Shadows of Evil: Chapter Eighteen
Vex sat alone in a dark cavern while sharpening his blade with his own refined optic blasts. The silent assassin was assigned with killing the defectors of Zedd’s army. Levina, Trakeena, and Finster had already fallen…but by the Rangers’ hands, not his.
It was a failure, but one that taught the assassin a lesson.
As of yet, Vex had been unable to track down and kill Azrael, but perhaps he could set her up. His target didn’t necessarily have to die by his blade, as long as he had some role in her demise.
Vex placed his saber in the holster on his back as he disappeared in a blur of motion.
Teddy walked across the shore of Bear Lake, sharing stories of his latest adventures with Simon. It was the first time the two friends had talked since Teddy became a Ranger.
Teddy had avoided Simon after his experience with Nightmare. The psionic creature had invaded the young ranger’s mind and used his fear of his own sexuality against him. A large part of that fear was Teddy’s secret crush on Simon.
Simon had eventually cornered Teddy, and the young ranger was trying his best to put his own awkwardness aside.
“Man, Teddy,” Simon said as he patted Teddy on the back. “Some guys have all the luck.”
Teddy blushed, smiling sheepishly as he shrugged. “I wouldn’t call it luck, per say…”
The two friends walked to a clearing where Tommy and Rocky were waiting for them. Tommy brought Rocky along to teach the kids a few Koppouken techniques.
Before they could get started, small explosions sparked across the ground as they rolled for cover.
Vex dropped from the trees and landed in front of the group as they rose to their feet and assumed fighting stances.
Tommy looked to Simon. “Simon, run…”
Simon nodded and ran off. “Be careful…”
They readied their transformation braces. “It’s morphin time!”
“Chakra ignite, Aura/Kiba power!”
Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their armor.
Dragon Ranger extended his arms while shouting “Star Fire!” and launching a comet of flame at the warrior. Vex leapt over the flame as Kiba Ranger leapt through the air with Byakko and swung his blade towards the villain.
Vex blocked the blow with his own saber and kicked the White Ranger from the air. Kiba Ranger landed on the ground, and Vex landed on his feet. The assassin tossed a small dagger into a tree before disappeared in a blur of motion.
Dragon Ranger helped his brother to his feet as Tenma Ranger looked at a piece of paper extending from Vex’s dagger.
“What’s this…” he said quietly to himself as he read the jagged writing on the paper. ‘Tenma Ranger. Azrael. Karen’s resting place at sundown.”
Tenma Ranger crumbled up the piece of paper in his hand as anger swelled up inside him.
Draklith was pacing back and forth within his private chambers inside Zedd’s palace.
Lord Zedd was getting more and more useless as the days went by, and Draklith figured it was only a matter of time before the warlord went mad and ended up getting himself killed.
Draklith wouldn’t mind seeing Zedd go. With Zedd gone, Draklith would be free to roam the galaxy and spread his iron fist at his own free will. Perhaps even offer his services and muscle to the highest bidder.
First, however, Draklith had a score to settle. A score with the Tenma Ranger.
“I’m tired of this place,” Draklith said. “The time to act is now…”
The rangers arrived at the Command Chamber and stood before Zordon as Rocky held the paper in his hand. “It’s obviously a set-up,” Rocky said. “But for what? Could this note be any more vague?”
“I suppose we’ll find out,” Adam said.
“No way,” Rocky said. “She’s mine.”
“Rocky,” Kimberly said. “You’ll need our help.”
Tommy nodded. “She’ll have her Dark Riders with her. We all need to be there…especially since there’s bound to be a surprise or two.”
Vex kneeled in front of Azrael as he handed her the scroll. He was kneeling on his left leg, a sign of mockery and disrespect among his people he was sure she wouldn’t recognize.
Azrael read over the scroll as her four Dark Riders stood behind her. Vex knew he could take on each of the Riders one-on-one, most likely even two at a time, but not all four of them at once. This was why such a trick was necessary.
“What sort of weapon is this?” Azrael asked.
Vex remained silent.
The demon smiled with amusement. “Secrecy always has amused me.”
Vex wondered for a second if Azrael knew no weapon existed and she was being set up for an ambush by the Rangers. Not that it would matter. Both sides probably suspected something, but both sides wouldn’t be able to resist the bait.
“It’s a weapon of some sort,” Billy said within the Command Chamber as he and Alpha finished their sensor sweep of the area Vex was directing them towards.
“You’re right, Billy,” Alpha said. “But what sort of weapon?”
Billy sighed as he shook his head. “It’s too hard to say. One thing’s for sure…we have to get there before Azrael does.”
Rocky was walking through the park with his hands in his pockets and head hung low. It seemed that every time he started to feel slightly good about life again, something popped up to remind him about Karen. The fact that a demon possessing her former body walked the earth didn’t help matters at all.
A lightning bolt struck the ground in front of Rocky as he snapped into a defensive stance. “That lightning is never good…”
The bolt vanished and Draklith stepped forward. Rocky wrinkled his brow with anger as he faced Karen’s killer.
“Draklith…” Rocky said through his teeth.
“Hello, little unicorn,” Draklith said as he held his sword up. “I thought I’d be kind enough to offer you a chance to avenge poor Karen’s death. Perhaps I-”
“Perhaps you can go to hell,” Rocky shouted as he dashed forward while readied his Aura braces. “Chakra ignite!”
Blue energy shimmered around Rocky as he transformed into the Tenma Ranger. He readied his Thunder Staff as a swirl of lightning surrounded the two opponents and transported them away.
Tenma Ranger reappeared in the barren landscape littered with a few broken columns that he recognized immediately. This was the pocket dimension where Draklith had killed Karen.
“Welcome back,” Draklith said as he readied his blade.
Tenma Ranger tightened his grip on his staff and began twirling it. “You are in for some major pain…Iron Rock Crusher!”
The staff energized and slammed down, producing a massive shock wave that tore through the ground towards Draklith and exploded beneath the villain.
Draklith was thrown off his feet, but he managed to recover in mid air and flip towards Tenma Ranger while bringing his sword down vertically towards his opponent’s head.
Tenma Ranger held his staff up horizontally and blocked the blow while pushing Draklith backward and taking a swing towards the villain’s head. Draklith parried the blow and followed through with a strike towards the Ranger’s chest, but Tenma Ranger swung the other end of his staff around to block that blow before snapping off a tornado kick that slammed against Draklith’s head.
Draklith fired a crimson optic blast that exploded against Tenma Ranger’s chest. Tenma Ranger was operating on full adrenaline and didn’t let the blast stop him as he sprinted forward.
Draklith assumed a defensive posture. “I see you’ve grown stronger...”
“And it’s the last thing you’ll ever see!” Tenma Ranger shouted as he feinted with his staff, then tossed his Star Cutter forward like a throwing dagger. The blade crashed against Draklith’s chest as Tenma Ranger slammed a sidekick against his opponent’s face.
Draklith countered by slamming a backfist blow across the Ranger’s helmet, then cut the Thunder Staff in half while slicing across Tenma Ranger’s chest armor.
Tenma Ranger fell backwards but quickly rolled to his knees just in time to see Draklith’s heel kick him upside the head.
The other teens were in the Command Chamber as sundown approached.
“Where is he?” Tommy asked with worry in his voice. “He was itching to get back at Azrael…”
Billy shook his head as he reviewed a data readout. “It looks like he was teleported away from the park. Energy signatures match Draklith.”
“What does he have against Rocky?” Kimberly asked.
“Hard to tell with the mind of a lunatic,” Tommy said. “We have to get to that weapon before Azrael does. Alpha, keep looking for Rocky.”
Azrael walked across the mountainous area outside of Angel Grove as the sun set in the horizon. Her Dark Riders were besides her as she spotted a shimmering object half-way buried in dirt.
She walked over to the object and looked down at it as rage filled her veins. It was a small orb, resonating with energy signatures, but with no actual power.
“This is worthless…” she said as she stabbed her blade through the orb and shattered it.
“Azrael!” Tommy shouted from a cliff above as five of the six Rangers stared down at her.
Azrael wrinkled her brow at the Rangers. “Stop them,” she said as she pointed her sword towards the teens. The Dark Riders leapt to action as the rangers readied their Aura Braces.
“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!”
The Rangers energized and leapt off the cliff to face the Dark Riders.
Black Rider readied his jagged blade and ran towards Dragon Ranger. “You will once again feel the sting of my blade!”
“Shut up,” Dragon Ranger said as he flying sidekicked the Rider in the chest. “Burn Knuckle!” he shouted as his right fist energized and slammed against the Rider’s face.
Crimson Rider ran towards Lion Ranger. “Angel of Light…you’re about to burn out…”
“I don’t know why you freaks keep calling me that,” Lion Ranger said as he slammed a jumpkick against the Rider’s face.
Silver Rider cackled as he ran towards Phoenix Ranger. “Hello again, female.”
“Save it…” Phoenix Ranger said as she flipped towards the Rider while arming her circular Star Blade and slicing the weapon horizontally across the villain’s chest.
Green Rider darted towards Kirin Ranger while firing small energy discs. The discs exploded around Kirin Ranger as he leapt towards the Rider while tossing his Kirin blade and rope. The blade stuck against the Rider’s armor as Kirin Ranger sent a volt of energy across the rope that exploded against the Rider.
Kiba Ranger ran towards Azrael. “You…” she said with venom in her voice. “You killed my father…”
“Your hands are even more stained,” Kiba Ranger said.
“Careful, Teddy,” Byakko warned.
Azrael extended her daggers and fired a purple-tinted energy blade that sparked against Kiba Ranger’s chest.
Azrael then crossed her blades in front of her chest as they gathered streams of energy from the Shadow World. She whispered an incantation as the energy streaked from her daggers and entered the bodies of the Dark Riders.
The four Riders rippled with power as their bodies transformed.
Black Rider’s helmet became the head of a dragon as scaly armor covered his body and columns of spikes ran across his forearms and back.
Green Rider’s helmet took the form of a chameleon as segmented armor covered his body, and a spiked tail grew from his back.
Silver’s visor took the shape of a bat as his armor took on an edged form wrapped around his leathery black body suit.
Crimson’s armor became snake-like as an electric whip appeared in his hand.
Black Rider extended his two gauntlets and fired streams of black flame that exploded around Dragon Ranger.
Green Rider slammed his tail to the ground and produced a shockwave that ripped the ground out from underneath Kirin Ranger while causing a massive explosion.
Silver Rider extended a double-edged sword that produced a wave of sonic energy that crashed against Phoenix Ranger’s armor.
Crimson Rider snapped his whip, firing a crimson energy pulse that exploded around Lion Ranger.
Draklith lifted Tenma Ranger up by the throat and slammed his back against a column twice before tossing him backwards.
Tenma Ranger rolled onto his knees and turned to face Draklith while readying his “Star Blade!” but he didn’t get a chance to use the weapon. Draklith fired energy darts from the spikes on his chest that crashed against Tenma Ranger’s armor.
“Get up, unicorn,” Draklith growled as he stalked towards the Ranger. “It’s time for our feud to end.”
“Agreed,” Tenma Ranger said as he slowly rose to his feet. “But it’s not going to be an ending you’ll like…To Arms!”
Energy circled around Tenma Ranger as his armor became three dimensional and edged. He transformed into the armor of Hardrock.
“That armor didn’t save you last time,” Draklith said, “and it won’t now.”
Hardrock ran towards Draklith as his staff split into three segments. He twirled the two end segments as he lunged forward and bashed Draklith with several blows.
“You just had to get her involved…” Hardrock said through his teeth as he continued to pound against Draklith. “…couldn’t have just let her go…”
Draklith swung his sword horizontally and knocked Hardrock away. “That blast was aimed at you, unicorn. You killed her…not me…”
“Bastard!” Hardrock shouted as he spun his staff and swung it towards the ground. “Iron Rock Crusher!”
The staff produced a massive shockwave that tore through the ground as Hardrock slammed his staff towards the earth again, producing another shockwave. He slammed the ground over and over until a massive sandstorm of energy and debris was all the eye could see.
The sandstorm slowly let down, revealing a large crater which resulted from Hardrock’s attacks. Steam rose from the ground as small energy discharges crackled through the air.
Hardrock powered his armor down to standard form as he walked over to Draklith’s fallen form. The villain was beaten badly and could barely move.
Tenma Ranger unsheathed his Thunder Sword and held the blade inches away from Draklith’s throat. “I know what you’re thinking…I’m a good guy…good guys don’t kill their enemies in cold blood once they’ve fallen…”
Draklith muttered a response, but Tenma Ranger paid no attention.
“I used to think that way,” Tenma Ranger said. “Used to think it was all always black and white…then you took her from me…” Tenma Ranger jammed his sword through Draklith’s skull. “…and I learned I was wrong.”
Azrael swung her blades across Kiba Ranger’s chest in an ‘x’ pattern as the young Ranger fell to the ground.
She stood over Kiba Ranger and placed a foot on his chest while she energized her two daggers.
“I don’t know why father feared you so…this is easier than I ever dreamed possible….” Azrael said.
A jagged pulse of blue energy streaked through the air and slammed against Azrael, knocking her backward and onto the ground.
Azrael rose to her knees and looked up to see Tenma Ranger standing on a cliff, looking down upon her. She smiled at him and licked her top lip. “I was wondering when you’d show up…”
Tenma Ranger flipped to the ground as the six Rangers regrouped.
“Good to see you back,” Dragon Ranger said.
The four Dark Riders regrouped around Azrael.
“Let’s suit up,” Dragon Ranger said. “To arms!”
Energy swarmed around the core five Rangers as their armor activated.
The five villains combined their blasts to form a massive energy wave that ripped through the ground with a massive flash of dark light. The Rangers leapt over the shockwave and moved in.
Strata armed her bow and fired a flurry of arrows at Silver Rider. The Rider knocked each of the arrows away with his saber, which distracted him while Strata moved in and fired a blast at point blank range.
“Arrow shock wave!” she shouted as she snapped off an energized arrow that exploded in a cyclone of energy.
Chronos tossed his triton towards Green Rider and pinned the villain down by the tail while extending his hands and shouting “Time Flares!”
Several flares of energy launched from the Yellow Ranger and exploded all around the Green Rider.
Halo parried a blow from Crimson Rider’s whip as he charged his sword with pale-green light energy. “Lightning Bolt Strike!” he shouted while firing a stream of energy that devoured the Crimson Rider.
Wildfire and Kiba Ranger charged towards Black Rider.
“Heaven Roaring Star, Sound bite!” Kiba Ranger shouted while emitting a sound vibration pulse that caused the Rider to collapse to his knees.
Wildfire connected his two sabers together as the blades energized with fiery power. “Armor of Wildfire…flare up now!”
Wildfire swung his blade, emitting a massive energy blade that cut through Black Rider while exploding in a massive eruption of flames.
The remains of the Dark Riders turned into cyclones of energy and swirled to a cliff behind the Rangers. The cyclones unwound, and the Dark Riders reappeared.
Hardrock ran towards Azrael while twirling his staff. The demon stood in a relaxed defensive pose. “Come now, Rocky…could you really hurt this face?”
“As much fun as I’ve had with this sick little game of yours,” Hardrock said, “I’m taking you down…”
Azrael snapped off a volley of energy daggers that Hardrock batted away before energizing his staff and shouting “Iron Rock Crusher!” while bringing his weapon down towards Azrael’s head. The resulting explosion enveloped the two and kicked up debris everywhere.
With Azrael destroyed, the Dark Riders vaporized.
Hardrock walked through the fires of the explosion as he powered down his armor to standard form and collapsed to the ground.
The Rangers gathered around him.
“He’s suffering from energy exhaustion,” Kirin Ranger said.
“Let’s get him back to the Command Chamber,” Dragon Ranger said.
Rocky’s vision slowly blurred back into focus as he saw Billy standing over him.
“What…what happened?” Rocky asked.
“Your body was exhausted from your battles with Draklith and Azrael,” Billy said.
“Is she…gone now?” Rocky asked weakly.
Billy nodded. “Her Dark Riders too.”
Rocky expected to find some sort of satisfaction from the deaths of Draklith and Azrael, thinking his pain would leave with their lives. He was wrong.
Zedd stared down at the Earth below from his balcony. It was down to him and the Rangers. That suited him just fine…but he needed a plan.
An idea struck him as his thoughts drifted to the Phoenix Ranger. “Of course! Why didn’t I sense it before!”
Zedd’s evil laughter echoed through the empty halls of his palace.
To be continued…Chapter 19