Shadows of Evil: Chapter Thirteen

Shadow's Sacrifice

 

“MegaThunderzord, armor up!” The five Rangers shouted as their Megazord crackled with energy and transformed into a suit of silver-and-gold armor. “MegaThunderzord, Paladin mode!”

 

The MegaThunderzord flew over the city towards the latest of Zedd’s creations. It resembled a giant stag beetle with huge pinchers and claws. The Megazord zigged back and forth as it dodged the creature’s energy blasts.

 

“Star Saber, Dive Justice!” the Rangers shouted as the Star Saber energized and slashed through the creature, causing it to explode.

 

The MegaThunderzord landed on the streets and stood in a defensive position.

 

“Keep your eyes open,” Dragon Ranger said. “That other one’s still around here somewhere.”

 

Zedd’s attack was followed by one of Trakeena’s, and the Rangers lured the two monsters together so they could stand united against the threats.

 

A shark-type creature tore through the city streets, springing up through the ground as it tackled the Megazord from behind. The Megazord strained as it struggled to break free from the monster’s grasp.

 

“He’s too strong,” Phoenix Ranger said.

 

“Power up the wings,” Kirin Ranger said.

 

The wings of the MegaThunderzord flashed with energy as they spread and knocked the monster through a nearby building.

 

“Star Saber, Divine Justice!” the Rangers shouted as the MegaThunderzord turned and slashed its energized saber through the villain.

 

The shark creature fell backward and exploded.

 

***

 

Zedd slammed his fist against his balcony as his visor started to glow red with rage. “I grow tired of this game,” the warlord said as his warrior Draklith kneeled behind him. “Perhaps it’s time I devised a more aggressive plan.”

 

“What sort of plan, sire?” Draklith dared to ask.

 

“Simpleton,” Zedd spat. “The fabric of reality around Angel Grove is still weakened as a result of the Dynasty. I will exploit this weakness. I’m done playing games. It’s time I tore this city apart.”

 

***

 

Tommy and his family were moving into their new house, the old one having been destroyed by the Shadow Ranger.

 

Boxes and bags surrounded Tommy in his new room as Rocky helped with the unpacking.

 

“Where’d all this stuff come from?” Rocky asked.

 

“After the fire, we did quite a lot of shopping,” Tommy said. “The grandparents, uncles, and such gave us some of their pictures too, so we could personalize this place.”

 

“That was cool of them,” Rocky said. “Was Simon’s family sad to see you go?”

 

Tommy grinned. “Their family's bigger than yours, pal. They probably never even noticed we were there.”

 

Rocky grinned and nodded. He noticed an old dance picture of Tommy and a girl he didn’t recognize.

 

“Is this Shannon?” Rocky asked as he held the picture up.

 

Tommy nodded. “Yeah. That was from a dance freshman year. Her first dance. Her mom made the dress for her.”

 

“Does it still…I mean…”

 

“Yeah,” Tommy said. “It still hurts. Not as bad, but it hurts.”

 

Rocky nodded. “It still hurts me too. Karen that is…but…it’s getting easier…which actually makes it worse…I’m not making any sense.”

 

Tommy nodded as he took a seat on one of the boxes. “You are making sense, Rocky. I remember when I started to move on, started to deal with what happened, I felt guilty. Guilty for moving on.”

 

Rocky nodded as he stared blankly into the distance. “Yeah…”

 

“It only gets easier as you grow to accept it,” Tommy said. “It doesn’t mean you care about her any less.”

 

Rocky nodded. “I guess so…of course the fact that there’s some demon out there using her body isn’t helping.”

 

“Just remember, man…it’s not her, okay? That’s just a shell now,” Tommy said.

 

“A shell we need to get rid of,” Rocky said with a stone-cold expression on his face.

 

“We will,” Tommy said. “We will…”

 

***

 

Zedd extended his staff down towards the Earth as a stream of energy poured forth. In the center of Angel Grove, a tall, spiral pillar appeared that towered over the highest skyscraper.

 

The pillar started to turn as space rippled outward, distorting everything as the ripples continued to expand.

 

***

 

Alarms blared in the Command Chamber as Tommy and Rocky teleported in.

 

“What is it, Zordon?” Tommy asked.

 

“Observe the Viewing Globe,” Zordon instructed as the teens turned to the globe. An image of the pillar appeared. “This spire was created by Zedd and designed to disrupt the already weakened fabric of reality. The disruption field has already encompassed most of Angel Grove Central, and it is continuing to expand.”

 

“Where are the others?” Tommy asked with concern.

 

“I am afraid they are trapped within the disturbance,” Zordon said.

 

“Trapped?” Rocky said.

 

“How do we get them out?” Tommy asked.

 

“By traveling through the disturbance and destroying the spire,” Zordon said.

 

“Ay-yi-yi,” Alpha muttered as he shook his head.

 

“Reassuring, Alpha,” Rocky said sarcastically.

 

“So how will that work?” Tommy asked. “Will it be similar to what we went through with Strange and the Technomancers?”

 

“It will not be quite that simple,” Zordon said. “You will have to travel through the anomaly itself. Only the armor of Inferno can provide adequate protection against its power.”

 

Tommy shook his head. “If I call on the Inferno, the others will be helpless. I’d zap the energy right out of them.”

 

“If we do not call on the Inferno,” Zordon said. “The distortion wave produced by the spire will destroy them, and eventually the entire planet.”

 

Tommy sighed. He hated using the energy of the Inferno. It felt dark and fueled by rage.

 

“I understand your concerns with the Inferno armor, Tommy, but it is the only way,” Zordon said.

 

“Alright,” Tommy said. “Alright…”

 

***

 

Tommy stood on the roof a skyscraper looking out in the direction of Angel Grove Central. A large dome filled with distortion energy was slowly covering everything.

 

“Aura Power!” he shouted as he transformed. “Armor up!” His Wildfire armor materialized as he took a deep breath. “Here goes nothing…Armor of Inferno!”

 

Swirls of blue, green, yellow, and pink energy shot towards him and swirled around his body as he was lifted into the air, his armor turning white as he donned the Inferno.

 

Inferno shot towards the distortion in a white-hot comet. He crashed through the edge of the wave and found himself fighting against a stream of incoming energy. It felt like he was being blown backwards by a tornado as lines of blue and white energy shot past him.

 

Can barely move…he thought as he struggled against the energy wave. He could feel his armor tighten around his body.

 

Inferno noticed chunks of debris being carried towards him, caught in the energy river’s tow, and he thought he could use the debris to his advantage.

 

He hopped from slab of debris to slab of debris, slowly moving against the current and closer to the center of the disturbance.

 

***

 

Zedd watched from his balcony as Tommy entered the anomaly’s current. He slammed his fist against the railing. “Blast that cursed child!”

 

“Surely he can not survive in the distortion wave, my lord. He will be crushed,” Draklith said.

 

Zedd turned and fired an optic blast that crashed against Draklith’s gut. “Have you not yet learned that your opinion means absolutely nothing. You are to sit and say nothing until I need you. You are my tool, not my commentator!”

 

***

 

Inferno continued leaping across debris as he slowly made his way closer to the source of the disturbance.

 

This is getting a little easier, he thought to himself as he hopped over an incoming chunk of concrete and landed on another slab of debris for a split second before pushing off.

 

Inferno flipped towards his next stepping stone, but he was blasted across the chest by a crimson energy pulse. The pulse knocked him backward, allowing the rift to drag the Ranger even further behind.

 

Inferno saw through his visor as one of Zedd’s creations landed on a hunk of debris and pushed off, using the current to propel himself back towards the ranger.

 

The monster resembled an armored Egyptian Sphinx and carried a long bladed staff. “You’ve traveled far enough!” he howled as he swooped forward on his wings.

 

“I don’t recall asking, wing-brain,” Inferno said as he drew his twin, curved blades.

 

Inferno stood on a chunk of debris being dragged backward by the current as the Sphinx leapt towards him and swung his staff vertically towards the Ranger’s head.

 

Inferno held his blades out in an ‘x’ pattern to block the blow, then reverse sidekicked the beast backward.

 

The Ranger started jumping against the stream again to reach the center of the anomaly. The Sphinx was hot on his tail, jumping along a course parallel to Inferno’s.

 

***

 

The Shadow Ranger stood on a rooftop outside of the distortion wave and looked into the chaotic swarm of energy spread across the city. He felt a calling from inside. A calling he had to answer.

 

Shadow Ranger flipped from the rooftop and dove into the anomaly.

 

***

 

Azrael stood on the streets of Angel Grove along with her four Dark Riders. She smiled to herself wickedly as she watched the distortion wave off in the distance.

 

“Three Rangers trapped in the wave, one trying to get through…that just leaves my dear Rocky,” she said to herself.

 

She turned to her Dark Riders. “Travel to the center of the wave. If the distortion doesn’t kill the Rangers, you will.”

 

The Riders nodded before turning and running towards the anomaly.

 

Azrael turned towards the city and fired a bolt of black flame at the nearest skyscraper. “That ought to get his attention…”

 

***

 

Alarms in the Command Chamber started to blare.

 

“Perfect timing as always,” Rocky said as he turned to face the Viewing Globe.

 

“I am afraid it is Azrael,” Zordon said. “She has sent her Dark Riders into the distortion wave and is apparently trying to lure you out into the open.”

 

Rocky wrinkled his brow as he rolled his hands up into fists.

 

“Remember Rocky,” Zordon said. “The body is just a shell.”

 

Rocky nodded. “Azrael’s shell is about to get cracked, Zordon.”

 

***

 

Inferno leapt to the next step of debris while throwing his sabers at the Sphinx like boomerangs.

 

The two blades spun towards the monster at lightning speeds, but the Sphinx knocked the swords away and fired a crimson energy lance with his staff.

 

Inferno leapt from the debris just as the lance demolished it to pieces.

 

“Would it kill you to stand still!” The Sphinx shouted as he fired another energy blast.

 

“Probably,” Inferno said as his blades returned to his hands, and he used them to deflect the energy bolt.

 

***

 

Azrael walked down the city street as she fired blasts of black fire in every direction.

 

“Hold it right there, witch!” Rocky shouted as he ran up behind her and assumed a defensive stance.

 

Azrael turned and looked at Rocky as she smiled and licked her lips. “Hello, lover…”

 

“A demon like you isn’t capable of love,” Rocky said as he readied his Aura Morphers. “Chakra ignite, Aura Power!”

 

He connected his braces as blue light flashed around him and he morphed into his standard Ranger armor.

 

“Has anyone told you that blue is just not your color,” Azrael said with a sick and twisted grin as she extended her hand and fired a salvo of black lightning spheres at the Ranger.

 

“You’re the last person I need fashion tips from,” Tenma Ranger said as he flipped and dodged his way through the salvo.

 

Tenma Ranger leapt towards Azrael as he called for his ringed “Star Blade!” He swung the weapon towards Azrael’s head.

 

Azrael blocked the blow, then spun while slamming a knifehand strike against Tenma Ranger’s throat. She stepped in and slammed a sidekick against his chest and another blow against his faceplate.

 

Tenma Ranger was forced a few steps back as Azrael drew a pair of longknives from her back. “I hope for poor Karen’s sake you weren’t this bad in bed…”

 

“Now that was just low,” Tenma Ranger said as he armed his Thunder Staff and moved in. He swung at her from every direction possible, but Azrael managed to handle her daggers well enough to parry and block each blow.

 

***

 

Inferno let the distortion wave propel him as he launched a flying sidekick that slammed the Sphinx from a large hulk of debris.

 

The Sphinx used his wings to glide along the wave and land safely on another chunk of concrete. “You’re losing your gain, Ranger!”

 

“Thanks for the concern,” Inferno said as he energized his sabers and placed them together. “It’s time I got back on track…Rage of Inferno!”

 

The Ranger fired a massive white-hot energy blast that slammed against the Sphinx, causing the monster to be caught up in the distortion wave and swept away. The blast also gave Inferno extra propulsion and pushed him against the wave as he came closer to the center of the disturbance.

 

***

 

Tenma Ranger managed to gain the upper hand and slam the end of his staff across Azrael’s face. Her body was whipped around as she fell to the ground.

 

Tenma Ranger started to swing his staff towards Azrael’s head to finish her off, but a look of fear spread across her face as she held up her hand. “Rocky, please! It’s me!”

 

He hesitated, giving Azrael the perfect opportunity to pounce and strike him across the chest with her longknives. “Sucker.”

 

***

 

Inferno opened his eyes wide with shock as he emerged into the center of the disturbance. The spire thrummed with power as it slowly spun like a large drill cutting into the earth beneath it. The hurricane of power storming and twirling around the spire made Inferno feel like he was hovering inside the eye of a storm.

 

“Here goes nothing,” Inferno said as he energized his swords.

 

Before the Ranger could strike, a dark figure slammed into him. It was the Black Dark Rider. The Rider’s companions had perished in the distortion wave.

 

“You again,” Inferno said as he spun around, swinging his blades horizontally across the Rider’s chest. “Didn’t you learn the last time?”

 

The Dark Rider formed a sphere of dark energy between his hands. He launched the sphere at Inferno, but the Ranger dodged around the blast as he glided towards the Rider and swung his blades through the villain in an ‘x’ pattern. The Rider exploded, but his blast struck the spire, tilting it as it moaned with resistance.

 

The spire started to distort as a rip opened in the fabric of time and space, splitting the structure in two.

 

“This does not look good,” Inferno said.

 

“It doesn’t,” a voice said as it entered the eye of the distortion storm. It was the Shadow Ranger.

 

“Now is not the…”

 

“Save it,” Shadow Ranger said. “I know why I was brought into this world now. Don’t you see?”

 

“What are you talking about?” Inferno asked as the tear widened, creating a thunderclap that pushed the two Rangers backward.

 

“That tear is seconds away from starting a chain reaction that will destroy everything. You don’t have the power to stop it alone,” Shadow Ranger said. “But if we combine, if you take my being inside yours, we can have the power to stop the rift.”

 

“No way!” Inferno said. “No way I’m bonding with you!”

 

The rip widened further, causing a shock wave that nearly blasted the two Rangers back into the distortion wave.

 

“Listen, you fool!” Shadow Ranger shouted. “I’m a part of you whether you like it or not! I see it now, don’t you? You can’t spend your whole life fighting against your dark side.”

 

“Now’s not the time for a lecture,” Inferno shouted as he streaked towards the rip in a comet of white fire.

 

“What are you doing?” Shadow Ranger shouted as he followed in a comet of black fire. “You’ll get us both killed!”

 

Energy danced across the Rangers’ armor, causing small explosions, as they closed in on the tear.

 

“I am not bonding with you,” Inferno said.

 

“Listen,” Shadow Ranger said. “Courage is not absence of fear, anger, and rage. It’s mastery of it. Everyone has a dark side. Quit looking at things in black and white.”

 

The tear widened, and the two Rangers were almost blasted back.

 

“If you keep fighting against me, you’ll destroy yourself!” Shadow Ranger shouted as the energy pouring from the tear intensified.

 

Inferno closed his eyes beneath his helmet and took in a deep breath. “Fine…”

 

The Shadow Ranger crossed his arms over his chest as his body shattered. His black energy left his body and entered Tommy through the chest. He felt the power of the Shadow Ranger course through his veins as he streaked towards the middle of the tear.

 

“Rage of Inferno!” he shouted as he caused a massive explosion of black-and-white flames at the center of the tear. The blast caused the tear to collapse on itself, while simultaneously pulling back the rift and destroying the spire. In a flash of white light, the streets returned to normal, and Inferno fell to the ground. He returned to his Dragon Ranger form due to exhaustion from the massive energy blast.

 

***

 

“Blast,” Azrael said as she noticed the distortion wave pull back and vanish. She looked to Tenma Ranger. “We’ll finish this another time.”

 

Tenma Ranger watched as Azrael retreated to the rooftops. “Count on it…”

 

***

 

The Rangers all regrouped and helped Dragon Ranger to his feet.

 

“You guys okay?” Dragon Ranger asked his team while trying to catch his breath.

 

Lion Ranger nodded. “Billy’s a little weak, but we’re alright.”

 

“I used my power to erect a protective field around us,” Kirin Ranger said. “It took a lot out of me.”

 

A giant foot slammed onto the concrete, nearly knocking the Rangers off their feet. They looked up to see the Sphinx in giant form.

 

“Not him again,” Dragon Ranger mumbled as the Rangers held their Thunder Gems and extended their Thunder Swords into the air.

 

“Thunderzords, arise!” The five armored beasts streaked down from the skies in beams of light.

 

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 Sphinx snarled at the Megazord as it tossed its wings open, firing a volley of energy darts that slammed into the MegaThunderzord, sending it crashing through a building.

 

The MegaThunderzord used its wings to get back on its feet and thrust towards the monster.

 

“Kirin Flares!” the Rangers shouted as the Megazord used its Kirin arm to fire a volley of energy bolts towards the Sphinx. Zedd’s monster deflected each blast with his staff.

 

“Time to take it up a notch,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

“MegaThunderzord, armor up!” the Rangers shouted as their Megazord crackled with cyan energy and transformed into a suit of silver armor with gold trimming. “MegaThunderzord, Paladin mode!”

 

The MegaThunderzord swooped straight at its opponent on its wings while energizing its saber.

 

“Star Saber, Divine Justice!” the Rangers shouted as the energized blade swung horizontally.

 

The Sphinx blocked the blow with his staff, causing a shock wave that tore the city block to shreds and tossed the Megazord backward. The Paladin armor was forced to power down as the MegaThunderzord assumed its normal form.

 

“What is this guy on?” Tenma Ranger shouted from within the cockpit.

 

Dragon Ranger felt a storm of energy whirl inside of him. He held out his hand, and a small black gem appeared. It was the Thunder Gem of the Shadow Dragon.

 

“Backup is on its way,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

“How…” Lion Ranger started to ask.

 

“I’ll explain later,” Dragon Ranger said. “Shadow Dragon, arise!”

 

The large, medieval-style black dragon of the Shadow Ranger swooped down from the skies towards the Sphinx.

 

“Shadow Dragon, rise up!” Dragon Ranger shouted.

 

The black zord transformed into its humanoid warrior mode.

 

The Sphinx fired optic blasts that crashed against the newest zord’s chest plating and sent it crashing to the ground.

 

“Rangers,” Zordon said through their communicators. “Link the power of all six gems together, and you will be able to merge your Megazord with the Shadow Dragon.”

 

“Sounds like a plan,” Dragon Ranger said as their gems started to flash with energy.

 

“MegaThunderzord…” the Rangers shouted as their Megazord crackled with crimson energy.

 

“Shadow Dragonzord…” they shouted as the dragon crackled with black energy.

 

The two zords shot up into the sky and started to circle around one another while in comets of energy.

 

“Armor merge to…”

 

The two zords fused. Black armor covered the MegaThunderzord as the head of the Shadow Dragon formed a helmet for the megazord. The claws of the Shadow Dragon formed a pair of dagger-shaped  wrist gauntlets.

 

“…ShadowMegazord!!”

 

The ShadowMegazord swooped down from the air while extending the claws on its right wrist. The blades struck through the Sphinx and forced the creature several blocks back.

 

The ShadowMegazord powered up its wrist gauntlets, as well as the dragon mouth in the center of its chest.

 

ShadowMegazord…Chaos Force!”

 

The gauntlets and chest fired beams of black energy that tore through the monster and caused him to explode.

 

***

 

Tommy and Rocky returned to the Oliver home following their battle to finish unpacking. “So what exactly happened with you and that Shadow freak?” Rocky asked. “I mean…is he in you or something?”

 

“I’m not sure exactly,” Tommy said. “It feels like…I don’t know…just feels like I’ve accepted my dark side finally. I’m done fighting against it. As long as I don’t let it control me…I’ll be fine.”

 

“That makes sense,” Rocky said.

 

Tommy nodded. “Zordon has an interesting view of it all. He says there’s no such thing as negative emotions. Being angry at an injustice might cause someone to take positive steps towards fixing things, ya know?”

 

Rocky nodded. “That makes sense.”

 

Tommy smiled. “Sorry. Rambling again.”

 

Rocky laughed. “It’s okay. I mean…you’re right. But didn’t Kaku always say not to fight with your emotions?”

 

Tommy nodded. “Not to let your emotions control you. Any emotion. It’s what I learned in that volcano.”

 

Tommy’s sister Chelsea peaked her head in as she knocked on the side of the door frame. “If you two are done with your Ranger-talk, Teddy and I were thinking of grabbing a bite. You two wanna come?”

 

“Sure,” Tommy said as he set aside a small box.

 

“What about you, Rocko?” Chelsea asked.

 

Rocky smiled sheepishly. “I’m not sure if it would be a good idea…I have a lot to do today and…”

 

“Oh come on,” Chelsea said as she grabbed him by the shoulder and led him out of the room. “I’ll buy.”

 

Tommy simply smiled and shook his head as he walked out of the room. “Crazy times…”

 

To be continued…Chapter 14