Land of the Rising Sun: Chapter Sixteen

A Cat’s Trap

 

A Youkai wreaked havoc upon a plaza in Tokyo while alongside an army of Dorodoro. The creatures attacked without mercy, cutting down anyone in their path. The monster itself was a slender, bulky creature that seemed to be made of stitched, blue organic fabric. Its head was flat and cylinder shaped.

 

The five rangers ran to the plaza and assumed defensive stances.

 

Youkai!” Jason shouted.

 

The creature named Nopperabou turned and faced the teens. “Ah, the Rangers…here I thought things were getting boring.”

 

Jason ignored the remarks and grabbed his morpher. “Let’s do it,” he said.

 

“Shogun transform, Ninja Power!” they shouted as they activated their morphers. Energy whirled around them as they transformed into their armor.

 

The Rangers charged forward and clashed with the Youkai soldiers.

 

Ninjawhite launched a combo of diagonal strikes with her blade that cut across a pair of soldiers to both her sides. She skipped forward and landed a vertical blow that cut down through a third soldier’s head.

 

Ninjablue stood his ground as a pair of Dorodoro charged towards him. He launched a spinning heel kick that slammed across a soldier’s head.

 

Ninjayellow grabbed two soldiers by their necks and slammed their heads together. He tossed those Dorodoro aside and hook punched a third soldier across the head.

 

Ninjablack slammed his foot down against a fallen soldier’s chest. He hopped off that Dorodoro and spun forward with a horizontal strike that ripped through a second soldier.

 

Ninjared parried a duo attack from two soldiers with a single motion, then brought his blade back around in a diagonal arc that ripped across those two Dorodoro. He looked to his right and slammed a sidekick against another soldier’s face.

 

The Rangers turned their attention towards the creature and combined their swords. “Shinobi Spear!” they shouted while firing a stream of golden energy that pierced through the creature.

 

The monster fell back as its energy overloaded and exploded.

 

***

 

Battling Youkai constantly made it easy for the rangers to forget their real purpose for being in Japan. Part of their study abroad experience was taking part in various community service activities.

 

Trini spent her time with a young English-speaking girl whenever she could. She was middle-school aged and had a natural skill in martial arts. Her name was Yuuriko.

 

Trini and Yuuriko were sparring in a wooded field near an old temple. They each wielded staffs, twirling them through various attack and defense patterns as they exchanged blows in a dance of parries and strikes.

 

They ended their match and bowed to one another.

 

“You’re getting better,” Trini said with a smile.

 

The girl’s face turned slightly red with embarrassment as she smiled. “Thanks. I’ve been practicing.”

 

“It shows,” Trini said.

 

The two girls didn’t notice a Youkai creature watching them from the woods. The monster was fox-liked with orange-brown fur and nine tails. Its name was Kyuubi No Kistune. The monster narrowed its eyes as it watched Trini and Yuuriko part. The creature followed the girl with its eyes while watching her run away. A feral grin spread across the monster’s face.

 

***

 

Trini returned to Nekomaru to find the other four rangers huddled inside with concerned looks on their faces. She opened the door and looked in.

 

“What’s wrong?” Trini asked.

 

“The Youkai again,” Zack said.

 

“As always,” Jonathan added with his arms crossed.

 

***

 

Yuuriko was walking home through a field of tall grass just outside the city. She was using her staff as she would a walking cane and replaying her recent sparring match through her mind.

 

She suddenly heard a strange shuffling noise come from the grass. It sounded like a cross between a cat’s purr and a snake’s hiss. She saw the outlines of several figures weaving in and out of the grass.

 

Yuuriko took cover just as the fox-like Youkai peaked its head over the grass, waving its nine tails. She recognized such things from the news and knew they were trouble. She used what little stealth skills she had and tried to sneak away.

 

***

 

“What are they doing this time?” Trini asked.

 

“Kidnapping again,” Jason said. “They’re targeting the kids.”

 

Trini narrowed her brow. Nothing made her angrier than when her enemies targeted children. Jason told her where the kidnappings were taking place. He described the field of grass just outside the city.

 

Yuuriko,” Trini said.

 

“Huh?” Jonathan asked.

 

“That’s the route she takes home,” Trini said with growing concern. “She could be in trouble…”

 

As if on cue, Trini’s young friend Yuuriko ran towards the van, her staff still in hand.

 

“Trini!” she shouted as she ran over to her mentor and grabbed her by the arm. “You have to come see this…”

 

“What did you see?” Trini asked as she placed her hands on Yuuriko’s shoulders.

 

“One of those monsters…” Yuuriko said as she started to walk off, pulling Trini’s arm to follow. “You have to see it for yourself…come on…”

 

Trini and Yuuriko left for the field of tall grass.

 

***

 

Trini and Yuuriko arrived at the field of grass but saw no sign of the Youkai. Yuuriko shook her head in disappointment. “They were here, Trini,” Yuuriko said. “You have to believe me…”

 

“I do,” Trini said as she nodded. “In fact, I’m not entirely sure they’re gone.”

 

The two heard a faint chanting noise come from the distance that Yuuriko immediately recognized. The girl narrowed her brow at the sound of the noise and ran forward to investigate it.

 

“This way!” Yuuriko shouted.

 

They ran to the edge of a hill and looked down to a dirt path to see a convoy of robed figures wearing masks resembling dog/cat/fox hybrids. They were chanting and moving forward in a monk-like fashion. They could have been either a religious group or acting group. Could have been; but Trini knew they were neither.

 

“Let’s follow,” Yuuriko said quietly as she leapt down the hillside.

 

Trini tried to call for her to wait, but the girl was already halfway down the hill.

 

Yuuriko and Trini followed the line of masked figures down a staircase that extended into an underground chamber near the subway system. By the time Trini and Yuuriko reached the end of the staircase, the soldiers had disappeared.

 

Yuuriko tightened her grip on her staff as she and Trini looked around. The girl shook her head. “This doesn’t feel right…”

 

Trini shook her head. “Maybe you should-”

 

Masked Dorodoro suddenly sprang out as if from no where and swarmed around Trini and Yuuriko.

 

One of the soldiers swung its blade towards Trini’s head. She grabbed the soldier’s wrist while flipping the grunt to the ground. Another Dorodoro moved in and Trini grabbed hold of that soldier’s wrist as well, hurling the Dorodoro over her shoulder and slamming him against the ground. Trini bent down and slammed a knifehand blow against the fallen soldier.

 

Trini looked to her right and saw that Yuuriko was fending off a quartet of soldiers with her staff. She was doing surprisingly well, but more soldiers were moving in. Trini knew she had no choice but to morph.

 

“Shogun transform, Ninja Power!” she shouted while holding her morpher. Energy shimmered around her as she morphed into her Ranger form.

 

Ninjawhite began parrying and striking down soldiers left and right. She knocked a sword away and struck that soldier diagonally. She parried a blow and arced around with a horizontal slash. She turned with an up-swooping diagonal strike that slashed across a soldier.

 

Once Ninjawhite was confident she had most of the soldiers’ attention, she flipped back out to ground level. Most of the soldiers followed her out and rushed towards her, but she met their attack line head on with a flurry of sword strikes and kicks.

 

Ninjawhite flipped backwards through the air and landed on an above ledge while looking down at the soldiers. She pulled out her sidearm.

 

“Shogun Blaster!” she shouted while firing lances of golden energy that exploded against the soldiers below.

 

The Ranger was taking aim at another group of soldiers when she heard Yuuriko’s screams. “Trini! Help!”

 

Ninjawhite looked down to see a group of Dorodoro carry off her friend, despite the young one’s struggles to break free.

 

Yuuriko!” Ninjawhite shouted as she flipped back through the air and landed on the ground.

 

The Ranger started to charge towards her friend, but a group of Dorodoro blocked her path. Ninjawhite spun past the first soldier while slashing it with a horizontal blow from her sword. Ninjawhite parried another soldier’s blow and dashed forward with an upward diagonal strike that sparked through the creature.

 

The Ranger continued her advance, her sword a blur of motion while slashing and sparking against the Dorodoro in her way. Try as she may, the soldiers kept coming, and more distance separated her from Yuuriko.

 

The other rangers suddenly dropped down to the ground on the incline and started slamming against the Dorodoro. The soldiers were thrown off guard as the teens pressed on their attack.

 

Jason outer blocked a soldier’s blow and slammed a palm heel strike against that soldier’s chest, following with a reverse sidekick that slammed against its body.

 

Jason looked to Trini. “Go get Yuuriko. We’ll keep these creeps off your back.”

 

Trini powered down her armor and ran into the city to find Yuuriko. She ran over a catwalk and looked down to see the girl lying on the pavement.

 

Yuuriko!” she shouted as she ran down to her young friend.

 

Trini leaned over Yuuriko, and a tail immediately struck out from underneath the girl and wrapped around Trini’s throat.

 

Trini struggled to pry the tail from her throat, but the more she fought the tighter its grasp became.

 

Yuuriko opened her eyes and started to glow with energy. Her body transformed into the fox Youkai. Trini realized it had never been the real Yuuriko at all. The Youkai had assumed the girl’s form to lead Trini into a trap. She had fallen for it.

 

The Youkai rose to its feet and flashed a feral grin. “You Rangers are a predictable litter.”

 

“Where’s Yuuriko?” Trini asked. “If you hurt a single hair on her head, I’ll-”

 

“Spare me,” the Youkai said as it pulled out one of the masks she had seen earlier.

 

The monster reached down to place the mask on Trini’s face. The ranger tried to struggle, but the tail held her still. The creature managed to fit the mask onto Trini’s face. She lost consciousness and went limp the second the mask touched her face.

 

***

 

A group of Dorodoro threw Yuuriko into a dimly-lit storage area caged off by a chain-linked fence. The other kidnapped children were there as well. Some were frightened. Others were crying. Yuuriko was simply angry.

 

***

 

The fox Youkai kneeled in front of Daimamou’s throne.

 

“It is done, my dreaded lord,” the monster purred. “The White Ranger is our prisoner.”

 

Daimamou grinned, revealing a mouth full of fangs. He fantasized about what it would be like to drive his claws through Trini’s gut and watch her eyes open wide with horror as the life ebbed from her body.

 

“Excellent,” Daimamou said. “Have her brought to me when she awakens.”

 

***

 

A group of Dorodoro patrolled the building where the children were being kept. A walkway extended from the building’s side and across a plaza. Beneath the concrete walkway were several blocks of concrete for ornate purposes.

 

A mask was held up from behind each of the four blocks as a slight “Ku” sound came from behind them.

 

The Dorodoro tilted their heads with confusion and emitted a “Ku?” sound of their own.

 

A “Ku” answered them, and they moved closer to investigate. The masks dropped back down behind the blocks as the soldiers moved closer.

 

A Dorodoro leapt onto one of the small blocks to investigate. A red-armored leg suddenly knocked the feet out from underneath that Dorodoro. The soldier crashed back-first onto the block as Ninjared rose and slammed a knifehand chop against the fallen soldier’s chest.

 

Ninjablack snapped out a sweep kick that knocked a Dorodoro down. The Ranger stood over the fallen soldier and slammed a punch against its face.

 

Ninjayellow pounced up and grabbed onto one of the soldiers with a choke hold. “Peek-a-boo,” he said while slamming a knifehand chop against the soldier’s neck.

 

Ninjablue wrapped his legs around a soldier’s ankles and twisted, toppling that Dorodoro to the ground.

 

“Let’s move,” Ninjared said as they moved towards the building.

 

The Rangers rushed into the dimly-lit building and spotted Yuuriko and the other frightened children. The Rangers untied them.

 

***

 

Trini awoke to find herself in a dimly-lit office of a high-rise building. Her hands and feet were tied behind her back. She looked up as the fox Youkai entered the room.

 

“Glad to see you’re awake,” the Youkai said tauntingly.

 

“Where’s Yuuriko,” Trini said as she worked the knots and started to slowly untie herself.

 

“Oh, she’s safe,” the creature said. “For now at least. Now that the children have served their purpose, I suppose they’re expendable. Some of my coworkers would love to dine on them.”

 

Trini tossed her bindings aside as she rose. “You Youkai and your tricks are getting old.”

 

The monster opened her eyes with shock and quickly narrowed them with anger.

 

The ranger readied her morpher and shouted “Shogun transform!” as energy shimmered around her and she changed into her Ranger form.

 

The monster snarled as it pounced forward. Ninjawhite leapt upward with a backward somersault as the monster passed underneath her. Ninjawhite completed the flip by landing against the monster’s back and smashing the creature to the ground.

 

Ninjawhite leapt off the fallen creature and landed by the room’s exit just as the other Rangers burst in.

 

Yuuriko’s alright,” Ninjared said.

 

Ninjawhite glared at the fox Youkai. “Did you hear that, Youkai?”

 

“I’m not impressed,” the villain said as she picked up a small glass globe from a coffee table and hurled it at the Rangers. The globe exploded, and the Rangers were sent flying backward, shattering through the window.

 

The Rangers landed on the ground below in a wide area of grass and dirt surrounded by three sides with tall buildings of concrete and steel.

 

The Youkai flipped down to the ground and assumed a cat-like fighting stance while facing off with the Rangers.

 

Ninjawhite unsheathed her sword. “Let’s go.”

 

The Rangers held their blades and charged forward to attack the monster. The Youkai opened its fanged jaw and spat a stream of fire that speared towards the Rangers and exploded against their armor. The team was thrown back and suddenly found themselves surrounded by a pitch-black pocket dimension. It could have been an illusion as well, but the Rangers were too concerned with the walls of flame surrounding them to worry about their location.

 

The monster’s tail whipped forward out of the darkness and slashed across Ninjared’s chest. Another tail arced downward and slashed against Ninjablack. That tail curved around and slammed against Ninjablue with a shower of sparks.

 

Another pair of tails lashed around the throats of Ninjawhite and Ninjayellow and tightened. The cat monster stood up from the flame and laughed as she dragged the two Rangers closer to her and lifted them up by their necks. The Rangers struggled to break free, but could not.

 

The monster armed a small wooden rifle and aimed it forward. She pulled the trigger, firing a shot that exploded against Ninjawhite’s chest. The creature triggered another blast that exploded against Ninjayellow.

 

The two Rangers were thrown backward as the others regrouped around them and helped them to her feet.

 

“We have to throw her off guard,” Ninjared said as he readied his weapon. “Swords!”

 

The five Rangers placed their swords together and shouted “Shinobi flash!”

 

Bright light pulsed through the darkness, taking the monster aback as the pocket dimension blinked out of existence. The creature went rolling across the ground, still dazed by the light pulse.

 

The Rangers regrouped.

 

“Let’s finish her,” Ninjared said.

 

The Rangers combined their swords again. “Shinobi Spear!”

 

They fired a lance of golden energy that exploded through the creature as she fell backward.

 

Mystical lightning suddenly danced across the skies before striking the fallen monster, reenergizing her and causing her to grow to giant scales.

 

Even before the Rangers could ready their scrolls, Ninjor appeared in his giant form while soaring down on a cloud.

 

Ninjor!” Ninjayellow shouted.

 

“Coming down!” Ninjor shouted as he leapt off the cloud.

 

Ninjor leapt down towards the monster and slashed the creature across the chest. He followed by dashing forward and slashing her horizontally. Ninjor turned and landed another diagonal strike across the creature. Ninjor twisted his sword back and slammed a punch against the creature’s face.

 

The cat monster was forced back and regrouped while snapping into a fighting stance. “Nice shot, blue boy…you got lucky.”

 

“Blue boy?!” Ninjor said as his visor flashed with rage. “Ninja armor energize!”

 

Ninjor’s armor exploded with energy as it snapped into a samurai-type configuration with a red helmet and chest slip across the chest plate. Ninjor attached his sword to his holster to form a bladed staff weapon.

 

Ninjazords, awaken!” the Rangers shouted while opening their scrolls.

 

“Ninja Ape!” Ninjared shouted. The symbol on his scroll glowed and projected behind the Ranger before forming the mighty ape zord. Ninjared levitated backwards and merged into his zord’s cockpit.

 

“Ninja Frog!” Ninjablack shouted. The symbol on his scroll glowed and projected behind the Ranger before forming the frog zord. Ninjablack levitated backwards and merged into his zord’s cockpit.

 

“Ninja Crane!” Ninjawhite shouted. The symbol on her scroll glowed and projected behind the Ranger before forming the crane zord. Ninjawhite levitated backwards and merged into her zord’s cockpit.

 

“Ninja Wolf!” Ninjablue shouted. The symbol on his scroll glowed and projected behind the Ranger before forming the wolf zord. Ninjablue levitated backwards and merged into his zord’s cockpit.

 

“Ninja Bear!” Ninjayellow shouted. The symbol on his scroll glowed and projected behind the Ranger before forming the bear zord. Ninjayellow levitated backwards and merged into his zord’s cockpit.

 

“Ninja fusion…Kakure Shogun!” the Rangers shouted as their zords leapt into the air and started to reform. The Ninjazords combined into one giant warrior and landed on the ground below.

 

NinjaMegazordKakure Shogun!” the Rangers shouted from their cockpits.

 

White Falcon flew through the skies, its reflection shining in the Megazord’s red eyes.

 

Falconzord, combine!” the Rangers shouted. The NinjaMegazord leapt up as the falcon connected onto its back. The Megazord landed next to Ninjor, and the two allies faced off with the monster.

 

Ninjor turned to face the monster and built up a sphere of crimson energy between his hands.

 

Ninpo bomber!” he shouted as he hurled the blast forward. It exploded against the monster’s chest as the NinjaMegazord swooped down to attack.

 

NinjaMegazord…” the Rangers shouted. “Double knuckle strike!”

 

The falcon wings energized the Megazord’s two fists. The wolf fist and ape fist slammed against the Youkai with a fierce blow, smashing in the creature’s chest. The monster fell backward, his energy slowly overloading and exploding.

 

***

 

Trini sat at a picnic table near the city’s border. Nekomaru was parked nearby. Trini and Yuuriko were laughing and telling stories as the other rangers leaned against the van and watched.

 

Jonathan sighed longingly as he looked at Trini. The others looked at him and smiled.

 

“Don’t even start…” Jonathan said.

 

To be continued…Chapter Seventeen