Shadows of Evil: Chapter Nineteen

Calm Before the Storm

 

Tommy sat alone at Bear Lake and tossed stones into the pond. He knew the final battle with Zedd was coming. He knew he’d have to take his powers to the next level. He had learned from the Shadow Ranger that courage and virtue wasn’t absence of fear and anger, it was mastery of it, and yet he still had his doubts. He doubted his ability to master the raging power inside of him. Nightmare had been kind enough to point this out to him.

 

What would Kimberly think about him if he lost control? Nightmare showed him this too.

 

“Tommy!” Simon shouted as he ran over to the ranger.

 

“Hey pal,” Tommy said quietly. “How was practice?”

 

“Awesome,” Simon said. “We had two new students enrolled today I got to show around. Justin and Rachel. They’re pretty cool. Justin is studying Koppouken, and Rachel is studying Shiranui. You should see her, she’s great…”

 

“Looks like you have your first crush,” Tommy said.

 

Simon blushed. “Nah.”

 

Simon continued to talk, further reminding Tommy of himself when younger.

 

***

 

Eight-year-old Tommy was pushed to the ground. Three bullies behind him laughed.

 

“Come on little Oliver, get up,” the lead bully, Bulk, said as the kids laughed some more.

 

Tommy rose from the ground and yelled in anger as he launched himself at Bulk. Bulk’s fist slammed against Tommy’s face and knocked the boy back onto the ground.

 

“Pathetic.” Bulk and the other kids that had gathered to watch started to walk away.

 

A girl Tommy’s age bent down towards him. “Are you ok?”

 

“Does it look like it?” Tommy snapped back as he rose to the ground.

 

“Tommy…” Shannon started to say.

 

“I’ll be fine,” Tommy said as he walked away quickly, not wanting her to see the tear on his face.

 

A man walked up to Tommy. He had long, dark hair and a dark trench-coat. “Are you all right, little one? Those boys seemed to have roughed you up a bit.”

 

Tommy turned and shrugged at the man. “I’ll live.”

 

“It’s okay to be hurt, Tommy. It builds strength,” the man said.

 

“I don’t have strength,” Tommy said. “Look at me. I’m a shrimp.”

 

“It is your inner strength that matters, Tommy. I learned the same lesson when I was your age. I met someone who taught me the true meaning of strength. The true meaning of virtue and courage. Those bullies are cowards, Tommy. With proper training, you could rival them in every way.”

 

Tommy shrugged. “I don’t wanna hurt them, I just…”

 

“Want to be able to stand up to them. You want to know that you could defend yourself if you could,” the man said as he nodded and smiled. “There’s a small school in Little Japan. The Hayate Way. It could teach you. Have your parents take you for a look some day.”

 

Tommy nodded.

 

“It was nice meeting you, Tommy,” the Dark Man said as he walked away.

 

***

 

Tommy was in his first karate uniform and carried a bag slung over his shoulder as he slowly walked through the grass towards the Hayate Way. He looked in awe as he saw several dozen students sparring in the court yards.

 

Sensei Mugensai walked over towards him. “You must be Tommy…”

 

Tommy nodded. “In the flesh.”

 

The sensei grinned. “I sense a great fire within you, Tommy. Do you wish to learn the ways of the Hakkyokuseiken?”

 

Tommy wrinkled his brow. “Haka whata?”

 

Sensei grinned. “I’ll show you.”

 

***

 

As Tommy walked closer towards the school with Sensei, a strange man watched from the cover of the woods. It was Kaku. He watched young Tommy with a sense of fear and hoped the boy would not follow in his father’s footsteps. He also had a fear of the impending war the young one would inevitably be tossed into, whether Kaku and Zordon wanted it or not.

 

***

 

Thirteen-year-old Tommy circled around his opponent in the courtyard of the Hayate Way School. It was the annual tournament between the Hayate Way and the Ikkazuchi Way. The competition dated back to the schools’ origin in Japan. Tommy was facing another 13-year-old he would know later in life, Adam Park, of the Ikkazuchi Way.

 

The two boys fought, and Tommy was defeated. Adam walked away with a stone cold look on his face.

 

Following the tournament, Tommy was walking angrily through the woods. “Stupid Ikkazuchi Way, what kind of…argh!” he spin kicked a branch.

 

“Tommy,” Sensei Mugensai called out.

 

“I’m sorry sensei,” Tommy said. “I’ve never been beaten before. He was just…I’ve never been beaten. I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t be sorry, young Falcon,” Sensei said. “I’m proud of you.”

 

“Sensei, sir, with all due respect, that’s the craziest thing you’ve ever said…sir.”

 

Sensei smiled. “You learned an important lesson today. A lesson only failure can teach.”

 

“What lesson?” Tommy asked. “He was better than me. I got beat! Beat!”

 

Thus is your lesson,” Sensei said. “No matter how good you are, there is always someone better.”

 

“What kind of lesson is that?” Tommy said.

 

“An important one,” Sensei said. “Never become so confident that it clouds your abilities.”

 

“So basically you’re saying I’m too cocky,” Tommy said.

 

“Is that what you believe?” Sensei asked.

 

“Sensei, you ask too many questions,” Tommy said.

 

Sensei raised an eyebrow.

 

“Just kidding,” Tommy said as he raised his hands defensively.

 

Tommy and Sensei talked some more, then Tommy wandered further in the woods, vowing too become a better fighter. Vowing to improve his skills. Martial Arts had become his niche. The one thing he was good at. The one thing he had to be the best at.

 

***

 

Rocky kneeled at Karen’s grave. “I hope you can rest easier now,” he said as he ran his hand along Karen’s grave stone. Rocky took a moment to reflect on how his life had become so messed up.

 

***

 

16-year-old Rocky spin kicked his opponent onto the ground.

 

Rocky raised his hands in victory as he stood on the sparring mat in his school’s dojo.

 

“How about that, sensei?” Rocky asked as he stepped off the mat. “I’m on a roll today.”

 

“Well you had best stay on a roll,” Sensei Higashi said. “The tournament in Angel Grove Central tomorrow is essential. It could really put our school on the map. You’ll need to be at your best.”

 

It was Sensei’s zest for competing and recognition that had caused his expulsion from the Hayate Way school ten years prior.

 

“We’ll be on the map alright,” Rocky said with a smug grin. “Just wait and see.”

 

***

 

Rocky walked along the streets alone at night while shaking his head. “‘We’ll be on the map alright?’ Who am I kidding?” he said to himself. “It’s not like I can single handedly win this thing.”

 

He heard a girl scream from a nearby alley and took a peak. She was being mugged.

 

“Hey!” Rocky yelled. The muggers turned to face him. “Don’t you guys know it's dangerous to be out alone at night? You could all get mugged or something.”

 

The lead mugger shook his head. “Take care of that clown.”

 

The muggers started swinging at Rocky and trying to grab him, but he evaded. “You guys wanna dance, huh? Ok…let’s dance.”

 

Rocky counterattacked with a few well placed tornado kicks and strikes. The muggers ran off and Rocky extended his hand to help the girl up.

 

“Thanks,” she said.

 

Rocky shrugged. “It’s what I do.”

 

After walking the girl to a taxi, Rocky continued his walk home.

 

A man in a brown kimono and headband walked up behind the teen. “May I have a moment of your time, Rocky?”

 

Rocky turned to face the man. “Who are you? How do you know my name? And…what are you wearing.”

 

“My name is Master Kaku,” he said.

 

“Master, huh?” Rocky said as he shook his head. “I don’t have time for this, pal. Why don’t you go…buy some real clothes or something.”

 

Rocky turned and took a step back in shock as Kaku was in front of him. “What the…what…jesus man that’s freaky.”

 

“You have an important destiny you’re unaware of, Rocky,” Kaku said. “You are destined to fight the Gorma.”

 

Riiiiight. Yeah well, I’m going to go. See ya around,” Rocky turned and walked away as he mumbled. “Ya freakshow.”

 

“Hear me out,” Kaku said.

 

Rocky sighed and turned around. “Alright…but only because I’m not in a hurry to get home. My mom’s still ticked at me for this incident involving a misplaced kick and an alleged family heirloom.”

 

“6,000 years ago,” Kaku said. “The Gorma were the military arm of the Daos civilization in what you know as China. They were corrupted by their dark Ki powers which they used to transform themselves into monsters. They attacked the civilization without mercy. They were a cancer that devoured nature. Slaughtered thousands.

 

“Now they have returned, and you must fight against them. Your Kiryoku is strong. You have the power, and with that comes a responsibility to use it against the Gorma.”

 

“I don’t so much have any power,” Rocky said.

 

Kaku extended his hand and blasted Rocky with an invisible Chi blast.

 

“What the?”

 

“That, was Kiryoku,” Kaku said. “Power you can use to fight the Gorma. To protect innocents, like the girl in that alley. You have the heart of a hero.”

 

Rocky stood and breathed deeply, staring at Kaku. “I know I’ll regret this later, but…show me.”

 

Kaku nodded. “Come with me.”

 

***

 

Adam sat in a meditative pose on a cliff. He tried to clear his mind of recent events, of their battle with Zedd, and of Kujaku. His obsession over her baffled him. Then again, he did always have a taste for the exotic. A taste for fantasy.

 

***

 

Eleven-year-old Adam sat at his family’s kitchen table doodling on his book cover. He drew a group of unicorns riding over a mountain, charging at a group of Org-type creatures.

 

His Dad entered the kitchen after returning home from work at the police station and filled up a cup of coffee.

 

“Studying?” his father asked him.

 

Adam shook his head. “No.”

 

Detective Park sighed as he took the book from the table and looked at it. “Adam, we’ve talked about this.”

 

“They’re just unicorns,” he said as he reached for his book, but his Dad kept it away.

 

“Adam, you spend all your time alone in this…fantasy world of yours. That’s not good for you,” he explained to his son.

 

Adam shook his head. “Sorry.”

 

“Sorry isn’t good enough,” Park said. “I’m going to have to take some of your books away. It’s the only way you’ll learn.”

 

Adam remained silent, knowing his protests would only worsen his punishment. Adam’s Dad started to walk towards his son’s room to confiscate the books.

 

“I thought they were supposed to teach you discipline at that Ikkazuchi Way school,” Adam heard his father mumble. “…have a talk with that sensei of yours.”

 

***

 

Thirteen-year-old Adam Park faced off with an opponent he would know later in life as Tommy Oliver.

 

It was Adam’s last match, as his father was taking him away from the Ikkazuchi school. Adam fought against Tommy and let all of the anger he was experiencing towards his father loose against his opponent.

 

After defeating Tommy, Adam walked off the mat with a stone-cold expression on his face.

 

***

 

Adam was walking home from his final match with his head hung low. He took a short cut through the gardens of Chinatown, finding the area peaceful and surreal, a perfect opportunity for Adam to forget his troubles.

 

A small object whirled through the air towards Adam, and he caught it. It was a small lantern. Adam turned to see who had thrown the lantern. An old Chinese man stood smiling within a shrine.

 

“Thought you could use a small gift,” the man said. “For cheering up.”

 

Adam arced an eyebrow. “Who are you?”

 

“Call me Mao,” he said. “I know a lot about you Adam…come inside.”

 

The man intrigued Adam. He entered Mao’s shrine.

 

***

 

Mao offered to continue Adam’s training. He also knew a frightening amount about the boy. His relationship with his father, how most kids in school viewed him as stuck up, when in reality, he was just quiet and shy.

 

Adam accepted Mao’s proposal.

 

Nearby, Kaku watched the exchange between Adam and Mao with an approving nod.

 

***

 

Billy sat in his office within the small building his INET company operated out of in Angel Grove Central. He was currently looking over the partnership proposal from Starr Enterprises, which was quite surreal, even for a Ranger.

 

Here he was, only a senior in high school, and he was working on negotiations with one of the largest multi-national corporations in existence. The possibilities were endless.

 

He flipped through the pages of the agreement and continued with his work, paying close attention to Starr’s NASA division.

 

“How cool would that be?” Billy asked himself. “Power Rangers in space…”

 

***

 

Kimberly sat in her apartment alone while flipping through her old photo album. A knock sounded on her door, and she went over to answer it. Her face lit up when she saw Jason.

 

“Jason!” she said as she gave him a hug. She didn’t see much of him, especially outside of the Command Chamber. The two had established a brother/sister relationship during their time on Zordon’s original team. It seemed like a whole lifetime ago.

 

“What brings you here?” she asked as they went into the living room. “What’s new with you guys?”

 

By “you guys,” she meant Jason’s Ninja team.

 

Jason smiled and shrugged. “More of the same. Looking forward to graduation in a couple months.”

 

Kimberly nodded. “Me too…I’ve been looking at a certain college that would be great for me. Only problem is…it’s in Florida…”

 

“Florida?” Jason asked. “That’s the other side of the country…”

 

Kimberly nodded. “I know. I haven’t told Tommy yet. Don’t want to until I’m sure.”

 

Jason nodded. “He’ll understand. He wants what’s best for you…”

 

“I know,” she said with a smile. “Thanks, Jason.”

 

He shrugged. “Don’t mention it.”

 

***

 

Tommy was walking home when he was suddenly surrounded by white light.

 

“This whole light thing is really getting old,” Tommy said to the one he referred to as the Dark Man.

 

“I sort of like it,” the Dark Man said. “Although it did take some getting used to.”

 

“I can imagine,” Tommy said. “What is it this time?”

 

“Your final battle with Zedd is about to begin. Start asking yourself how far you’re willing to go to defeat him,” the Dark Man said.

 

“Why’s that?” Tommy asked.

 

“Because someone’s life depends on it…”

 

To be continued…Chapter 20