Shadows of Evil: Chapter Seven

Return of an Old Foe

 

“Rocky get up…you’ll be late for school!” his mother shouted from downstairs.

 

Rocky placed his pillow over his head. “Just five more minutes…” he mumbled.

 

His younger twin siblings Miguel and Julia ran into his room and hopped onto his bed. “Mom said get up!” Miguel said as he shook Rocky.

 

Moooom,” Rocky yelled “call off the twins!”

 

They laughed as they continued to shake him.

 

***

 

Goldar crawled through the sewers of Angel Grove. He spotted a rat, stabbed it with his sword, and ate it. Goldar stabbed a second rat and held the rodent in his hand.

 

He heard a laugh behind him as he turned around to face Lord Zedd. “The master warrior from Titan reduced to this…pathetic,” Zedd said.

 

“You…” Goldar grumbled. Goldar had worked under Zedd at one time. “I thought Zordon had destroyed you.”

 

“Wouldn’t be the first time you were wrong…but I’m not here to dig up the past,” Zedd said. “I’m more concerned with the future.”

 

“Your concerns mean as much to me as this rat,” Goldar said as he bit the head off the rodent.

 

“The rats are your only means of survival anymore…I can change that,” Zedd said.

 

Goldar held his sword forward and charged at Zedd. But Zedd swung his staff and knocked Goldar aside with ease. “Get up, you gold plated baboon,” Zedd said. “We both share something…a hatred for the cursed Dragon Ranger. I want him destroyed, and I want you to do it for me.”

 

Goldar laughed. “Let me hear you beg.”

 

Zedd laughed and shook his head. “I don’t need to beg…I don’t even need to ask. I will give you the power to kill Tommy, and you will do so, because your hatred for him is the only thing keeping you alive.”

 

“I will crush him,” Goldar said after a brief moment of silence.

 

Zedd extended his staff and infused Goldar with energy.

 

***

 

Rocky slammed his locker shut as he looked at the sheet he had been given in his previous class. “I don’t believe it!”

 

“Problems Rocky?” Trini asked. The two had gone to the same school for three years but didn’t realize it until Rocky had met Trini on a Ranger-to-Ranger basis.

 

“You might say that,” Rocky said. “If you consider being paired with the queen of all things evil for your senior project.”

 

Trini raised an eyebrow.

 

“Her name’s Karen…she’s best friends with my ex...oh man, I’d rather go on a scavenger hunt with Trakeena.”

 

Trini rolled her eyes and smiled. “Well, have fun.”

 

Rocky banged his head against his locker.

 

***

 

After school, Tommy and Adam ran across a park trail that cut through the city. Adam took a break to catch a drink from a nearby fountain.

 

“Come on Adam…pick up the pace,” Tommy joked.

 

“I like you better when you’re depressed,” Adam said.

 

“Too nice a day for that,” Tommy said. “Come on…”

 

Explosions sparked around the two rangers and sent them tumbling backward. They rose to their feet and looked up as Goldar appeared in a flash of golden flame.

 

“It’s been a long time, Ranger!” Goldar shouted. He looked different. His body was more slender, he had an extra pair of sharp wings, and his armor had a slight blood-red tinge.

 

“I have a secret identity for a reason, Goldie-locks,” Tommy said as he snapped into a defensive stance. “I thought you’d be lying dead in a gutter by now.”

 

“Friend of yours?” Adam asked.

 

Tommy nodded.

 

“Yes,” Goldar growled. “Tommy and I go way back, don’t we? Just you, me…and precious Kyra in Bandora’s palace.”

 

Tommy clenched his jaw and armed his morphers. “Aura Power!” Tommy shouted as he transformed and dashed towards Goldar.

 

An army of wolfmen appeared and surrounded Adam before he could help.

 

***

 

Rocky was walking by a creek with Karen outside the city. They were reluctantly working on their senior project together after trying to persuade their teacher to give them new partners.

 

“Try to keep up, Rock-head,” she said.

 

“Most people stopped name calling in grade school,” he said.

 

“I’m not most people,” she said

 

“Right, right. Most people have a heart in their chest instead of a big pile of-”

 

“Knock it off,” she said. “I just want to get this over with.”

 

Rocky rolled his eyes.

 

***

 

Levina watched Rocky through her crystal ball. “Excellent…the blue one is far removed from the others.”

 

She had already tried to kill Tommy and Adam…Rocky was her next target. “This will be perfect,” she said.

 

***

 

Goldar swung his sword through a powerful horizontal arc. Dragon Ranger barely managed to parry the blow and stepped aside. The Red Ranger slammed a roundkick against the villain’s snout and smashed a spinning heel kick against the Titan warrior’s head.

 

Goldar snapped his wings and dashed at Dragon Ranger while slashing him across the chest, explosions sparking against armor. Goldar pounced forward and chopped his blade towards Dragon Ranger’s head.

 

Dragon Ranger parried the blow, slammed a roundkick against the simian’s chest, and brought the same leg around with a hook kick across the warrior’s head.

 

The Red Ranger was surprised at Goldar’s new-found strength and speed. “Did Zedd pump you up with steroids or something?”

 

“I see you’re impressed…as well you should be!”

 

Goldar fired eye beams that sparked against Dragon Ranger and sent him slamming backward through a tree, splintering its trunk. The simian then leapt high in the air using his wings, and he brought his sword towards the Ranger’s head while snapping back downward.

 

Dragon Ranger rolled out of the way and kicked Goldar back.

 

***

 

In the middle of the city, Shadow Ranger was watching a couple walk happily below him. He felt an aching inside of him. “What’s wrong with me?” he asked as he looked down at his hands. “I am…I’m the Shadow Ranger…the perfect warrior. I shouldn’t have these…these feelings!”

 

Then his head snapped around. “I sense…Goldar…Shannon…”

 

He disappeared in a blur of motion.

 

***

 

“Hey, Karen,” Rocky called as he held up a frog. “I found the perfect guy for you.”

 

“Your childish antics don’t amuse me.”

 

“Yeah yeah,” Rocky said.

 

An army of Wraiths suddenly appeared with flashes of black energy and surrounded the teens.

 

“Shit. Karen, run!” Rocky shouted.

 

“There’s nowhere to run to,” she shouted.

 

“Just great,” he said as he snapped into a fighting stance. “Stay behind me.”

 

“You idiot, you can’t fight these things!”

 

“Of course not,” Rocky said as he tornado kicked a soldier and slammed the back of his fist across another soldier’s head.

 

The Wraiths managed to keep Rocky and Karen from moving more than a few steps in any direction. A vortex of dark energy suddenly circled around them and teleported them away.

 

***

 

Dragon Ranger crashed to the ground. Goldar aimed his sword down at the fallen Ranger. “You’re as weak now as you’ve ever been.”

 

“I have more than enough strength to beat you, Goldar,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

Lion Ranger leapt through the air with his staff and brought it down towards Goldar’s head.

 

“Adam, no!” Dragon Ranger shouted.

 

Goldar grabbed the staff and grabbed Lion Ranger’s throat. “My, my…another Green Ranger.” He tossed Lion Ranger aside.

 

***

 

Rocky surveyed his surroundings. “I’m getting sick of these pocket dimensions…” he muttered to himself. They were in a small dark cave, imprisoned by a mystical forcefield.

 

“What were those things?” Karen asked as she sat as far against the wall as possible.

 

“The IRS…this is what happens when you try to cheat the government,” Rocky said.

 

“This isn’t the time for your stupid jokes,” Karen said.

 

“Alright alright,” he said. “It’s what I do when I’m in situations like this. It’s either crack jokes or piss my pants.”

 

Karen was silent as she rolled into the fetal position.

 

“Hey,” Rocky said. “We’re going to be all right…we’ll get out of this, then we can go back to making each others’ lives miserable.”

 

“How would you know? No one knows we’re here…who’s going to save us…the Power Rangers…Ha!”

 

“Why not?” Rocky asked.

 

“Because all they do is fight,” Karen said. “They weren’t there to save my mom…”

 

“I…” he shook his head. “What happened?”

 

“It was last year…that giant pin ball game thing and black dragon were stomping along like mad. The Power Rangers were too…my mom was at work when her building collapsed. They didn’t even try to save her…they never try to save anyone.”

 

“I…I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s not your fault,” Karen said.

 

Rocky nodded. “I know what it’s like to lose someone…my Dad died when I was a kid…car accident.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Karen said.

 

“Not your fault,” he said with a sheepish grin. She smiled.

 

A flash of light appeared on the other side of the shield encasing them. It was Levina. “Welcome to my little lair,” she said. “I hope you enjoy your stay.”

 

Rocky stood in front of Karen.

 

***

 

Kirin Ranger and Phoenix Ranger teleported in to help Lion Ranger with the wolfmen.

 

“Your friends can’t help you now!” Goldar screamed as he held Dragon Ranger by the throat. “I’m invincible!”

 

“You’re pathetic,” Dragon Ranger shouted as he hit Goldar in the snout.

 

Goldar released his grasp, and Dragon Ranger leapt forward. The Red Ranger slammed a jump sidekick against the villain’s chest, and while still off the ground, Dragon Ranger spun a hook kick across the simian’s face.

 

“Goldar!” another voice called from behind the two opponents. Goldar turned to see Shadow Ranger standing in a fighting stance. “It’s time I make you pay…”

 

Goldar wrinkled his snout with confusion. “What…”

 

“Shadow Strike!” A massive burst of black lightning shot forth from Shadow Ranger’s palms and exploded against the simian, sending the Titan warrior skidding backward.

 

Shadow Ranger dashed forward and threw himself at Goldar with a fierce volley of punches and kicks.

 

Dragon Ranger rose back to his feet as Lion Ranger, Kirin Ranger, and Phoenix Ranger regrouped around him. Their communicator’s sounded. “We read you Zordon,” Dragon Ranger answered.

 

“Rangers, Rocky and his…friend Karen have been kidnapped by Levina,” Zordon said.

 

“Oh man,” Dragon Ranger said. He looked to his teammates. “You guys head to the Command Chamber…I’ll handle Goldar with the Shadow Ranger…I guess.”

 

“Be careful,” Phoenix Ranger said.

 

“I will,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

***

 

“What do you want, witch?” Rocky asked.

 

“For everyone to stop calling me that!” she shouted as she extended her hand. A pulse of energy struck Rocky against the chest and slammed him against the wall.

 

“Rocky,” Karen said.

 

“I’m fine, I’m fine…just a bruised rib or two.”

 

Levina laughed. “And now-”

 

A blur of motion dropped from the ceiling and kicked her. It was Vex.

 

Rocky wrinkled his brow with confusion. “Not exactly who I expected to come to the rescue, but he’ll do.”

 

“What are you doing you silent fool!” Levina shouted.

 

Vex swung his sword at her.

 

“Stand back, Karen,” Rocky said.

 

“Why…”

 

“Because we’re getting out of here,” he said as he slammed his fist to the ground and emitted a gravity shockwave that knocked the forcefield away.

 

“How did you…” she said.

 

“Old martial arts technique,” he said. “Let’s go.”

 

***

 

“I found him,” Billy said.

 

“Where?” Adam asked.

 

Ayi-yi-yi! It’s another pocket dimension!” Alpha said.

 

Billy nodded. “Right…we’ll teleport to its opening.”

 

“Be careful, Rangers,” Zordon said. “Remember that Rocky has a civilian with him.”

 

“Not to mention we’re a little short handed,” Adam said. “Let’s go.”

 

***

 

A sick feeling crept into Dragon Ranger’s stomach as he watched Shadow Ranger fight. It was like watching himself, and not just when he was the evil Green Ranger. Am I really that evil?

 

“I will defeat you Goldar! And this time I’ll finish you off!” Shadow Ranger shouted.

 

Goldar fell back and teleported away after saying. “Another time, Rangers!”

 

Dragon Ranger walked over to Shadow Ranger. “Why did you…”

 

“I wasn’t helping you…I was fighting Goldar…he’ll pay for what he did. I swear I’ll make him pay.”

 

Dragon Ranger felt as if he was listening to an echo of his own thoughts.

 

Hmph,” Shadow Ranger said. “You look surprised. I may be nothing but energy, but you forget…I am you. Only I don’t have the weakness of a heart.”

 

“Then why did you save that couple the other day?” Dragon Ranger asked.

 

“I…” Shadow Ranger shoved Dragon Ranger away and disappeared in a blur of motion.

 

***

 

Shadow Ranger leaned against an elevator shaft on top of a building. “Do I have…a heart?” he said quietly. He shook his head.

 

Shadow Ranger then found himself surrounded by a white light. “You!” Shadow Ranger shouted.

 

“Hello Shadow Ranger,” the Dark Man said. “It is an honor to meet you face to face.”

 

“What have you brought me here for? Answer me, or I swear I’ll rip out your throat!”

 

“I have brought you here to try and help you. Your mind is full of questions. You’re experiencing sensations that are foreign to you…I can help you understand.”

 

“In return for what?”

 

“Nothing,” the Dark Man said. “I simply wish to share with you your destiny.”

 

“My destiny? What are you talking about?”

 

“Together, you and Tommy will be invincible. No force will stand in your way.”

 

“He’d never join the forces of evil,” Shadow Ranger said.

 

“I didn’t say he would,” the Dark Man said.

 

Shadow Ranger returned to normal. “What the….what was that about?”

 

***

 

Dragon Ranger ran to the cave of the pocket dimension to join his friends in helping Rocky. He was shot in the back with an energy blast that sent him toppling forward. Dragon Ranger rose to his feet and turned to face Goldar.

 

“Did you really think I’d just let you leave…it’s you I want Tommy! Not some carbon copy!”

 

“Then bring it on, wing brain!”

 

***

 

Vex and Levina were exchanging energy blows as Rocky grabbed Karen’s hand and led her through the tunnel.

 

“Pick up the pace!” Rocky shouted.

 

“I’m going as fast as I can,” she said.

 

The battle was knocking rubble down from the cavern ceiling. Rocky feared it would collapse any moment.

 

Then a group of Wraiths appeared and stood in front of Rocky and Karen. “Damn,” Rocky said.

 

Levina held her staff as Vex readied another blow. “As much fun as this is…I must be going…tell Zedd he can go back to hell.”

 

Levina disappeared, and Vex’s blast hit the cavern top, causing a cave in. The ground below Rocky and Karen split as they tumbled through the opening below.

 

***

 

Zedd blasted Vex with an electric bolt. “I told you to bring me the heads of those who have betrayed me…you have failed! Master assassin, ha!”

 

Zedd turned towards Earth and gazed down. “Hmmm…Tenma Ranger has been separated from the others…he’s trapped in the lower levels of Levina’s pocket dimension.”

 

Zedd laughed and aimed his staff down towards Earth, firing a stream of energy. “Fire Ant, arise!”

 

Within the caverns of Levina’s maze, Zedd’s bolt struck an ordinary ant and transformed it into an armored, insectoid monster.

 

“Draklith!” Zedd shouted. “Take a group of wolfmen and keep the other Rangers away from that hag’s pocket dimension.”

 

“It will be done, Master,” Draklith said as he disappeared.

 

“Vex…continue your hunt for Levina, Finster, and Trakeena. Do not return to me until they have been killed.”

 

Vex nodded and transported away in a blur of motion.

 

***

 

“Are you okay?” Rocky asked as he helped Karen to her feet.

 

“I was kidnapped by a bunch of shadows, held in a prison cave, and blasted through the ground. What do you think?”

 

“I think you’re tough enough to take it,” Rocky said.

 

The cavern started to rumble.

 

“There’s something down here,” Rocky said.

 

“Do I want to know?” Karen asked.

 

Rocky shook his head. “Probably not. Let’s go…there’s gotta be a way back to the surface.”

 

***

 

“There’s the cave!” Kirin Ranger said.

 

“Let’s go,” Lion Ranger said as he led his two teammates towards the pocket dimension.

 

Draklith suddenly appeared in front of the Rangers with a group of wolfmen. The villain pointed his sword towards the Rangers. “We meet again, Rangers,” Draklith said. “This battle will be our last.”

 

“Out of our way!” Lion Ranger shouted as he readied his Lion Staff.

 

Draklith laughed mockingly at the Rangers and aimed his sword forward. “Attack!”

 

The wolfmen charged forward to attack.

 

Lion Ranger bashed the end of his staff across a wolf’s snout. He spun the staff around and smashed the head of a second wolf that was trying to pounce forward and bite him.

 

Kirin Ranger armed his Thunder Sword. He swung the blade upward, tearing through the chest of a wolf with a burst of spark. Two more of the wolves charged at the Yellow Ranger. Kirin Ranger spun forward while keeping low and bashed the end of his saber against a wolf’s chest. Kirin Ranger rose to full height and decapitated the other wolf.

 

Phoenix Ranger charged towards Draklith with her Thunder Staff. Draklith blocked her first swing and parried her second. “A mere girl dares to challenge me?” Draklith said.

 

“This girl has beaten better than you before,” she said as she swung her staff, bashing Draklith across the face.

 

***

 

Rocky was knocked off of his feet from another tremor. “I need another vacation.”

 

Rocky slowly rose to his feet and looked up to see Zedd’s Fire Ant monster. “You’re not going anywhere,” it said in a high-pitched, insectoid voice.

 

“Karen, head down that tunnel, I’ll catch up with you,” he said.

 

“But…”

 

“Go!”

 

She hesitated for a moment, then ran.

 

Rocky waited until she was out of sight to arm his morphers. “Aura Power!” Energy shimmered around him as he morphed into his Ranger form. He snapped into a fighting stance.

 

“Tenma Ranger! Heaven Gravity Star! Blue!”

 

“I know who you are,” the ant said as it blasted the Ranger with fire.

 

***

 

Goldar rose back to his feet and charged towards Kyra. “Now it’s your turn!” He grabbed her by the arm and whipped her around, holding her back to his chest while he pressed his sword to her neck.

 

She screamed, and the Green Dragon Ranger froze with rage and terror.

 

The years ahead for Tommy bore many challenges, villains such as Zedd, the Machines, Sauron, and countless others. But no matter who his opponent, no matter what the cause, the memory of the next few moments would be burned in his mind forever.

 

“Don’t you dare, Goldar!” Dragon Ranger shouted.

 

“This time I’ll do it right,” Goldar snarled. “This time I want you to remember that her death is all your fault!”

 

He slit her throat.

 

“No!!!” Dragon Ranger rushed forward.

 

Goldar stepped back shimmered away. Kyra continued to drop. Dragon Ranger caught her before she hit the ground. “Shannon…”

 

He shook his head, cradling her body as he rocked back and forth. “Not again….” He looked up into the sky and shouted at the top of his lungs. “Not agaaaaain!”

 

Dragon Ranger swung his Thunder Sword down hard towards Goldar’s head. Goldar blocked the blow, blades sparking on impact. The Red Ranger used his other hand and unsheathed his Star Cutter while slashing the weapon across Goldar’s chest with a burst of spark.

 

Dragon Ranger spun forward with a reverse sidekick that slammed against Goldar’s chest, knocking the simian to the ground. Dragon Ranger held his sword down towards the simian’s neck. “I should kill you, Goldar…I should make you suffer for all the pain you’ve caused…but I won’t,” he said.

 

“Just kill me and spare me the melodrama,” Goldar said.

 

“Run away, Goldar,” Dragon Ranger said as he lowered his sword. “It’s what you’re good at.”

 

Dragon Ranger started to walk away. Goldar suddenly sprang to his feet and rushed towards the Ranger’s back. Dragon Ranger whirled around and thrust his sword through the simian’s chest and puncturing out his back.

 

“Say hello to Scorpina for me,” Dragon Ranger said as he pulled his sword out. Goldar hissed his last breath before collapsing.

 

***

 

Tenma Ranger rushed in, but he was batted away by the monster’s arms and hit with an antenna fire-stream blast. Tenma Ranger slowly rose into a crouched fighting stance. I can’t risk a gravity pulse…I could bring this whole place down…

 

The ant walked towards him. “When I’m through with you…I’ll go after your little friend.”

 

“The hell you will!” Tenma Ranger shouted as he pounced forward.

 

The ant punched Tenma Ranger in the gut several times. But then someone hit the head of the ant with a stone. It was Karen.

 

“Leave him alone!” she shouted as she hit the creature repeatedly.

 

The ant grabbed her by the throat and held her to his chest, using her as a shield between him and the Ranger. “Power Down, or I’ll barbeque your little friend here.”

 

Rocky powered down his armor. He narrowed his eyes at the villain.

 

“Now toss away your transformation tools,” the ant said.

 

“They’re called morphers,” Rocky said as he did so. Mor-phers.”

 

The ant laughed. Karen reached up and pulled the ant’s antenna as hard as she could. The ant screamed and released his grip on her. She pushed away from the monster as Rocky leapt forward with a screw kick that slammed the monster backward.

 

He picked up his morphers and grabbed Karen’s hand. “Let’s get out of here.”

 

They ran as fast as they could, until the cavern started to tremble again because of the Fire Ant. “Looks like our friend is a little pissed,” Rocky said.

 

Karen said nothing.

 

The Fire Ant suddenly erupted from the ground in front of them. Rocky pounced forward and snapped a tornado kick towards the villain while shouting. “Tenma Flash Kick!”

 

The monster grabbed the ranger’s leg and tossed him aside. The villain laughed as he slowly stalked towards Karen.

 

“Burn Knuckle!” Dragon Ranger pounced forward from the shadows and slammed a fiery punch against the monster, knocking the Fire Ant backward. The Red Ranger moved over towards Karen and helped her to her feet. “You okay?”

 

She nodded.

 

“I’m fine too, thanks,” Rocky said. “She knows.”

 

Dragon Ranger looked to Karen. She shook her head and ran.

 

Karen emerged from the cavern as Rocky followed her. “Karen wait…look,” he grabbed her arm. “I’m sorry this happened to you, sorry you got caught up in this, sorry for not telling you, and sorry for what happened to your mother.”

 

She stared at him silently.

 

“Believe it or not…we do this to help people. None of us really like it…but it’s something we have to do.”

 

She was quiet.

 

He sighed. “If we did nothing, this whole planet would have fallen more than two years ago. We know we can’t save everyone…the names of people that have died in these attacks are etched into our minds, but it’s the people we do save that keep us going. It’s the people we do help.”

 

“Rocky…”

 

“I know you didn’t like me before…and this probably makes things worse…but just try to understand, ya know? I just-”

 

She grabbed him by the back of the head and pulled him forward, kissing him full on the mouth.

 

Rocky was left in a daze. “Ummm...what…whoa…”

 

“I’m sorry...I probably shouldn’t have-”

 

He pulled her close again and kissed her. They pulled back and smiled at each other. Rocky breathed a sigh of relief. “What a pleasant, yet unexpected turn of events,” Rocky said.

 

“Rocky, anytime!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he was blasted back by a blast of fire from the ant creature. Sparks exploded against the Ranger’s armor upon impact.

 

Rocky looked to Karen. “I gotta go to work.”

 

“Be careful,” she said.

 

Rocky armed his morphers and charged towards the Fire Ant. “Aura Power!” Energy shimmered around him as he connected his wrist braces and morphed into his Ranger form.

 

Dragon Ranger rose to his feet and extended his arms. Tenma Ranger leapt off the Red Ranger’s shoulders and leapt towards the monster. The Blue Ranger armed his Star Blade and arced downward towards the monster.

 

“Star Blade! Lightning Strike!” Tenma Ranger shouted as he swung the energized blade downward. The blade slashed across the monster with a burst of spark, knocking the creature backward.

 

Dragon Ranger armed his Thunder Sword and Star Cutter and moved in towards the monster. “Heaven Fire Star! Lightning Flames of Destruction!”

 

Dragon Ranger thrust the blades forward, producing a stream of fiery energy that crackled with lightning. The blast tore through the creature with a massive explosion.

 

One of Zedd’s energy bolts from above struck the fallen monster. The energy bolt revived the monster, causing the creature to grow giant.

 

Nearby, the other Rangers looked up to see the monster grow giant. Draklith took advantage of their distraction and slashed the three Rangers across their chests, his blade sparking against their armor on impact.

 

Dragon Ranger and Tenma Ranger raised their Thunder Swords towards the air while grasping their Thunder Gems. “Thunderzords, arise!”

 

The two armored beasts streaked down from the skies in beams of light. They took shape, resembling giant animals covered in armor. The Red Dragon and winged Tenma flew through the air above.

 

The Rangers energized and leapt into their cockpits, embedded within the zords’ armor. Tenma Ranger placed his hand over his zord’s control sphere. “Looks like it’s just you and me, Tommy.”

 

“Let’s exterminate this creep,” Dragon Ranger said as he placed his hand over his zord‘s control sphere. “Fire Stream!”

 

Red Dragon opened his jaw, breathing a massive torrent of flame that tore through the air towards the monster.

 

“Gravity Thrower!” The Tenma used its wings to levitate huge chunks of rubble and hurl them at the monster.

 

The combined attacks slammed against the monster, knocking the villain of its feet and sending it skidding across the ground.

 

Below, the other three Rangers leapt one-by-one towards Draklith. Phoenix Ranger slashed her sword downward across the villain’s armor. Kirin Ranger chopped his Star Blade across the villain’s head. And Lion Ranger slashed his Star Cutter across the villain’s chest with a burst of spark that knocked Draklith backward.

 

Draklith slowly rose to his feet. His hand clutched his injured chest as he stepped backward and teleported away with a burst of crimson light.

 

Phoenix Ranger looked up to see the Blue Tenma and Red Dragon battle Zedd’s Fire Ant monster. “We have to help them.”

 

The three Rangers raised their Thunder Swords towards the air while grasping their Thunder Gems. “Thunderzords, arise!”

 

The three armored beasts streaked down from the skies in beams of light. They took shape, resembling giant animals covered in armor. The Kirin and Lion landed on the ground and charged forward. The Phoenix flew through the air above.

 

The Rangers energized and leapt into their cockpits, embedded within the zords’ armor. Dragon Ranger placed his hand over his zord’s control sphere. “Thunder-star fusion!”

 

The five zords pulsed with energy and combined. The Kirin and Tenma formed the arms, the dragon formed the body, with the Red Dragon head on the Megazord’s chest. The Lion formed the lower body and legs, and the Phoenix attached to the back of the Megazord as its wings extended outward and grew razor sharp. Red armor flashed and covered most of the zord.

 

The Rangers joined in the cockpit. “MegaThunderzord! ChoiDairenou!”

 

The MegaThunderzord spread its wings and hovered above the ground. The Megazord snapped its wings and shot towards the creature. The Megazord somersaulted forward through midair and slammed a double kick against the monster, knocking the Fire Ant backward.

 

“Thunder Whip!” the Rangers shouted. The MegaThunderzord armed a segmented, razor whip that formed from the Red Dragon’s tail. “Lightning Slash!”

 

The Thunder Whip flashed with yellow energy. MegaThunderzord swung the whip downward diagonally. The energized whip slashed through the monster, cutting the creature in half. The monster tumbled backward, its energy overloading and exploding. The villain’s body was vaporized from the explosion.

 

***

 

Rocky and Karen sat at the park in uncomfortable silence.

 

“So…” he said.

 

“So…” she said.

 

Rocky sighed. “I’m a little confused.”

 

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” she said with a smile.

 

He grinned. “I mean, before today…I thought you hated me.”

 

She shrugged. “I didn’t hate you…I was just jealous.”

 

“Jealous? Why?”

 

“Good question. No really…seeing you and Jenn together. I was envious of the relationship you two had.”

 

Rocky shrugged. “It wasn’t anything serious.”

 

“I know, but it’s more than I’ve ever had. And the way you ran out on her…I understand now, but then…I thought you were just taking her for granted. That upset me. It hurt me too. I used to have a crush on you, but when you treated Jenn that way, well, it shattered my vision that you were a regular prince charming. A knight in shining armor.”

 

Rocky smiled. “I do have a horse.”

 

Karen smiled. “I know. You’re exactly the way I thought you were when I first met you, before I ‘hated’ you. Courageous, self sacrificing, sweet…”

 

He held her hand. “And I’m not going to take you for granted.”

 

“Oh really?” she said with a smile.

 

“Yeah,” he said. He pulled her close and kissed her.

 

***

 

Tommy sat at Bear Lake. Kimberly slowly walked towards him from behind and took a seat next to him. “Tommy…I heard about Goldar.”

 

“He’s gone now,” Tommy said simply.

 

Kimberly nodded. “It still hurts, doesn’t it?”

 

He nodded. “Every day…it’s not that I don’t love you, I do, it’s just…I should have been able to save her.”

 

“You can’t save everyone,” Kimberly said.

 

Tommy nodded.

 

“What else?”

 

He shook his head.

 

“Tommy…”

 

He sighed. “When I watched the Shadow Ranger fight, it was like watching myself. He’s pure evil…what does that make me if I’m so much like him?”

 

“Tommy, you’ve proven time and again that you’re not evil,” Kimberly said.

 

“I just…I’ve tried so hard to fight that part of me off…put a wall up in front of my darkest emotions. Seeing those emotions personified.” He shook his head.

 

“I know,” she said.

 

“What do you say we get out of here?” Tommy asked. “I’ll buy you dinner.”

 

“You’re broke,” she said with grin.

 

“Rocky owes me some money…poker game,” he said.

 

She smiled. “Let’s go then.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 08