden blade. “Ignite!”
The sword ignited with fiery energy and slashed downward, ripping through Tengu and tearing the Youkai apart. The monster’s energy overloaded and exploded, its body turning to fiery ash that faded into nothingness.
The five Youkai replicas vanished, and the children appeared unconscious on the ground.
The townspeople returned to normal, and the children were reunited with their families. The rangers were gathering on the outskirts of town near Nekomaru. Richie was alone near the passenger side of the van when Trini walked over to him.
“Hey,” Trini said, smiling at him. “Are you ready to head off?”
Richie smiled and nodded. “This place wasn’t exactly friendly.”
Trini nodded. “But at least you handled yourself well. I’ve been meaning to ask you, where did you learn to fight like that?”
Richie looked away, and Trini could tell it was a touchy subject.
“Just something I picked up from back home,” Richie said, leaving it at that.
He did not tell her the truth. The truth was Richie started learning martial arts as a hobby, following in his father’s footsteps. His father had been a police officer in Angel Grove. When Richie was a boy, he saw his father murdered before his very eyes. From that day on, martial arts became a tool for vengeance. And Richie had recently tracked the unknown killer to Japan.
To be continued…Chapter 05