Author's note: The following story takes place in 2003, almost immediately after the Season Two movie Dying Planet. The Power Rangers and Ninja Rangers are on their way back to Earth.

 

Shadows of Evil: Chapter One

Dark Awakenings

 

The Rangers’ zords zoomed past the moon on their way back to Earth. They didn’t notice a palace that had appeared on the moon‘s surface. The structure resembled an inflated crater. Inside, Lord Zedd watched the zords enter Earth’s atmosphere.

 

“They’re back,” Zedd said. His head was a metal skull with grated teeth. His brain was visible above his blood-red visor.

 

Draklith, a bulky figure whose armor was covered in spikes, approached his master. “Finster has an army of Golems ready, master. I am prepared to lead them,” he said. His face resembled that of a skeleton with dark-red eyes.

 

“You couldn’t lead an army out of a paper bag,” Trakeena said as she stepped out from the shadows. Her whole body was covered in leathery, insectoid-type armor. “I’ll destroy them.”

 

Someone cackled further down the complex. It was Levina. She wore a tattered brown robe and carried a long staff with a crystal ball on the end. Her face was green and wrinkly.

 

“You are all fools if you hope to defeat the Rangers in a direct assault,” Levina said. “They’ve beaten DaiSatan, Bandora, the Gorma, the Youkai, and now Dae‘mon.”

 

“Silence all of you!” Zedd growled. “I am aware of the Rangers’ track record, and I’m not impressed. I have slaughtered hundreds of Ranger teams before. These will be no different. You’re forgetting that they are children.”

 

“Powerful children,” Levina said. “You forget the prophecies about the One, the Dragon who-”

 

“Silence!” Zedd yelled again. “Prophecies don’t concern me, only power. Power I will have once I claim this planet as my own…Finster!”

 

A strange-looking troll waddled out from the back chambers. “Yes, your excellence.”

 

“I want to test these Rangers…see how strong they’ve really become,” Zedd said. “Make me something appropriate.”

 

“Right away, your highness,” Finster said as he bowed and backed away.

 

Zedd turned to his underlings. “You will all accompany whatever Finster cooks up in his lab.”

 

***

 

The teens and Kou walked through the park after landing back on Earth. Jonathan stretched his arms and breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s good to be back home,” Jonathan said.

 

“Tell me about it,” Zack agreed.

 

Kimberly noticed a stern look on Tommy’s face. His brow was knitted. “What’s wrong?” she asked him.

 

“I’m worried about these trials Zordon told us about,” Tommy said.

 

Then, Tommy suddenly had an out-of-body experience. He found himself surrounded by nothing but white light. He could hear his own heart beat. “Who’s there?” he shouted.

 

“It’s me, Tommy,” a voice said.

 

Tommy recognized the voice as the Dark Man’s.

 

“You…” Tommy said. “Get out of my head!”

 

“Oh Tommy,” the Dark Man said, “you should be worried about the trials Zordon spoke of. He knows far more than he’s telling…almost as much as I know. Give that girlfriend of yours a big hug when we’re done talking, boy, because in just a few minutes…well…let’s just say that after today, none of you will be happy again for a very long time.”

 

“Is that a threat? What are you planning?”

 

“Oh Tommy, it’s a warning, I am planning nothing. Lord Zedd has returned.”

 

“I thought Zordon…”

 

“He banished Zedd, but now he’s back…just like Bandora, the Gorma, Youkai, Dae’mon and DaiSatan came back. Just like many more will come back.”

 

“More?”

 

“Oh yes…what a heavy burden to have on your shoulders,” the Dark Man said.

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“I’m afraid we’re out of time…be strong, Tommy…remember what Kaku taught you, and be mindful of what Zordon will teach you.”

 

Tommy snapped back into reality and grabbed his head in pain. “Man, what was that?”

 

“What’s wrong?” Kimberly asked as she placed a hand on Tommy‘s back.

 

“Tommy, are you okay?” Jason asked.

 

Tommy shook his head. “I don’t-”

 

Explosions suddenly sparked around the rangers as they rolled across the ground for cover. Draklith and Trakeena appeared, and they were surrounded by an army of Golems, slim creatures made of rock with fiery veins covering their bodies and blood-red eyes. Another soldier, Vex, was with them. He looked much like the Golems, only his veins and eyes were cold, icy blue. He carried a sword on his back.

 

“It’s morphin time!” Tommy shouted as he and the others rose to their feet.

 

“Chakra ignite!”

 

“Shogun transform!”

 

“Aura/Ninja/Kiba Power!” Blinding waves of energy shimmered and swirled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

“You must be Zedd’s goons,” Dragon Ranger said as he snapped into a fighting stance.

 

Draklith tightened his grip on his sword. “And you…are dead…Lightning Spike!”

 

The spikes on his armor electrified and shot towards the Rangers, exploding against them as they fell to the ground.

 

The Golems rushed in and attacked. The soldiers were agile, and they struck faster than anything the Rangers were used to fighting. The Rangers tried to fend off the creatures, but they couldn’t. The Golems pounded against the two teams.

 

Trakeena held her staff towards the Rangers and fired a green energy bolt. The bolt slammed against the Rangers hard and took out a few soldiers in the process with a massive wave of explosions and sparks.

 

Vex leapt towards the Rangers, and while still in midair, he swung his sword and produced a shockwave that ripped the ground out from underneath the Rangers’ feet.

 

Then Finster’s monster appeared. The creature, named Blak’wergremon, resembled a two-legged dragon covered in black armor. The creature had armored claws along his arms and a golden two-part shield.

 

The monster assembled a giant red energy sphere that he hurled at the Rangers.

 

The Power Rangers stood their ground as the sphere streaked towards them.

 

“Keep it together guys,” Dragon Ranger said as he and his teammates placed their hands in front of them. They used their Kiryoku to hold off the blast and repel it back towards the monster.

 

The monster was hit by his own blast and sent crashing through a few tree trunks.

 

The Power Rangers helped the Ninja Rangers to their feet as the Golems surrounded them.

 

Trakeena laughed as she aimed her staff at the Rangers. “You’re making this too easy.”

 

“Not for long,” Dragon Ranger said. “Thunder Staffs!” The Rangers armed their red staffs.

 

The Ninja Rangers unsheathed their swords. The two groups of Rangers adapted to the Golems and fought through them, blades and staffs whirling in blurs of motion while snapping and cracking against the grunts of rock and stone.

 

Dragon Ranger, Tenma Ranger, and Ninjared made their way through the soldiers and ran towards Draklith.

 

Draklith slammed his sword into the ground and produced a shockwave that tore the ground apart.

 

“Jump!” Dragon Ranger shouted as they jumped over the ground-tearing wave and towards their opponent.

 

Draklith high blocked Tenma Ranger and Dragon Rangers’ staffs, but Ninjared moved in low and cut Draklith across the chest, blade sparking on impact. The Red Ninja Ranger then turned and sliced the villain across the chest diagonally.

 

“Thunderbolt Cut!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he unsheathed and energized his Thunder Sword and Star Cutter. He swung the blades down in streaks of power that slashed across the villain.

 

“Star Blade…Lightning Strike!” Tenma Ranger shouted. He extended his ring-shaped blade, energized it, and shot the blade forward in a streak of power that exploded against Draklith.

 

The Rangers moved in with their weapons to strike again, but Draklith fired eye beams that struck the three Rangers against their chests.

 

As the three Rangers rose to their knees, Blak’wergremon swooped in and clawed them across their chests, sending them crashing back to the ground.

 

Nearby, Lion Ranger leapt through the air towards Vex with his Lion Staff. The villain leapt towards the Green Ranger with his blade, the two clashed weapons in midair, and Lion Ranger was struck across the back. He fell to the ground as Vex landed on his feet and charged towards the fallen Ranger.

 

“Not so fast!” Kiba Ranger flying double sidekicked the villain away, and then the White Ranger attacked. “Heaven Roaring Star, Sound Bite!”

 

His sonic attacks had no affect on the creature. The villain ran in and swiped Kiba Ranger across the chest horizontally while spinning around. The villain then hopped towards the Ranger and sliced him across the chest diagonally, causing the Ranger to fall and roll across the ground.

 

After a few more minutes of fighting, the Rangers were all defeated and held up by Golems. A lightning bolt struck the ground, and Lord Zedd appeared. “Well, well…this was supposed to just be a test of your powers…but it looks like I win earlier than expected.”

 

“I wouldn’t jump to conclusions,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

“Ah, the mighty Dragon Ranger…Tommy of the Fire Star…” Zedd said as he walked over to the Ranger and held his head up with metallic fingertips. “You and your friends have disappointed me.”

 

Zedd turned his back on the Rangers and walked away. “Kill them,” he said as the villains all prepared to deliver fatal energy blows.

 

“No!” Kiba Ranger shouted as he knocked away the soldiers that were holding him. He unsheathed his tiger saber and aimed the weapon forward before charging towards Zedd.

 

Zedd turned and held up his staff.

 

“Kou, no!” Phoenix Ranger shouted.

 

Kiba Ranger leapt towards Zedd and held Byakkoshinken high.

 

Zedd fired energy tentacles from his staff that coursed around and through Kiba Ranger, explosions and sparks ripping across his armor as he fell to the ground.

 

Kiba Ranger rose and ran towards Zedd, shouting at the top of his lungs.

 

Zedd held his staff horizontally, knocked Kiba Ranger in the faceplate, and then turned, jamming the end of his staff through Kiba Ranger’s chest.

 

“No!” the Rangers yelled.

 

Zedd removed his staff, and Kiba Ranger slumped onto the ground as his armor shimmered away.

 

“Nooo!” Dragon Ranger shouted as red energy shimmered around him. “Hell Storm!”

 

Red, fiery energy circled around him and expanded with explosive force. The Rangers and Zedd’s army were all thrown off their feet as Dragon Ranger charged towards Zedd.

 

“Twin Dragon Swords!” he shouted as he leapt through the air. “Saber Flare!”

 

A flare of white-hot energy cut towards the villain. Zedd held his staff vertically and split the flare. “I’m not impressed.”

 

“You will be!” Dragon Ranger jump-reverse crescent kicked Zedd, but the villain blocked the blow with his staff. Dragon Ranger spun a hook kick towards Zedd, but the villain blocked that blow and followed by blasting Dragon Ranger with an energy pulse that pushed him across the ground.

 

Dragon Ranger rose to his knees. “Star Fire!”

 

A comet of fiery energy shot forward. Zedd was hit hard and pushed back, giving Dragon Ranger enough time to rush the villain. “Burn Knuckle!”

 

Dragon Ranger’s fiery fist slammed against Zedd’s chest, causing the evil master to be pushed backwards. Dragon Ranger moved in again, but Blak’wergremon flew by and clawed the Ranger away, the blow sparking across the Ranger‘s chest.

 

Zedd stood back and teleported away with a burst of crimson lightning.

 

The monster took several swings at Dragon Ranger, but the Red Ranger managed to block or dodge them all.

 

The other Rangers rose to their feet and went to help. The Power Rangers ran towards the monster, but Draklith, Trakeena, and Vex blocked the Ninja Rangers’ path.

 

“Let’s take 'em out!” Ninjared said. The Ninja Rangers held their blades forward and charged towards their opponents.

 

Nearby, the Rangers attacked Blak’wergremon.

 

“Heaven Fire Star, Lightning Flames of Destruction!” Dragon Ranger used his swords to launch a torrent of flame that crackled with energy. The blast slammed against the monster’s shield, forcing him backward.

 

As soon as the monster separated his shield, Tenma Ranger and Kirin Ranger moved in.

 

“Tenma Screw Kick!” the Blue Ranger shouted as he spun forward and slammed a drill kick against the monster.

 

“Kirin Crash!” the Yellow Ranger moved in with a flying tackle that knocked the monster backward, sending the creature skidding across the ground.

 

The Power Rangers regrouped as the dragon monster rose to his feet.

 

“Kiryoku Bazooka!” Dragon Ranger shouted.

 

The Power Rangers summoned their bazooka and armed the weapon, aiming forward at the monster. The Rangers fired a massive burst of energy that rolled across the air towards the villain. The black monster hovered backward while using his shield to deflect the blast.

 

The Power Rangers armed their ring-shaped blades and charged the weapons with energy. “Star Blade Assault!” The blades shot forward in streaks of blue energy.

 

The first three blades clashed against the monster’s shield and knocked it away. The next two Star Blades slashed against the creature’s chest with a massive explosion that knocked the monster from the air. The creature crashed to the ground and stumbled backward.

 

Back in Zedd’s palace, Levina stared at the creature through her crystal ball. She whispered an incantation with her hackled voice. Back on the Earth, the spell caused the monster to expand and grow giant.

 

The Power Rangers unsheathed their Thunder Swords and raised the blades into the air while holding their Thunder Gems. “Thunderzords arise!”

 

The five Thunderzords appeared in the air. The Rangers used their Thunder Blasters like grappling hooks to reel themselves into their zords’ cockpits.

 

The Red Ranger placed a hand on his zord’s crystal control sphere. “Red Dragon, rise up!”

 

Tendrils of crimson energy danced across the zord’s armor as the Red Dragon changed shape. The massive zord reconfigured into its warrior mode and landed on the ground to face off with monster.

 

Dragon Ranger’s Thunder Gem began to glow with deep red power. The Red Ranger called upon that power as he called out. “Thunder Star Fusion!”

 

Lightning struck each of the zords as they radiated with energy. The zords started to change shape and reconfigure as they merged with Red Dragon. Tenma and Kirin formed armor around the Dragon’s legs as the Phoenix wrapped around its waist. The Lion formed a chest plate and wrapped around the zord’s upper arms as a gold-and-black helmet slid into place.

 

The Rangers joined in the central cockpit. “MegaThunderzord!” they shouted together. “Dairenou!”

 

The Ninja Rangers continued the battle on the ground below.

 

Ninjared and Ninjawhite swung their blades horizontally towards Draklith, but the villain blocked the blow, knocked the swords away, and slashed the two Rangers onto the ground.

 

Vex leapt towards Ninjablue and Ninjayellow, but they disappeared in a cloud of smoke before his strike could connect.

 

The two Rangers reappeared behind Vex and struck him across the back.

 

Above, the MegaThunderzord backfisted Blak’wergremon twice, but the monster knocked the Megazord’s fists away and jabbed its fist spikes against the Megazord’s chest armor.

 

The monster then prepared a sphere of energy and hurled it at the Megazord, knocking it onto the ground.

 

Dairenou slowly rose from the ground. “Whirlwind strike!” They fired an energy cyclone with the Megazord’s saber, but the monster passed the cyclone, sliced the Megazord across the chest, and kicked the Megazord back a few steps.

 

“MegaThunderzord Saber, Lightning Slash!” the Ranger shouted as the Megazord energized its blade and swung downward.

 

The monster blocked the blow and jammed its fist spikes through the chest and through the cockpit. The spikes caused massive explosions to rip through the Megazord. The Rangers were blasted from the cockpit and crashed onto the ground below.

 

Dairenou took a few steps back. The Megazord’s armor was ripped from its body, explosions and flame consuming Dairenou.

 

“Our zords!” the Power Rangers shouted as they watched their Kidenjuu die.

 

The Ninja Rangers stepped forward with their scrolls.

 

“Shogunzords, awaken!” They shouted. The five mighty zords rose from the earth as energy surged around them. The Rangers hovered backward and merged into their zords with pulses of light.

 

“Shogunzord fusion!” Red Ape shouted.

 

The five zords stampeded forward. Each zord flashed with energy and started to reconfigure. The zords merged together, armor meshing and energy crackling with booming thunder. A flash of golden light erupted from the zords as they formed the ShogunMegazord.

 

The NinjaMegazord soared down from the skies as well. The White Falcon was mounted on its back.

 

Zedd’s monster stepped backward and teleported away in a flash of pale light. The villain’s ground forces retreated as well, leaving with a flash of crimson power.

 

***

 

The teens demorphed and ran towards Kou. He was still alive, but barely. Kimberly kneeled down next to him, scooping the young boy into her arms as tears streamed down her cheeks. “We have to get him back to the Command Chamber!”

 

“Phoenix Ranger…” Kou said weakly as he smiled. “Thank you…mother…”

 

His eyes rolled back, and his body went limp as his life ended. Kimberly held him tight and cried.

 

***

 

“You got lucky, Zedd,” Levina said.

 

“That went better than expected,” Zedd said. “I overestimated them. Kiba Ranger is dead. Their zords are gone.”

 

“What about the Ninja Rangers?” Levina said.

 

“They are not the Chosen. They are not the Five Stars of Heaven,” Zedd said. “Once the Power Rangers are defeated, I will easily destroy the Ninja Rangers too…however…fighting ten Rangers at once will wear our resources down. Finster’s creature may have destroyed Dairenou, but it took a lot out of him. The other two Megazords would have destroyed him.”

 

Zedd held his staff down towards Earth as it glowed with energy. “I will create a distraction for them. There are still Youkai around...I will draw them all to Angel Grove…that will keep the Ninja Rangers out of my way for the most part.”

 

***

 

The teens all gathered in the Command Chamber. Kimberly was still crying, and Tommy held her. Her head was buried in his chest.

 

“The Youkai?” Jason asked.

 

“Yes,” Zordon said. “Zedd is most likely trying to divide our forces…unfortunately, he is succeeding. Jason, you and your team must be on guard to handle any remaining Youkai. The Power Rangers will defend the Earth from Zedd.”

 

“And how the hell are we supposed to do that?!” Rocky said. “They killed Kou and our zords!”

 

“You must become stronger,” Zordon said.

 

“How?” Adam said. “They killed our zords.”

 

“Adam’s right, Zordon,” Billy said. “How are we supposed to fight?”

 

“There will be time for that later,” Zordon said. “Now is the time for grieving. I suggest you return to your homes. Power Rangers…return tomorrow and we will address the threat of Lord Zedd.”

 

“What about us?” Jason asked.

 

“Alpha and I will contact you if any Youkai activity occurs.”

 

Jason nodded.

 

***

 

The five teens buried Kou near the cave where his mother and brother had died. Only the sound of the wind broke their silence. Kimberly kneeled down at the grave and buried her face in her hands. She cried as Tommy held her close.

 

Tommy’s mind flashed back to what the Dark Man had told him: "After today, none of you will be happy again for a very long time."

 

The sun was setting in the distance. Kou stood on the rocky shore and stared out at the water. The teens walked up behind him.

 

“Kou,” Kimberly whispered.

 

“Phoenix Ranger…” Kou said, trying to hide his tears. “My mother, she…”

 

Kou broke down and cried. He turned to Kimberly and ran towards her, wrapping his arms around her in a tight hug. Kimberly ran her hand along the back of his head. “Shhh…”

 

“Kou,” Tommy said as he removed his jacket and wrapped it around the boy. “It will be okay…we’ll take care of you.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 02