Land of the Rising Sun: Chapter Nine

The Youngest of Youkai

 

A group of young children played on a dirt baseball field on the outskirts of Tokyo. A young boy named Zashiki watched with eyes wide open in joy. He yearned to play too, but did not know how to approach the kids.

 

One of the young players knocked the baseball out of the park - and towards Zashiki.

 

Zashiki leapt forward and practically flew through the air. He grabbed the ball and somersaulted through the air before landing.

 

“Whoa…” the kids said as they stared at the boy with amazement. They finally had the courage to run over towards him.

 

“You want to play?” one of them asked Zashiki.

 

“Sure,” he said, a large smile crossing his face.

 

***

 

The rangers were riding in Nekomaru as they passed near the baseball diamond. They noticed as young Zashiki slammed a home run and dashed across each base with a streak of motion, faster than humanly possible.

 

Jonathan opened his eyes wide at the sight. “Did anyone else see that or am I going crazy?”

 

“Yes and yes,” Zack said.

 

“You think he’s a Youkai?” Richie asked.

 

“He’s a little young,” Jason said.

 

Jason and the others got out of the van and walked closer to the baseball diamond. Jason stepped forward and called out to the boy. “Hey!”

 

The boy opened his eyes wide with fear when he saw the rangers. He ran towards his bicycle and hopped on while speeding back towards the city. The rangers ran after him.

 

***

 

The rangers followed Zashiki into the outskirts of the city. The young boy was riding past a building when bursts of spark exploded around him, causing him to dive forward off his bike and skid across the ground.

 

Dorodoro appeared and lifted the boy up before jumping to the roof of the building. The teens used their power and leap up towards the roof to get the boy back. The rangers landed on the roof and found themselves facing Juniya. The Youkai prince was surrounded by Dorodoro.

 

Juniya extended his hand, ordering the soldiers to charge forward while discharging an invisible energy blast. The blast exploded around the rangers with bursts of spark as they dove aside and rolled across the roof.

 

The rangers rolled back onto their feet and armed their morphers. “Shogun transform!” Energy swirled around them as they morphed into their armor.

 

The Rangers unsheathed their swords and slashed their way through the Dorodoro. The blue soldiers fell quickly at the edges of the Rangers’ blades. The grunts were no match for the Rangers.

 

After dispatching the soldiers, the Rangers stood between Zashiki and faced off with Juniya.

 

Ninjaranger,” Juniya said. “Do you know who that is? That’s a Youkai. He killed the soul of that boy to possess the body, just like we all do.”

 

“That’s a lie!” the boy shouted. “We live in this body together!”

 

Juniya laughed. “Think that if you want. I’ll return for him later.” He disappeared.

 

The boy started to cry. The teens powered down their armor and gathered around him.

 

“One of us should stay and watch him,” Trini said.

 

“I’ll do it,” Zack said.

 

***

 

Zack spent the better part of a day watching after the Youkai child Zashiki and his young friends. They played baseball, ran through the park, and played Frisbee.

 

The other teens pulled up in Nekomaru to check on Zack and the boy playing in the park.

 

“He seems alright,” Jonathan said as the four rangers stepped out of their van.

 

The skies suddenly darkened. Juniya’s skeletal face appeared in a translucent image above. The villain laughed as he looked down at the teens and children. Juniya’s eye sockets fired jagged bursts of crimson energy that exploded against the ground.

 

Dorodoro appeared and charged forward to attack.

 

The rangers armed their morphers. “Shogun transform!” Energy swirled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

“Zack,” Ninjared said. “Take the kid and run.”

 

Ninjablack placed his hands on the boy’s shoulder and ran towards the woods while leading him along. The Black Ranger led the boy along a path through the woods and made his way to a small clearing.

 

A bolt of lightning suddenly flashed in front of them as Juniya appeared in his skeleton monster form.

 

“Hand him over,” Juniya said as he walked towards the Ranger with his left hand held outward. His right hand was wrapped tightly around his sword.

 

“Never,” Ninjablack said as he stood protectively in front of Zashiki.

 

Juniya fired a streak of crimson energy from his palm. Ninjablack grabbed Zashiki and dove aside as the blast exploded around them with bursts of spark.

 

Ninjablack rolled back to his feet and looked back to Zashiki. “Stay back.”

 

Ninjablack leapt forward and somersaulted through the air towards Juniya while unsheathing his blade. The Black Ranger swung his sword down while landing, but Juniya parried the blow and slashed Ninjablack from the air with a single blow.

 

Ninjablack crashed to the ground but quickly rose back to his feet. He dashed towards Juniya and swung his blade through a series of arcs and strikes, but Juniya parried each strike with ease while stalking forward and pushed Ninjablack backward.

 

Juniya slapped the Black Ranger’s blade away and slashed him across the chest, blade sparking on impact.

 

Ninjablack crashed against the ground and rolled into a crouched position. He pulled out his sidearm and aimed forward. “Shogun Blaster!” he fired lances of golden energy towards Juniya.

 

But the villain dodged each blast. Juniya extended his hand and fired a streak of crimson energy that exploded against Ninjablack, sparking against his armor and knocking him backward.

 

Juniya moved forward and lifted Ninjablack by the throat. The villain slammed a punch against the Black Ranger’s gut, slamming him backward.

 

Juniya energized his sword and swung upward, his blade a streak of energy while slashing across the Ranger’s chest and sparking on impact, knocking him backward.

 

Ninjablack crashed against the ground. Zack’s armor forcibly powered down from the impact. Juniya stalked towards the fallen teen while extending his sword forward.

 

“Juniya,” Zashiki said as Juniya reverted back to his human form. “Let him live, and I’m all yours.”

 

“No!” Zack shouted.

 

Juniya nodded. “Deal…we’ll meet again…Ninjablack.”

 

Juniya grabbed Zashiki, and the two Youkai teleported away.

 

“No!” Zack yelled.

 

***

 

Deep within the Youkai prince’s lair, Juniya had Zashiki strapped down on a table as the boy transformed into his monster form. He resembled the stereotypical version of a Martian. Then Juniya cast a spell on Zashiki and turned him evil. His bulk increased as his head expanded and covered with red veins. His green eyes started to glow.

 

***

 

Zashiki assumed a giant form and stomped through the streets of Tokyo.

 

The five teens regrouped in the city and ran against the screaming crowds. They moved within a block of the giant and armed their morphers.

 

“Shogun transform, Ninja Pow-” Explosions sparked around them and knocked them backward.

 

The teens rolled back to their feet and looked up to see the ghostly image of Juniya’s skeletal face in the sky. “Don’t you recognize your friend, Ninjaranger?”

 

Zack shook his head as he looked up to Zashiki. “Oh man...no….” Zack said. “We have to save him.”

 

Jason nodded as he and the others armed their morphers. “Shogun transform, Ninja Power!”

 

The Rangers held their Power Coins. “Battlezords, power up!” They tossed their coins forward in streaks of golden light. The lights flashed and turned into the five warrior Battlezords.

 

The Rangers hovered into the air and merged with their zords. The Battlezords split up and surrounded Zashiki. They pounced forward and tried to hold the Youkai down without hurting him.

 

Zashiki swung his arms outward, smashing the slender zords backward.

 

The kids from the baseball field arrived on the streets below. They looked up at the Youkai, realizing it was their friend. They called up at him, pleading with him to stop his rampage.

 

Their voices got through to Zashiki. He remembered the fun he had with the group. He remembered the laughter. Rage suddenly regained control. Zashiki fired optic blasts that exploded against the zords and several buildings.

 

The children continued to shout for their friend.

 

Zashiki screamed and collapsed to all fours. His body pulsed with energy as he shrunk back down to size and assumed his normal, child form. He cried.

 

The kids ran towards their friend as the Rangers leapt from their zords. They assumed their civilian guises and ran towards Zashiki.

 

Zack crouched next to the boy and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Are you okay?”

 

He nodded and sniffed back tears. “I’m sorry…I just didn’t want you to get hurt.”

 

The skeletal face of Juniya appeared in the sky. “You…you made a deal…”

 

Zashiki rose to his feet and glared up at Juniya. “Here’s what I think of your deal!” Zashiki returned to his giant monster form and charged towards the head of Juniya.

 

Jagged streams of energy poured from the villain’s eye sockets and exploded against Zashiki, ripping through his body as he screamed. Zashiki collapsed as his body shimmered with energy.

 

Zashiki shrank and returned to his normal boy form. The boy’s breathing was shallow, and he looked weak.

 

“No!” Zack yelled as the rangers and children gathered around Zashiki.

 

Zack bent down and lifted Zashiki into his arms. The boy’s eyes looked at each of them. “I’m sorry…and…thank you...for being my friend.”

 

Zashiki’s body turned to dust and shimmered away in the wind as the children cried.

 

To be continued…Chapter 10