Land of the Rising Sun: Chapter Nineteen

Youkai of Flame

 

A priest of the catholic faith peaked his head outside of an old broken down shack. Several similar structures were nearby, and no one appeared to be around.

 

The man waited quietly for a few more moments before convincing himself there was no one nearby. He took a deep breath and cautiously left the shack, moving along a dirt path as a group of men, women, and children followed.

 

Crowd members gasped and stopped in their tracks, and a man in a dark robe and black cowboy-type hat appeared blocking their path. A group of Dorodoro stood alongside the man.

 

“You should know by now,” the man said. “There’s no escaping your fate. Your purpose.” The man aimed a katana sword at them. “Back into the shed…”

 

***

 

A teenage girl stood near a wooden playground near the forest. She was slumping against a log fence, her head hung down woefully.

 

An older couple walked over to her, the sounds of happy children laughing and playing ringing through the air.

 

<What’s wrong?> the woman asked.

 

The teenager lowered her gaze further as tears stung her eyes. She slowly pulled out a matchbox. She struck a match stick against the box, and the stick ignited.

 

The flame suddenly exploded as a stream of fire stabbed through the air and formed a white-and-orange robed Youkai. The monster was clearly a creature of fire, with a grated face plate covering blood-red eyes. Its name was Kasha.

 

The park-goers screamed and ran for cover as the monster started to grab a few of the kids and their parents. Before the monster could carry off the park-goers, he heard someone shout a challenge. It was the rangers.

 

The five teens ran to the scene and snapped into fighting stances. Jason pointed at the Youkai. “Back away from the kids, Youkai!”

 

The fire Youkai launched a blast of flame that exploded around the rangers with a shower of sparks and a cloud of smoke.

 

“Shogun transform!” they shouted as they morphed into their armor and charged forward through the explosions to battle their opponent.

 

Ninjared flipped forward through the air and aimed a flying sidekick towards the villain’s head. The Youkai grabbed Ninjared’s ankle and twisted before tossing the Ranger backward.

 

Ninjared went skidding across the ground and rose to his feet as the others regrouped around him. The creature launched a salvo of fiery energy blasts that exploded against the Rangers and tossed them backward.

 

The team rose to the ground just in time to see the fire creature run back through the woods to escape.

 

“Wait!” Ninjayellow shouted as he, Ninjablack, and Ninjablue ran off towards the creature.

 

Ninjared and Ninjawhite turned their attention to the strange girl. She was sitting on the bench again with her head low. She seemed odd, and the teens wanted to know what part she played in the attack. The two Rangers powered down their armor and ran over to her.

 

Jason leaned over towards her, not wanting to seem too forceful. “Did you see what happened?”

 

She nodded and pulled out her book of matches. It seemed like she was on the verge of tears. She lit the match, and Jason and Trini saw a ghostly image within the flame of the Youkai they had just fought.

 

Jason narrowed his brow and lifted his gaze from the match to the girl’s eyes. “What are you?”

 

She shook her head. “He makes me do it…I don’t have a choice. They have my grandfather.”

 

“Who?” Trini asked. “The Youkai?”

 

The girl nodded. “He…” She shook her head while she recalled the painful memories. “I was walking with my grandfather, not too long ago, and the Youkai came to us. He took us prisoner. If I don’t serve as his conduit…he will kill my grandfather.”

 

“Conduit?” Trini asked.

 

The girl nodded. “He can’t call on his power without a conduit…I am that conduit.”

 

“I don’t understand…” Jason said.

 

The girl was about to explain when Jonathan, Richie, and Zack sprang through the woods and ran over to rejoin their friends.

 

“We lost him,” Zack said.

 

“You have to help me,” the girl said suddenly as she clung onto Jason’s arms.

 

“How?” Jason asked.

 

The girl told the rangers about the monster’s plan.

 

***

 

Daimamou’s skull palace floated through the air. The Youkai lord sat on his throne as the fire Youkai kneeled before him. “My lord,” the fire Youkai said. “I’m gathering a sacrifice so I may rejoin the ranks of the Youkai.”

 

“Ranks?” Daimamou asked as he chuckled. “There are no ranks. There is me. There are my underlings. Nothing more.”

 

“Either way,” the fire Youkai said. “My sacrifice will show you my worth.”

 

The fire Youkai twirled, transforming back into his dark-cloaked, cowboy hat form.

 

***

 

Jason walked off with the girl. She was leading him towards the area where her grandfather and the others were captured. They were approaching a staircase when the Youkai appeared in his human, dark-cloaked form. The girl waited at the foot of the steps as Jason moved forward.

 

Jason walked up the steps slowly as the dark-robed man approached. They stopped on the steps once they stood side-by-side and hesitated.

 

Jason suddenly reached out and grabbed the man’s cloak, but the villain himself vanished as the cloak went limp. The villain reappeared behind Jason and snapped out with a kick, sending the ranger tumbling down the rocky staircase.

 

Jason lied on the ground, his body unmoving.

 

“Jason!” the girl shouted as she leaned over the ranger. The Youkai walked towards them and laughed.

 

***

 

Jason slowly opened his eyes, finding himself tied on the floor of a shack with his arms behind his back. He reached into his back pocket and activated his morpher’s homing signal as the Youkai walked inside while in its monster form.

 

“What are you?” Jason asked. “You’re no normal Youkai.”

 

“Not yet anyway,” the monster said. “Your ancestors, the Kakuranger, could not destroy me. I was too powerful, even for them. But they outwitted me. Entombed me in an icy prison. I managed to break free only recently…but my Youkai form was no longer powerful. I required a channel…a conduit…and I found one, by using a little persuasion.”

 

“What have you done to her?” Jason asked as he wrinkled his brow.

 

“It doesn’t matter,” the Youkai said as the rest of the prisoners were brought in by Dorodoro. “With the sacrifice of all my captives, I’ll regain a place among Daimamou and the Youkai. I’ll grow to my previous power levels. No one will stand in my way.”

 

Before Jason could answer, tapes of cloth lashed out and wrapped around the ranger as if he were a mummy. Cloth incased the other prisoners as well, paralyzing them all.

 

The fire Youkai laughed and turned to the Dorodoro. “Get the fire started.”

 

***

 

The mummified bodies were piled into a clearing within the woods as the fire Youkai looked up to the sky. “This, Daimamou, is for you!”

 

“No!” the other four rangers shouted as they suddenly ran onto the scene.

 

The Youkai laughed. “You’re too late, Rangers…” He looked to the Dorodoro. “Do it…”

 

The Dorodoro dropped torches onto the pile of wrapped captives, and they all quickly ignited with a massive burst of flame that spread like wildfire.

 

The flame Youkai started to laugh as he watched the plumes of smoke reach up to the sky.

 

“What’s so funny?” a voice said from behind the creature. He turned to see Jason standing at the top of a hill.

 

“What?!” the monster shrieked.

 

The other rangers regrouped around Jason and snapped into fighting stances.

 

Trini smiled. “We followed Jason here…and switched the captives with dummies…”

 

“You’ve ruined everything…” the monster grumbled.

 

“That was the idea,” Jonathan said as the rangers readied their morphers.

 

“Shogun transform, Ninja Power!” they shouted as thy activated their changers and morphed into their Ranger forms. “Shogun Task Force, Ninja Rangers!”

 

The Rangers unsheathed their swords and charged towards the monster to attack. The fire Youkai energized his shield with a fiery blaze and hurled it towards the Rangers. The flaming shield spun as it exploded against the Rangers and sent them crashing back to the ground.

 

The monster was about to gloat, when he noticed all that remained were the Rangers’ empty uniforms lying on the ground. “What…”

 

A ripping shockwave tore across the ground towards the monster. The flame Youkai turned to see Ninjablack spring up from the earth. The Ranger angled his descent towards the monster with his blade at the ready. Ninjablack swung downward with a diagonal strike that sparked against the creature. The Ranger followed with a slashing horizontal blow.

 

The monster’s body was whipped around by force, as Ninjablue and Ninjayellow leapt down and sliced the creature back with a pair of vertical strikes.

 

The creature was forced back as Ninjared and Ninjawhite crisscrossed each others’ paths to face off with the creature.

 

Ninpo shard attack!” Ninjawhite shouted as a cloud of diamonds appeared floating before her. The diamonds stormed towards her opponent and exploded against the Youkai.

 

Ninjared charged his sword and falcon saber with powerful energy and pounced forward towards the creature. He swung the energized blades in an x-shaped pattern, then sliced horizontally. Explosions slashed across the Youkai as the creature was thrown backward.

 

The fallen monster summoned lightning upon itself and used its power to grow giant.

 

Ninjazords, awaken!” the Rangers shouted as powerful lightning shot across the skies.

 

“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.

 

The Megazord and monster charged at each other. NinjaMegazord launched a knifehand blow with its wolf hand that the creature blocked. NinjaMegazord followed through with an ape punch, but the Youkai parried the blow and roundkicked the Megazord.

 

The fire Youkai charged its shield with flaming energy and threw the disc forward. The shield exploded against the Megazord and knocked it backwards.

 

“Rangers!” a voice shouted from above. It was Ninjor, swooping down on a cloud.

 

Ninjor leapt downwards and ran his blade across the creature’s body. He followed with a horizontal strike and a diagonal blow.

 

“You will never beat the Rangers, villain,” Ninjor said as he stepped back into a fighting stance. “Not as long as I’m here.”

 

“Try to stop me, blue boy,” the Youkai said.

 

“Blue boy…?!Ninjor said as his anger started to rise. “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.

 

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 they 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.

 

***

 

The grandfather priest hugged his teenage granddaughter as the two reunited. The others stood nearby, watching the pair reunite.

 

To be continued…Chapter Twenty