Land of the Rising Sun: Chapter Six

Enter the Hana Ninja

 

Juniya walked through a stone corridor lit only by the torch in his hand. Cages lined the walls of rock. Menacing, blood-thirsty Youkai were kept behind the bars. Each monster was madly insane, capable of massive carnage.

 

The Youkai scientist Yugami led Juniya through the stone passage. “These are the most powerful Youkai we’ve gathered so far.”

 

Juniya nodded. “Good.”

 

The two Youkai stopped in front of the deepest cage. Yugami slid his key into the lock and turned. “These are the ones you’re looking for,” the scientist said as he opened the door.

 

An evil grin crossed the prince’s face as he leaned into the cell and held the torch forward. “Are you in here?”

 

The two imprisoned Youkai monstrosities huddled in the corner and snarled. They hated the light.

 

“Excellent…you two don’t like being here do you?” Juniya asked as they growled. “Perhaps I can put you into the fight of your lives.”

 

***

 

Nekomaru drove through the wooded countryside. Jonathan’s 24-hour stomach bug had passed. They were taking the back roads towards the city, which stretched above the horizon ahead.

 

The rangers did not notice the Hana Ninja switch a road sign to make the team lose their way. The van pulled to the side of the dirt road. The van’s door slid open, and the rangers piled out.

 

“Not again,” Zack said as he leaned against the van. He was sick of getting lost.

 

“My bad, okay,” Jonathan said. “I was just following the sign.”

 

The five Hana Ninja smiled with amusement as they watched the rangers’ confusion. The Hana’s thoughts were on the game to come and how much they would enjoy it. Three of the Hana extended their hands and blew a glittering powder from their palms through the air.

 

The powder surrounded Nekomaru and caused the van to drive off.

 

“What was that for?” Jason asked as he and the others looked around the woods for any sign of Youkai. “Where’d that dust come from?”

 

Trini’s hair stood on end. “Something tells me we’re not alone.”

 

A second wave of dust surrounded the teens and clouded their vision. They coughed the dust from their lungs and tried to wave the dust free. The cloud dissipated as Jason opened his eyes.

 

He and Zack were deeper in the woods and alone.

 

“Ah man,” Zack said as he shook his head.

 

Jason narrowed his eyes. Someone was playing him and the others. He didn’t like it.

 

***

 

The other three rangers were deeper in the woods. They moved among the trees and tried to find the nearest path as well as their teammates. “Jason…!” Trini called. “Zack…!”

 

A volley of spears suddenly shot from the trees and arced towards the rangers. They dove aside and rolled across the ground to avoid the spears. Jonathan accidentally triggered a small mine that exploded with concussive force, knocking him backward. The teen crashed against the ground and went stumbled down a hill.

 

Trini and Richie ran after him. Jason’s voice came through Trini’s morpher with a burst of static. “Trini, are you there?”

 

“Yes, but we almost lost Jonathan,” Trini said as she and Richie moved closer to the fallen ranger.

 

Jonathan rose to his feet, but a pair of long scarves lashed out from the woods and wrapped around his ankles, tripping him. Jonathan crashed against the ground as the scarves started to pull him backward.

 

Trini darted forward to follow.

 

Richie narrowed his brow. Something was wrong. They were being played. “No, wait!” he called to her, but it was too late.

 

Trini stepped onto a hidden net that wrapped around her and lifted her into the air, suspending her from a branch as her morpher fell to the ground below.

 

Richie immediately sprang forward through the air to help Trini, but a scarf lashed out, grabbed his ankle, and slammed him back down to the ground.

 

The scarf released its grasp on Richie. The teen slowly climbed back to his feet as he heard rustling sounds come from the trees around him. Richie snapped into a fighting stance.

 

A blur of motion shot forward from the trees towards Richie. The teen dove aside and readied his morpher as the attacker sped past him. “Shogun transform!” Energy whirled around him as he morphed into his blue-armored Ranger form.

 

Ninjablue leapt through the air towards his attacker. The monster was a bulky, orange-skinned barbarian with a massive double-edged blade. Ninjablue angled his descent towards the Youkai and swung his blade downward.

 

The barbarian parried the blow and chopped his blade across Blue Ranger’s armor. The massive sword sparked upon impact and swatted Ninjablue from the air like an insect.

 

The Blue Ranger rolled into a low fighting stance and held his blade close to his body in a tight fighting stance. The opponents circled around each other. The Youkai held his blade forward horizontally, and drool dripped from his fanged mouth.

 

Ninjablue ran forward and swung his blade towards the villain’s head. The Youkai blocked the blow, so Blue Ranger twisted his wrist to bring his sword to the other side of the villain’s head. The barbarian parried the blow.

 

The Youkai stepped forward and chopped his blade against the Ranger’s collar bone. Explosions sparked on impact as Ninjablue tumbled across the ground.

 

The Blue Ranger armed his sidearm in dagger mode and dashed forward with his two weapons ready to strike. Ninjablue hopped forward and swung his blade downward towards the monster. The Youkai blocked the blow as Ninjablue twisted around, spinning while swiping his shorter blade towards the villain’s body.

 

The Youkai swung his blade downward, slashing the blade across the Blue Ranger’s hand, knocking the shorter saber away.

 

From behind Ninjablue, a second Youkai monster leapt from the treetops and arced downward towards the Blue Ranger. The creature was identical to first, only his skin was dark blue. The blue-skinned barbarian slashed his large double-edged sword across the Ranger’s back, the blade sparking on impact.

 

The two Youkai moved in at the Blue Ranger from both sides and ran their blades across the Ranger’s armor. The blades sparked on impact, nearly snapping the Ranger’s body in half.

 

The Blue Ranger stumbled across the ground and rolled into a crouched position while retrieving his sidearm and aiming the weapon forward.

 

“Shogun Blaster!” he shouted, triggering bursts of fiery golden energy that exploded harmlessly across the two Youkai with a flurry of sparks.

 

The attack did not slow the two monsters at all as they charged forward. Ninjablue tried to use his blade to parry their strikes, but he could not. The creatures slashed their sabers across the Ranger’s chest, sending him crashing against the ground.

 

The Blue Ranger rolled backward onto his feet and placed his hands together in front of his chest. “Ninpo, Torrent Attack!” Streams of rushing water shot forward and slammed against the monsters, smashing them backward.

 

Ninjablue dashed forward to attack again while the monsters rose to their feet. The orange-skinned barbarian spun forward and slammed the edge of his blade against the Ranger’s chest. Ninjablue tumbled backward. His body went limp.

 

***

 

Jason and Zack arrived to find the scene empty. “Oh man, we’re too late,” Zack said.

 

“It’s alright, Zack,” Jason said. “We’ve been in worse situations before.”

 

The teens heard shuffling noises from within the woods. They snapped into fighting stances, expecting an attack from any direction. A volley of throwing stars shot from the woods and struck the rangers.

 

Their clothes fell to the ground, their bodies having vanished.

 

The Hana Ninja leapt forward while in their gray ninja garb and looked down at the clothes. “Their Ninpo…” Sakura hissed.

 

Jason and Zack then burst from the ground in their ninja garb with their swords ready.

 

“Let’s go,” Jason shouted as he and Zack charged towards the ladies with their blades held forward.

 

The Hana returned the charge as sprinkles of energy shimmered around them and they transformed into their feline armor. Each suit of armor was a different color: orange, dark-pink, purplish-blue, olive-green, and dark violet.

 

Hana Orange leapt downward towards Jason while chopping her blade towards the ranger’s head. Jason ducked under the blow and rose his saber just in time to block two strikes from Hana Green and Hana Violet. Jason snapped out his right leg with a hook kick that knocked Hana Violet aside and a roundkick that knocked Hana Green aside.

 

Hana Orange had landed behind the teen. She spun towards him while bashing the end of her saber’s handle against Jason’s temple.

 

Zack swung his saber through a fierce series of strikes that Hana Blue dodged and ducked from. She leaned forward and slammed a scorpion kick against the ranger’s head before spinning forward and slamming a hook kick across his face.

 

Zack stumbled backward but stayed on his feet. Then the two barbarian Youkai appeared. The monsters pounced forward and surrounded the ranger. The orange-skinned warrior snarled. “Another little toy,” the monster growled.

 

“Shut up,” Zack shouted as he leapt through the air to attack them.

 

The five Hana Rangers surrounded Jason. Hana Orange extended her hand and blew a sparkling powder that surrounded the ranger. The teen vanished from sight as the dust swirled around him.

 

The Hana dashed off to the distance in streaks of motion, leaving Zack alone with the two Youkai monsters.

 

One of the Youkai slammed a kick against Zack’s gut, and the other monster bashed a fist across his skull. Zack fell to the ground, his ninja garb going limp as he vanished from beneath his uniform.

 

Ninjablack suddenly dropped from the trees and slammed a double sidekick against the orange-skinned barbarian, knocking the Youkai backward. The monster collapsed to the ground.

 

The blue-skinned Youkai swung his massive blade towards the Black Ranger. Black Ranger tried to block the blow, but the powerful swing pushed past the Ranger’s slender saber and slashed across the Ranger’s chest, sparking on impact.

 

Ninjablack kept his balance and formed a hand sign to focus his power. “Ninpo Ground Quake Attack!” Ninjablack shouted. Chunks of rock and debris shot forward from the earth and streaked towards the two Youkai.

 

The monsters batted the debris back towards Ninjablack. The debris exploded against the Ranger’s armor and knocked him backward.

 

***

 

Jason was not taken far and quickly ran back towards the Black Ranger. He moved in close enough to see the Black Ranger slam against the ground. Zack’s armor flashed and powered down as one of the monster’s placed a foot on the fallen ranger’s chest.

 

“Zack!” Jason shouted, but the Hana Rangers surrounded him before he could help.

 

Jason armed his morpher. “Shogun transform!” Red energy swirled around him as he morphed into his Ranger form and unsheathed his sword.

 

The Red Ranger blocked a strike from Hana Orange and twisted her sword arm down as the other Hana surrounded him. “Zack!”

 

“Run,” Zack said as Ninjared struggled to hold the Hana off.

 

Ninjared slapped two of the evil Rangers’ blades away, but Hana Green and Hana Orange slashed their sabers across the Red Ranger’s back before he could move forward. Ninjared narrowed his eyes beneath his helmet. He could not just leave Zack.

 

“Find the others! Go!” Zack shouted again.

 

The others. Ninjared slammed a hook kick across Hana Green’s head, but Hana Blue slammed a round kick that crashed against the Red Ranger’s ribs. Two more Hana spun past him, slashing their blades across the Red Ranger’s armor with bursts of spark. His arm went limp as the blow snapped bone.

 

Ninjared knew he needed to regroup, no matter how much his instincts were screaming at him to save the Black Ranger. Ninjared clenched his jaw, turned, and ran.

 

***

 

Ninjared ran across an old wooden bridge that extended over a rocky creek far below. Every muscle in his body ached with pain, and his broken arm was throbbing.

 

Hana Green and Hana Blue landed on the bridge in front of him, and the other three Hana cut off his escape from behind.

 

The Hana extended their hands and emitted a cloud of sparkling dust that exploded across the Red Ranger, tearing and ripping across his armor with burst of sparks.

 

The blasts knocked Ninjared over the railing. Bursts of spark continued to explode across his armor as his limp body went plummeting towards the rocks below.

 

To be continued…Chapter 07