Shadows of Evil: Chapter Sixteen
Enter the Nightmare
Zedd sat on his throne while tapping his fingers against his armrest and waiting for Draklith to return. “I swear, that fool can’t do anything right…” Zedd mumbled.
Lord Zedd had finally developed the perfect plan to combat the Rangers. A plan that would attack their minds and emotions, not bodies.
Draklith finally entered Zedd’s throne room while carrying a small crystal that seemed to contain a cyan-colored swirl of living energy. “I have returned, sire…”
“I see that, fool,” Zedd said as he extended his hand. “Give me the crystal…”
Zedd took hold of the small crystal and held it in front of his blood-red visor. “Excellent…After thousands of years, the Nightmare will be unleashed again.”
Tommy and Teddy practiced in the park, when suddenly, explosions sparked around them as a result of Trakeena’s latest sneak attack.
The brothers rolled away from the explosions and rose to their feet as a group of Fire Golems surrounded them.
“Ready?” Tommy asked his brother as he prepared his Aura braces.
Teddy nodded while readying his Kiba morpher and key. “Whenever you are, big brother.”
“Chakra ignite, Aura/Kiba Power!” they shouted as their armor flashed to life around them.
Kiba Ranger flipped forward while bringing his tiger saber slashing vertically through a soldier’s chest.
Dragon Ranger ran forward through two lines of Golems while swinging his Twin Dragon Swords in a blur of motion, cutting and hacking through the rocky flesh of Finster’s creations as easily as a knife through warm butter.
Kiba Ranger dispatched his second adversary with a hook kick across the face before looking to his brother. “Show off…” he said jokingly.
A monster dropped from the sky and landed in front of the Rangers as they regrouped and assumed fighting stances. Finster’s latest creation resembled a scarlet-colored praying mantis.
The monster pulled back a curved blade that charged with crimson energy, then swung forward, emitting an energy pulse that arced towards the two Rangers.
“Break!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he pushed his brother aside and leapt out of the way. The energy blade exploded between the two Rangers.
Dragon Ranger quickly rolled onto his knees and armed his Thunder Staff before springing through the air towards the Mantis. Kiba Ranger did the same with Byakko.
The monster fired lances of red energy with its antenna. The blasts struck Kiba Ranger from the air, but Dragon Ranger twirled his staff to deflect the energy lances before bringing his staff smashing down across the villain’s neck. He swung the other end of the staff against the creature’s gut, then brought that end around and crashed it against the back of the monster’s head.
The monster fell to the ground and rolled forward before rising back to its feet. Dragon Ranger extended his hand towards the creature as his fist radiated with fiery energy.
“Magna Blast!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he opened his palm, and a wave of flame streamed out towards the monster along with spears of red energy. The blast cut through and incinerated the monster, causing it to explode.
The other four Rangers arrived on the scene and regrouped with Dragon Ranger and Kiba Ranger as they looked at the smoking debris that used to be a monster.
“Glad to see we showed up in time,” Tenma Ranger said sarcastically.
A bolt of crimson lightning struck the ground behind the six Rangers. They turned and assumed fighting stances as Lord Zedd stepped from the blast. The Rangers struck like lightning.
“Hand of Fate!”
Their blasts passed through Zedd as if he wasn’t really there.
“Foolish children,” Zedd said. “I am merely projecting my image to you to deliver an important message.”
Dragon Ranger stepped forward. “We couldn’t possibly be less interested in what you have to say, Zedd.”
Zedd laughed. “Very well…I’ll just cut right to the chase…”
A large shadow covered the ground around the Rangers and reached out towards them like tentacles. The shadow wrapped around the Rangers like a blanket of ice as the image of Zedd faded, his evil laughter echoing across the park.
Rocky was surrounded by a cloud of darkness as he looked around in shock. “What the hell happened?
From the dark cloud stepped Rocky’s father, the same man who had died in a car accident when the ranger was only a boy.
Rocky’s face turned pale as his jaw dropped. “Dad…”
Tommy wrinkled his brow with frustration as he looked around the dark void that surrounded him.
“I’m really getting sick of these things,” he said to himself.
A ghostly image began to form in the darkness. He saw himself standing on a cliff alone as Kimberly walked away from him while in the arms of another. His family was leaving him too. Below the cliff was an image of his dead birth father, hovering in the air with his arms opened wide.
Billy raised an eyebrow as he looked around with curiosity at the dark mist floating around his body.
“What is this place?” he asked as continued to look around.
An image formed behind him as he turned to look. He took a step back in shock as he saw an image of himself as a boy leaning over his mother’s hospital bed, crying as cancer slowly killed her.
Adam was engulfed in a dark cloud that sent a chill creeping up his spine as he looked for any sign of the others.
He heard voices echoing throughout the darkness. He quickly realized they were all voices of his father. Chastising, insulting, knocking him down.
An image formed of a young Adam lying on his bedroom floor crying.
Teddy looked frantically around the darkness for any sign of the other Rangers. “Tommy! Guys where are you!”
An image formed in front of Teddy that caused him to step back in shock. It was his junior high gym. Teddy watched as a mirror image of himself was pushed down by a group of Eighth graders.
“Fag!” they shouted.
Teddy shook his head as he watched.
Kimberly was alone in the darkness. “What’s going on?”
An image appeared of a young Kimberly sitting on her apartment floor as her father and mother screamed at each other. Her father left in a fit of rage as her mother turned to the young Kimberly while in tears.
“See what you’ve done!” her mother shouted.
Jason and his Ninja team, Zack, Trini, Jonathan, and Richie, stood in the Command Chamber while they watched a massive shadow sphere continue to grow over the park.
“They’re trapped in that…thing?” Jonathan asked.
“I am afraid so,” Zordon said. “Only the Rangers can break themselves free.”
“What exactly is it, Zordon?” Trini asked.
“An ancient being of psionic energy known as Nightmare,” Zordon explained. “He feeds off of despair, fear, and sorrow.”
“What can we do?” Jason asked.
“Zedd has his Wolfmen surrounding the park area, along with a monster,” Zordon said. “Stop them from causing any harm…”
Jason nodded. “We’re on it…”
“Let’s go,” Trini said.
The image of Rocky’s Dad stalked forward with his right hand outstretched. “You’ve grown…”
Rocky took a step back as he shook his head. “This isn’t real…I know this isn’t real…”
“Do you?” he father asked. “You, who just journeyed through Hell itself fighting monsters and demons, have trouble believing this can be real?”
Rocky took another step back, tripping over his own feet as he fell to the ground.
“You’re not my father,” Rocky said firmly.
“What’s happened to you?” the image of Rocky’s Dad asked as he shook his head in disappointment. “You used to be so bright. So much potential…but now…You’re not much more than a clown. A joke.”
“You’re not my father…” Rocky said again, his voice slightly quivering.
“Your older brother is off to college…the least you could do is help your mother around the house, look after your younger brothers and sisters…but instead you parade around playing your little games…games that let you escape real life…”
“You’re not my father…” Rocky said quietly.
“You’re not my son,” he said. “My son is not weak. He is not a joke, and he wouldn’t be treated like one by his friends. He wouldn’t let innocents die…you just had to drag sweet Karen into everything.”
“You’re…” Rocky rolled his hands up into fists as he shook his head, a tear streaming down his cheek.
Tommy watched the vision of himself on a cliff.
“Quite a sight, isn’t it Tommy?” a voice said from within the darkness. It was Bandora.
Tommy knew the voice and vision weren’t real, but hearing her voice again sent a shiver down his spine.
“Whatever you are,” Tommy said. “This won’t work. I’ve made my peace with my dark side…”
“I am not here to haunt you with visions of the past, but of the future,” Bandora’s voice said. “Your power grows stronger with every battle…your teammates fear you, regardless of how you rationalize your own being.”
“They don’t fear me…” Tommy said as he shook his head.
“They do,” Bandora said. “It is the same thing that happened to your father. All those who were close to him left him. His parents, his friends, all of them. He was alone. Joining the Gorma was his only choice. Who wouldn’t choose evil over emptiness?”
“I’m telling you,” Tommy said, “this isn’t going to work.”
Images flashed through the void: Tommy as the Red Dragon Ranger using his fiery attacks to vanquish his foes, and Tommy as the Green Dragon Ranger fighting against Jason, Kimberly, and the others. He saw a look of fear in Kimberly’s eyes as his Dragon Dagger approached her helmet, just before she struck him with her arrow.
He saw the same look of fear in her eyes as she watched him fight against the Gorma and Zedd as the Red Ranger.
“She will always see you as the Green Dragon Ranger. She will always fear you, no matter how much she will try to love you. The stronger you grow, the more afraid she will become. Afraid you might someday turn on her. Turn against the Rangers…She will leave you, Tommy, and you will be alone…”
Billy watched his younger self cry as his mother slipped towards death.
“Would she be proud of you?” a voice asked from behind Billy. He turned to see an image of his father. “I’m not sure…all you do is hide in your lab. I used to understand why you did it. You wanted to find a cure so no one else would have to go through what we did….but how much time have you spent with trying to find a cure, and how much time have you spent cooking up ideas for war toys?
“This Rescue Initiative idea of yours, the Astro project, and your other ideas…” his Dad shook his head. “They’re nothing but tools for war. How ironic considering how much a pacifist she was…”
Billy knew the vision was fake, but the words still stung him deeply. “What we do as Rangers helps people…”
“All you’re doing is using your Ranger status as another excuse to hide…and I also question your motives,” his Dad said.
The image changed to one of Kimberly. “You’ve loved her from the beginning…but Tommy swooped right in. You let him do it to you. You were one of the first to offer Tommy friendship, and he repays you by taking her from you.”
Billy shook his head. “She’s not a possession. She chose to be with Tommy.”
“You know you would be better for her,” his Dad said.
Billy said nothing.
Adam watched his younger self cry as his father screamed at him.
“You try to be brave, Adam,” the voice of Kujaku said from the darkness, “but I know it’s not true. You will always be that scared little boy. He always criticized you. You never did anything to make him happy. And now…he hates you. Actually hates you because you’re a Ranger.”
“He doesn’t know I’m a Ranger,” Adam said.
“It wouldn’t matter,” Kujaku said. “He blames you for the loss of so many of his fellow officers. His comrades. Did you know your own father fantasies about killing you?”
The image changed to a vision of Adam’s Dad blasting the Lion Ranger through the chest.
Teddy watched the gym scene from a few months back unfold before his eyes.
“They caught you looking at them,” an image of Teddy’s priest said as he stepped from the darkness.
“I wasn’t looking,” Teddy said.
The priest nodded. “You were…what will happen if word gets out? What would your brother think? Your sister? Your parents? The rangers? You obviously know, otherwise you would have told them all by now.”
Teddy shook his head, his body shaking. “No…they’d…they’d understand…”
“Then tell them,” The priest said. “Tell Chelsea how much you enjoy it when she brings her boyfriends over. Tell Tommy you have a crush on his young student Simon…how you look at him while you’re training together…how his golden hair sparkles in the sun and his eyes captivate you. How his body makes you think the most wicked of thoughts.”
A tear streamed down Teddy’s cheek.
“Do not be sad, Teddy,” the priest said. “You have a disease.”
“Grow up, Kimberly!” an image of her mother shouted as she appeared through the darkness. “Jesus, you wonder why I’m never home. Always whining. Always so full of drama. No wonder your father left us alone…it’s only a matter of time before Tommy gets sick of you too…”
“Stop it,” Kimberly said firmly.
“Or what?” she asked. “You can’t do anything about it. Can’t even do a descent job of raising yourself, let alone looking after others. Look at what happened to Kou…”
Jason and his team ran to the park and stood outside the perimeter of the shadow dome, watching as it slowly expanded. A group of Wolfmen patrolled the dome and howled upon seeing the five rangers.
The rangers readied their Doron Changers. “Shogun transform, Ninja Power!” Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their armor.
The Wolfmen charged forward, and the Rangers unsheathed their swords.
“Let’s bag ‘em!” Ninjared shouted as the Rangers ran forward towards their enemies.
Trakeena watched through her crystal ball as the shadow sphere continued to grow and the Ninja Rangers battled the Wolfmen surrounding the perimeter.
The Ninja Rangers had never been a concern for her. Although they were powerful, the Power Rangers were her main threat. They were already out of her league, although she’d never admit it. It would take more than a monster cooked up by Finster to stop them. Even Zedd’s attempt at attacking their minds would fail.
“I need something big,” she said thoughtfully to herself.
Finster waddled into her private chambers while carrying a dusty old book. “Trakeena…”
She turned her head back to glare at the troll. “I thought I told you not to disturb me.”
“Actually,” Finster said. “You told me to find this book for you. It’s from the libraries of Ka’zuul, the worshippers of DaiSatan.”
An evil grin spread across Trakeena’s face. “Just what I needed.”
Ninjared ran his blade horizontally through a wolf’s neck as the soldier fell to the ground. “There’s gotta be something we can do.”
Ninjawhite jumpkicked a soldier to the ground. She turned to look through the dome, and she could see the outlines of the five Power Rangers inside as ghost-type shadows danced around them.
“I don’t think this border is the actual Nightmare demon,” she said as she sidekicked a wolf in the face.
“So what?” Ninjayellow asked as he flipped a soldier over his shoulder. “What are we supposed to do, just waltz in?”
“Maybe,” Ninjawhite said as she grabbed a wolf by the shoulders while falling backwards and pushing off with her feet. The wolf flew through the border and rose to his feet while on the other side. He charged back towards the border, but slammed against it.
“So we can go in, but not out,” Ninjablue said while using his Shogun Blaster in dagger mode to cut through a soldier.
Ninjared hook kicked a wolf across the face. “Zordon said they’re the only ones that can break free…maybe we can go in and help them…”
“All of us?” Ninjablack asked.
“No,” Ninjawhite said. “Jonathan and Richie, stay out here.”
“No way,” Ninjayellow said. “I’m not letting you go in that thing without me.”
“Now’s not the time for macho displays of over protection,” Trini said.
“Love you too,” Ninjayellow said.
“Let’s go,” Ninjared said as he, Ninjablack, and Ninjawhite leapt through the dome.
Rocky sat on the ground while rocking back and forth in the fetal position, and the image of his father continued to criticize him.
“A disappointment…” he said again. “It should have been you who died in that wreck, worthless little brat…”
An image of his mother circled around him as well. “What would your father think if he were alive today? Look at you…”
“Rocky…” another voice said from the void, only this one seemed warmer. It was Trini. “This is all a trick…you’re trapped inside a demon called Nightmare.”
He lifted his head up, tears freshly fallen down his cheeks, as Trini continued. “Don’t believe this lie. I’ve seen you fight. You’ve saved lots of lives. Your dad would be proud of you, and you know it…”
Rocky shook his head. “I’m the team joke…”
“No…” Trini said quietly. “You’re so much more than that. Your humor lifts their spirits when they need it most. That doesn’t make you any less of a fighter, and makes you a strong asset. Your friends believe in you Rocky…so does your mother…and your Dad would be proud of the person you’ve become.”
Tommy shook his head as he stared at the vision of all his loved ones leaving him out of fear.
Then Jason’s voice came from the void. “Don’t buy this for a second, bro,” Jason said. “You’ve more than made up for your time spent with Bandora. You’ve gained our trust. Sure, when you first joined up we were all a little afraid, but you proved yourself. And Kimberly, god man, she loves you so much. You’re lucky…”
Tears streamed down Adam’s cheeks as he watched the images of his father shoot the Lion Ranger play over and over as if stuck in a loop.
“He doesn’t know, Adam,” Jason said through the void. “He doesn’t know, man, so snap out of it.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Adam said quietly. “He’d disown me if he found out.”
“Adam,” Jason said. “You do the same thing he does…you fight to protect others. The only reason he hates the Rangers is because he doesn’t understand.”
“He’s always been so…” Adam shook his head.
“I know he was hard on you, but you have to understand that you didn’t do anything wrong…”
“Billy, you’re smarter than this,” Trini’s voice said through the darkness. “I know you care about Kimberly, but she’s happy. That’s what matters. And you’re doing exactly what you meant to do when your mother died…using science to save lives. She’d be proud.”
“Kim,” Jason said to her through the darkness. “You have no idea how strong you are.”
Kimberly shook her head, but Jason continued before she could protest. “You practically raised yourself, and look how you turned out. You’re the heart of the team. Caring. Compassionate. And I didn’t know Kou really, but from what I’ve heard, he cared about you a lot. You made him happy. You gave him the one thing he never had…a home.”
The shadow dome imploded, casting black flame across the park as the Rangers were all thrown back…all except Kiba Ranger.
Dragon Ranger rose to his feet and looked to the center of the implosion to where streams of shadow continued to dance across his younger brother.
“Teddy!” Dragon Ranger shouted as the two teams of Rangers regrouped.
“The young-blood is mine,” a cold and raspy voice whispered through the wind. It was the voice of Nightmare.
“I don’t think so, Nightmare!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he armed his Twin Dragon Swords.
“But I do…” Nightmare hissed as dark lightning streaked from Kiba Ranger’s body and exploded against the Rangers’ armor.
Teddy sat alone in the darkness as shadowy figures surrounded him.
“You are sick and pathetic.”
“A little fairy, fighting to protect Earth? Ha!”
“Who the fuck wants a rainbow ranger?”
Teddy shook his head. “I can’t help who I am…leave me alone….”
The shadowy voices laughed at him, their chilling voices echoing through the void.
An illusion of Simon appeared. The image kneeled down to look at Teddy with disgust. “I can’t believe you, freak…” Simon pushed Teddy backwards. “God, you make me sick. All that time we spent together…you were checking me out the whole time, pansy.”
Simon punched Teddy across the face.
Dark lightning struck out from Kiba Ranger’s body again. Dragon Ranger used his two sabers to deflect the blast, but the others were hit hard.
Kirin Ranger slowly rose to his feet. “Nightmare is using Teddy’s negative energy as a power source.”
“Obviously…” Ninjayellow said.
“Teddy!” Dragon Ranger shouted. “You have to fight it, little brother.”
Teddy heard his brother’s voice through the darkness, and so did the shadows.
Simon punched him again. “Would he call for you if he knew your dirty secret? No…he’d let you die here. Die alone.”
Teddy heard his brother scream his name again. He wrinkled his brow with anger and rolled his hands up into fists. “I don’t think so…”
Teddy sprang to his feet and pushed the vision of Simon backward. “He wouldn’t let me die just because I’m different…”
“You so sure?”
Teddy stood as stiff as a board as white energy circled around him. “I know what you’re trying to do…and I’m not falling for it anymore. Now get out of my head!”
White light flashed around Kiba Ranger as the shadows blasted out of him. The two Ranger teams ran around Kiba Ranger, and Dragon Ranger helped his brother to his feet.
“You okay?” Dragon Ranger asked.
Kiba Ranger nodded, not saying a word.
The streams of shadow joined in the air and landed on the ground in front of the two teams as they snapped into fighting stances. Nightmare took the form of a slender, dark angelic figure covered in black.
He opened his mouth to reveal rows of fangs as he spread his ragged, onyx wings backward and prepared to strike. “Face me in my true form, Rangers…face me and die…”
Kiba Ranger unsheathed his Tiger Saber. “Byakko, let’s take this wing-brain out!”
Kiba Ranger ran forward, shouting a war cry at the top of his lungs.
Dragon Ranger held out his hand. “Teddy, wait!”
Kiba Ranger leapt towards his opponent as his saber vibrated with white energy.
“Sonic Slash!” he shouted as he brought his blade down diagonally across the demon’s chest.
Kiba Ranger landed on the ground as white energy vibrated between his two fists. “Sonic Boom!” he shouted as he crossed his fists and emitted an energy blade that exploded against Nightmare and sent him hurling backward several meters before using his wings to steady himself.
The Rangers ran to Kiba Ranger’s side.
“Let’s finish him,” Dragon Ranger said.
The Power Rangers stood together and summoned spheres of cyan energy. “Kiryoku bomber!” they shouted as they hurled the spheres towards their opponent.
The Ninja Rangers placed their swords together. “Shinobi Spear!” they shouted as they fired a lance of golden energy that tore through the demon.
Nightmare was torn to shreds by the attacks as his screams of demise echoed across the park. The dark flames created by the explosion ignited and towered into the skies as a giant form of Nightmare appeared.
“Thunderzords arise!” the five Power Rangers shouted as they summoned their zords and hopped into the cockpits.
“Thunder-Star Fusion!” Dragon Ranger shouted from his cockpit as the five zords combined. “MegaThunderzord, ChoiDairenou!”
The Ninja Rangers pulled out their scrolls. “Ninjazords arise!”
They entered the cockpits of their five zords.
“Ninja fusion!” Ninjared shouted as the five zords combined into the NinjaMegazord.
Nightmare extended his hands and fired bolts of black lightning.
MegaThunderzord used its wings to leap over the blast, but NinjaMegazord was hit hard and blasted backwards as explosions sparked across the Megazord’s armor.
“Kirin Flares!” the Power Rangers shouted as their zord extended its Kirin arm and fired flares of energy that crashed harmlessly against Nightmare.
“Let’s take it up a notch,” Dragon Ranger said. “MegaThunderzord, armor up!”
The MegaThunderzord was encased with cyan energy as a suit of silver and gold armor encompassed it, and an extra set of wings grew from the back. A large silver sword appeared in the Megazord’s hands.
“MegaThunderzord, Paladin mode!” the Rangers shouted.
Nightmare laughed. “Your toys are no match for me!”
The demon fired crimson optic blasts that slammed against the Megazord and bashed it to the ground. Nightmare poured on the power as the Paladin was forced across the earth, kicking up piles of ground, dirt, and trees.
Kiba Ranger watched from below as Byakko spoke. “Teddy, call for the Won Tiger…”
“The Tigerzord is still around?” Kiba Ranger asked.
“Yes…” Byakko said as a small streak of white light shot through the sky and landed in the White Ranger’s hand.
“All right…” Teddy said. “Tigerzord, arise!”
The Tigerzord appeared and stomped towards Nightmare as Kiba Ranger leapt into the cockpit.
“White Tiger, rise up!” Kiba Ranger shouted as the Tigerzord assumed its warrior mode.
The MegaThunderzord rose to its feet as its armor powered down to standard mode.
“Rangers,” Zordon instructed them through their communicators. “The White Tiger and MegaThunderzord can fuse together to form an even more powerful Megazord. Only with its power can you stop Nightmare.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Kiba Ranger said.
“MegaThunderzord…” the Rangers shouted as their Megazord crackled with crimson energy.
“White Tigerzord…” Kiba Ranger shouted as the tiger crackled with white energy.
The two zords shot up into the sky and circled around one another while inside comets of energy. “Armor merge to…”
The two zords fused. White armor covered the MegaThunderzord as the head of the White Tiger formed around the head of the dragon on the zord’s chest. The wings transformed into two broad swords of gold.
Nightmare fired a bolt of black lightning that the Fang Megazord deflected with its swords as it dashed forward towards the demon. The Megazord flipped through the air and crashed its feet against Nightmare, sending the creature tumbling backwards.
The two sabers charged with golden energy as the Megazord stepped forward.
“Fang Blades, sonic strike!” the rangers shouted as the sabers energized and cut through Nightmare, causing the demon to explode in a flash of black flame.
The Rangers regrouped in the park below. They didn’t have time to celebrate their victory.
A bolt of green lightning appeared, and Trakeena stepped forward with a confident grin spread across her face.
Finster was walking in step behind her, carrying an open book.
“I hope you enjoyed your victory, Rangers,” Trakeena said as she stood boldly in front of them. “It’s the last one you’ll ever have.”
The Rangers struck fighting stances.
“We can take you, no problem,” Dragon Ranger said.
Finster started whispering an incantation from the book.
“That’s about to change,” she said. “I’m no scientist, but apparently energy can’t be destroyed…”
Dark clouds covered the skies as lightning bolts danced across the wind.
“Tommy…” Trakeena said. “You remember killing DaiSatan? Turns out he was more clever than most believed…”
In the center of Angel Grove, the spire that had once summoned DaiSatan reappeared in a bolt of purple lightning.
To be continued…Chapter 17