Land of the Rising Sun: Chapter Twenty-Two

Hakumenrou Strikes

 

Darabotchi screamed with discord as energy continued to saturate her body, crimson lightning dancing across her skin. She was standing in the middle of Daimamou’s throne room as the Youkai Lord stood at his balcony, which was the mouth of the floating skull palace.

 

“The end has come,” Daimamou said quietly. “The Ninja Rangers will die, and nothing will stand in our way…”

 

Daimamou turned and walked back towards his throne, passing the screaming Darabotchi without sparing her a glance. The Youkai Lord walked over to the stone statue that used to be Trini’s living and breathing father. His name was Hakumenrou.

 

The Youkai lord ran his hand across the statue, slowly voicing a spell as tendrils of energy left his hands and spread across the stone body of Hakumenrou. Daimamou grinned as the statue’s eyes snapped open and the stone became animate.

 

***

 

Trini was walking through a grassy park in Tokyo along with her young friend Yuuriko. They were having a small picnic in the middle of a clearing. A view of the close skyline was nearby, just above the trees. The other four rangers shortly joined the two, and they sat together on a deep-red blanket.

 

Zack opened a small box and readied his chopsticks. “It still amazes me how many different versions of this stuff they have here…I’m going to miss eating anything else.”

 

Jonathan laughed. “That is so not true.”

 

Zack shrugged. “I suppose not.”

 

Yuuriko reached out and touched Trini’s arm. “When do you have to leave?”

 

Trini sighed. Their study abroad trip was almost over, which meant it was almost time to head back to the United States.

 

“About a month,” Trini said.

 

It was Yuuriko’s turn to sigh. “Will you come visit.

 

Trini rustled Yuuriko’s hair. “Count on it…”

 

Jason narrowed his brow and looked out into the distance. Less than a month…They had less than a month to stop Daimamou and the Youkai. Less than a month to win.

 

***

 

A large explosion suddenly tore through the streets, kicking up debris and shooting torrents of flame as citizens ran in panic. A figure walked slowly through the smoke, his posture was rigid and zombie-like. It was Hakumenrou, still mindless in his rock form.

 

The rangers quickly ran to the scene against the flow of running and panicked crowds. Yuuriko stayed a safe distance behind the teens, having followed them despite their telling her to stay.

 

Trini’s face grew pale at the site of what used to be her dad.

 

“Father!” she shouted.

 

Hakumenrou’s expression remained blank as he turned, not even bothering to face the rangers, and blasted a group of people who had been running for their lives.

 

“No!” Jason shouted as he and the others readied their morphers. “We have to do this, Trini.”

 

Trini nodded, a look of grief and anger on her face.

 

“Shogun transform-” Explosions suddenly sparked around the rangers, throwing them back and ripping their clothes before they could morph.

 

They rose to their feet and looked off to the right to see Darabotchi floating forward. She was surrounded by the Hana Ninja, dressed in their gray ninja robes and signature-colored scarves. Darabotchi held her palm up, crimson electricity dancing between her fingers.

 

Darabotchi tilted her head and stared at Trini, a sick glimmer of pleasure in her eyes. “Do you like what we’ve done to him?”

 

Trini glared at the villain. “Change him back!”

 

“What makes you think we even can?” Darabotchi asked mockingly.

 

Hakumenrou turned his head and fired another optic blast that exploded through a building, creating a massive shockwave. Some people were blasted backward while others were trapped under debris. They screamed in anguish and panic.

 

“Stop!” Trini shouted again.

 

“Trini!” Yuuriko shouted as she ran forward towards her mentor. “What’s happening?”

 

Jason placed a hand on Trini’s shoulder. “Get her out of here…”

 

Trini nodded and ran back towards her friend to lead her to safety.

 

More people screamed as Hakumenrou fired another optic blast. A dark swirling cloud appeared above the city, circling with crimson energy. The energy grew in intensity each time a new voice joined the chorus of screams below.

 

***

 

Trini ran through the woods while leading along a confused Yuuriko. Trini ignored the girl’s questions and kept running, trying to get her to safety, trying to escape the reality of what her father had done.

 

The two heard a shrill laughter come from behind them. They stopped and turned, Trini making sure Yuuriko stayed behind her. It was Darabotchi, stepping out from behind a tree with her head tilted back, laughing mockingly.

 

Darabotchi lowered her gaze and stared at Trini. “You amuse me, child…do you see what your father causes?”

 

Darabotchi extended her hand back towards the cloud above the city. “That cloud of energy…it’s formed from grief and despair. Anger and rage. Sorrow and madness. It was from this power that we Youkai were born. It is this power we summon to grow. It is this power…this power that has now reached its peak, thanks to your father. We will become invincible.”

 

“I don’t believe you,” Trini said as she glared at the villain.

 

The villainous shrugged. “It hardly matters. You’ll realize I’m telling the truth, and by then, it will be too late. There’s only one way to stop your father now…and you don’t have what it takes, I’m afraid.”

 

Yuuriko looked up to Trini. “Your father?”

 

“Not now, Yuuriko,” Trini said to her young friend. She looked back to the monster. “What are you talking about, Youkai?”

 

Darabotchi pulled a skull-handled dagger from behind her back and tossed it forward like a throwing knife. The blade jammed into a tree with its bronze and gold handle sticking out.

 

“This blade is the only weapon that can pierce through your father’s stone. The only weapon that can change him back,” Darabotchi said. “You’d have to kill him to stop him.”

 

Trini narrowed her eyes at the Youkai. “Never.”

 

Darabotchi laughed. “Exactly my point…”

 

The creature teleported away with a flash of crimson energy.

 

***

 

Jason, Zack, Richie, and Jonathan regrouped just outside the damaged part of the city.

 

“Where’s Trini?” Jonathan asked.

 

Zack shook his head. “She should have been back by now…”

 

“She probably ran into trouble,” Jason said. “All right, this is the plan…”

 

Before Jason could speak, a phantom-like, giant image of the Three God Generals appeared: NinjaMegazord, ShogunMegazord, and White Falcon.

 

“Rangers,” the rumbling combined voice of the Sanshinshou said. “You must stop Trini before it is too late.”

 

Jonathan gave the generals a look of disbelief. “I’m sorry…did you say stop Trini?”

 

“The cloud of despair grows stronger by the minute…but no despair is as strong as that which causes one to murder their own father,” Sanshinshou said. “If Trini kills Hakumenrou, the cloud of anger and sorrow will make the Youkai invincible. Stop her…”

 

The vision of the Sanshinshou vanished.

 

***

 

Trini and Yuuriko walked through the park, gaining distance from the city and Darabotchi.

 

“Where are we going?” Yuuriko asked.

 

Trini hadn’t even given the simple question thought. She just wanted to go and didn’t care which way she went or where she ended up.

 

Explosions suddenly sparked around the two friends and tossed them to the ground. Trini’s face grew pale as she looked up to see her stone-encased father standing with his hand extended.

 

Hakumenrou grabbed hold of Yuuriko with an invisible stand of energy and pulled. Yuuriko was thrown off her feet and sent tumbling across the ground away from Trini.

 

Hakumenrou unsheathed his golden-hilted sword and aimed towards Yuuriko, firing jagged beams of blood-red energy that exploded around her. Yuuriko rolled for cover as the shockwave knocked her backward. Hakumenrou continued to stalk forward.

 

“Help!” she shouted to Trini.

 

Trini rolled her hands up into fists, knowing she had no choice but to act. She pulled out her morpher.

 

“Shogun transform!” she shouted as energy whirled around her and she morphed into her Ranger form.

 

image003Ninjawhite leapt through the air and unsheathed her sword, swinging down towards her father. Hakumenrou turned and parried the blow before countering with a horizontal strike across the Ranger’s chest. Hakumenrou swung his sword again, but Ninjawhite blocked the blow with an outer crescent kick, and followed by skipping forward and swinging her blade downward. Hakumenrou parried the blow and slashed his daughter across the chest.

 

Ninjawhite fell back, remembering what Darabotchi said about the dagger. She shook her head, dismissing the thought. “Father…” she pleaded. “You’re still inside there somewhere…I know it.”

 

Hakumenrou fired optic pulse blasts that exploded against Ninjawhite and tossed her and Yuuriko backwards. Yuuriko’s body went limp while rolling across the ground.

 

“No!” Ninjawhite shouted as she ran over to the young girl.

 

Ninjawhite bent down and scooped Yuuriko into her arms. The girl wasn’t moving. The White Ranger raised her head and glared at her father.

 

“Stop doing this!” Ninjawhite shouted.

 

Hakumenrou turned and started to walk back towards the city to cause more chaos.

 

***

 

Trini walked back into the woods with a grim look of determination on her face. She slowly made her way towards the area where she had run into Darabotchi. The ranger’s body was stiff with anger and grief as she searched the area for what she needed.

 

Trini eyed the skull-hilted dagger sticking in a tree nearby. She slowly walked over to the weapon, her mind clouded with confusion and doubt. Could she really do it? Really plunge this weapon into her own father?

 

Her mind flashed back to Yuuriko, to the city of people in panic, slowly being consumed by death. Trini reached out and pulled the blade from the tree.

 

***

 

The other rangers road in Nekomaru, tracking down Trini by following the signal from her morpher. Jonathan was at the wheel, driving along the outskirts of the city.

 

“Out by the shore,” Richie said as he watched Trini’s path via the tracking device.

 

Jonathan made a hard left and headed towards Trini’s location.

 

***

 

Trini walked around the rocky shore, the skull dagger held tightly in her right hand. The dagger was somehow leading her to Hakumenrou, prompting her where to go.

 

Trini looked over her right shoulder and spotted a cave in the distance. She turned towards the cave and started walking towards it, knowing that her father was inside.

 

***

 

Trini entered the dark cave and saw Hakumenrou sitting motionless on a stone with his eyes closed. She started walking towards him, a tear creeping down her cheek as she lifted the dagger.

 

***

 

Nekomaru pulled up to the rocky shore as the rangers immediately hopped out.

 

“This way,” Jason said as he spotted the cave in the distance and led the others in a sprint.

 

***

 

Trini lifted the dagger and closed her eyes tight, tears streaming down her cheek. She hesitated, hands shaking as she shook her head.

 

“No,” she said as she dropped the dagger and threw her arms around her father, breaking down and crying. “I can’t do it…I just can’t…you have to still be inside…”

 

***

 

The others continued their sprint towards the cave, but a line of explosions sparked in front of their path. They skid to a halt as Darabotchi and the Hana Ninja appeared.

 

“Going somewhere?” Darabotchi asked tauntingly.

 

Jason readied his morpher. “Let’s do it…”

 

“Shogun transform, Ninja Power!” they shouted as energy twirled around them and they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

Battoru Henge!” The Hana shouted as sparkling energy twirled around them and they transformed into their feline armor.

 

The Ninja Rangers unsheathed their swords and charged forward towards the Hana. The Hana Rangers armed their own blades and dashed forward to meet their opponents.

 

Ninjablue leapt through the air with his sword held blade down and handle up. Hana Purple leapt through the air towards him with her own saber. The two clashed in midair. Hana Purple parried the Ranger’s blow and slashed him across the chest.

 

Ninjablue landed back-first against the ground as Hana Purple landed on her feet and charged towards him. Ninjablue rose to his knees and rolled forward, passing underneath a horizontal strike from Hana Purple. She turned and swung her blade towards the Ranger’s head. Ninjablue blocked the blow and arced his weapon back around to strike Hana Purple, but she parried his saber.

 

Ninjablack faced off with Hana Pink.

 

image005Shinobi knuckle!” he shouted while arming his fist weapon on his left hand and held his sword in his right hand.

 

Ninjablack moved towards Hana Pink with a backfist and sword strike combo, but she parried both blows. The Ranger moved forward with an outer crescent kick that Hana Pink ducked under. The Hana rose and swung her blade towards Ninjablack. He blocked the blow with his saber and slammed his knuckle across her head.

 

Hana Pink went rolling across the ground and rose to her knees, turning towards Ninjablack while extending her hand. She launched a cloud of sparkling energy that surrounded Ninjablack and exploded against his armor.

 

Ninjayellow charged towards Hana Blue.

 

Ninjayellow swung his blade horizontally towards the villain, but she parried and arced her sword around towards the Ranger’s head. Ninjayellow parried her blow and swung diagonally towards her chest, but she vanished before the blade could connect.

 

image007Hana Blue reappeared behind Ninjayellow and lunged forward, slashing her blade across his back. He turned and swung his sword at her, but she parried and slashed her sword against his chest. His armor suddenly went limp like cloth and fell to the ground as his body vanished.

 

Ninjayellow reappeared swooping down from the sky from behind his opponent. Hana Blue turned and extended her hand, launching a torrent of dusty wind that knocked Ninjayellow from the air and to the ground.

 

Ninjared squared off with Hana Green and Hana Orange.

 

The Red Ranger swung his blade down towards Hana Green’s head, but she blocked the blow. Ninjared snapped his leg around and hook kicked towards Hana Orange, but she ducked under the blow. Hana Green charged forward and slashed Ninjared across the chest with a horizontal blow. He turned to counter strike, but Hana Orange sliced him across the back.

 

Ninjared rose back to his feet, using his sword for support. The other Rangers regrouped around him, as the Hana Rangers and Darabotchi regrouped as well.

 

Darabotchi extended her hand and fired an energy pulse that exploded against the Rangers’ armor.

 

***

 

Trini held onto the stone cold figure that used to be her father.

 

To be continued…Chapter 23