Shadows of Evil: Chapter Twenty

Zedd Descends

 

Legends told of a nearly omnipotent entity known as the Phoenix Force that feasted upon the stars themselves near the dawning of time and space. The entity was neither good nor evil; it simply was. It was a creature with the power to create. A creature with the power to destroy.

 

Many civilizations across the universe came to worship the Phoenix Force as their goddess, even on Earth.

 

Sometime shortly after time began, a powerful being imprisoned the Phoenix Force into a large red ruby called the Emcron Crystal. In order to contain the Phoenix, the ruby was actually a seal for a pocket dimension that spanned for infinity.

 

The Emcron Crystal was rumored to be guarded by an elite underground society known as the Knights of the Phoenix.

 

Lord Zedd had a knack for tracking down artifacts of great power. He learned that the lead knight of the Phoenix was a native of the planet Yislan. The kings of that world were each given reign over the secret society.

 

The Knights of the Phoenix would be a powerful foe for Zedd to face in order to rest control of the ruby. Luckily, Zedd had plans for summoning a powerful ally.

 

“First things first,” Zedd said to himself as he scanned the Earth below with his visor. “Isn’t that right, Kimberly…”

 

***

 

Tommy and Kimberly lied next to each on the grassy hills of the state park as the trees above opened for a view of the clear blue sky. Kimberly curled up next to Tommy as he kissed her on the forehead.

 

“This is nice…” she said. “Too bad we can’t just stay here.”

 

Tommy smiled. “I suppose I could fashion some kind of cabin.”

 

Kimberly giggled. “Riiiiiight.”

 

Tommy smiled sheepishly. “Hey, I’ve always wanted to live out in the woods, in a nice cabin or something.”

 

Kimberly nodded. “I’ve always liked the city too much.”

 

Their communicators went off as a chill crept down Tommy’s spine.

 

“This is it,” he said.

 

***

 

Zedd had sent all his remaining Wolfmen to six different locations. Since there was no way the warlord could control them all at once, their attack pattern was chaotic and deadly.

 

Tommy ran to the theater district as the Wolfmen tore through an outside patio near an array of city fountains.

 

He flipped forward through the air and flying sidekicked a wolf in the chest. He spun around while shouting “Aura Power!” and morphing into his armor while slamming a punch against a wolf’s face.

 

Dragon Ranger turned to his left and hook kicked a wolf across the skull.

 

***

 

Adam flipped off an overhang looking down upon the financial district as Zedd’s wolves attacked everything that moved.

 

“Chakra ignite!” he shouted as his green armor energized, and he drop kicked a wolf soldier away from a businessman.

 

***

 

Rocky ran towards a large art display of twisted metal that sat between two skyscrapers as the Wolfmen caused panic.

 

“Aura Power!” Rocky shouted as he jumped through the air, his blue armor covering his body.

 

“Tenma Screw kick!” he shouted as he screw kicked a wolf backward.

 

***

 

A squad of wolves was causing panic by the stone entryway and statues of Grant Park as Billy ran forward, hopping off of a parked vehicle and shouting “Aura Power!”

 

Kirin Ranger drop kicked a wolf before slamming a backfist blow across the creature’s snout.

 

***

 

Kiba Ranger ran across the patio outside the Angel Grove museum as he spun forward and struck a wolf across the chest horizontally with Byakko.

 

***

 

Kimberly flipped forward towards a pack of wolves near an outdoor garden area in the city while bringing her heel smashing down against a soldier’s snout.

 

“Chakra ignite!” she shouted as she rolled forward while transforming into her armor. She rolled up while snapping an outer crescent kick across a wolf’s face.

 

She turned to her right and slammed her elbow against a wolf’s chest before turning to her left and smashing a knife-hand strike against another soldier.

 

A bolt of purple-blue lightning struck the ground in front of her, frying a few Wolfmen in the process as Lord Zedd stepped forward from the blast, his body crackling with energy.

 

“Hello, little Pink Ranger,” Zedd said as he extended his left hand and fired jagged tentacles of energy that wrapped around Phoenix Ranger’s arms and legs.

 

She struggled against the bindings as Zedd felt, not only One Power inside of her, but a dormant connection to the Power Cosmic.

 

“Excellent,” Zedd said as he sent energy pulses through his lightning tentacles that exploded against Phoenix Ranger’s armor.

 

Phoenix Ranger fell backward and quickly rose back to her knees. “Heaven Wind Star, straight-line whirlwind destruction!” she shouted as she extended her hands and launched a stream of whirling pink energy.

 

Zedd held his staff in front of him and twirled it like a helicopter propeller as Phoenix Ranger’s blast slammed against the warlord’s weapon and was dispersed.

 

Zedd tossed his staff as it buzzed through the air, gathering crimson energy as it cut across Phoenix Ranger’s chest and knocked her to the ground once more.

 

Zedd’s staff returned to his hand as he extended it towards Phoenix Ranger and fired strands of energy that wrapped around her.

 

“Thanks for the dance, Pink Ranger,” Zedd said. “Now we’ll be going on a little trip.”

 

Purple lightning slammed across the ground around them as they teleported away in a flash of energy.

 

***

 

“He what?!” Tommy shouted within the Command Chamber after he and the others took out the remaining Wolfmen. “Where did he take her?”

 

“They’re not exactly hiding,” Billy said as he looked over a console display. “They’re in the mountains outside the city. Kimberly’s okay…but unconscious.”

 

Tommy rolled his hands into fists as his face turned red with anger. “Let’s go.”

 

“Be on guard, Rangers,” Zordon warned. “Zedd is up to something…”

 

“He always is…” Tommy said as he wrinkled his brow.

 

***

 

The five Rangers ran to the foot of the cliff where Kimberly was tied to an ornate post with demonic engravings.

 

“Let her go now, Zedd!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he armed his Twin Dragon Swords.

 

“Come now, Tommy…” Zedd said. “Is that any way to talk to an old friend?”

 

“Hey chrome-face!” Tenma Ranger shouted. “What kind of wus hides behind a girl?”

 

“You misunderstand, Tenma Ranger,” Lord Zedd said. “I’m not hiding behind her or keeping her for one of those simple hostage exchange ploys…I’m using her. Your precious Pink Ranger has a natural connection with the cosmic powers that permeate the universe. This connection has many uses…one of which you’re about to see…”

 

Zedd extended his staff over Kimberly’s head as it flashed red.

 

“No!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he leapt through the air towards Zedd. Lion, Tenma, Kirin, and Kiba Rangers were quick to follow.

 

Zedd extended his other hand and fired a pulse of jagged crimson-tinted energy that crashed against the five Rangers and exploded against their armor. The Rangers fell to the ground as smoke rose from their armor as a result of the explosions.

 

Zedd’s staff pulsed brighter as the clouds above turned dark, and red lightning scorched the skies.

 

Dragon Ranger slowly rose to his knees. “Let’s try that one more time. Adam, Rocky, take his flank. Teddy, and Billy, hit him with long-range attacks while I go up the center.”

 

“Got it,” Lion Ranger said as he armed his Lion Staff.

 

Lord Zedd slammed his staff to the ground as it shot a bolt of lightning into the sky, parallel to a bolt of lightning from the column Kimberly was tied to.

 

Streams of energy shot down from the skies and tore up the ground around the Rangers as massive explosions tossed flame and debris in every direction.

 

A massive shadow crept over the mountainside as the large black dragon known as Daijinnryu descended from the skies.

 

Zedd laughed as he looked to Kimberly and ran his metallic fingers across her cheek. “Our ride is here…”

 

Zedd and Kimberly were gathered together in a bolt of crimson energy that shot into the black dragon’s head as it swooped across the skies.

 

The Rangers regrouped on the ash-filled ground as they stared up at the black dragon.

 

“No!” Dragon Ranger shouted. He looked to his team. “Zords…”

 

They raised their sabers into the sky. “Thunderzords, arise!”

 

All seven Thunderzords appeared, and the Rangers jumped into their cockpits.

 

“Thunder-star Fusion!” Dragon Ranger shouted as the core five zords combined.

 

“MegaThunderzord, ChoiDairenou!” they shouted from their cockpit as the Megazord swooped towards the massive black dragon like a gnat attacking a cougar.

 

“White Tiger, rise up!” Kiba Ranger shouted as his zord assumed warrior mode and hopped onto the back of the Shadow Dragon, riding the dark zord besides the MegaThunderzord.

 

Daijinnryu angled upward as it started to leave the Earth’s atmosphere. The MegaThunderzord traveled along the massive beast’s neck while firing several volleys of Kirin Flares and pouring pulses of gravimetric energy from the Tenma arm.

 

Shadow Dragon launched a stream of dark flame as the White Tiger fired several thunderbolts. Their blasts had no effect.

 

Black energy danced across Daijinnryu as space seemed to fold across the creature.

 

“He’s folding reality to travel across hyperspace,” Kirin Ranger said. “We have to back away.”

 

“No…” Dragon Ranger said as he shook his head. “We’re not letting him get away with Kimberly. We follow.”

 

“Tommy,” Kirin Ranger warned. “If we get caught in the wake of the fold, there’s no telling where we’ll end up.”

 

It was too late. Lines of black energy danced across Daijinnryu and slammed into the group of Thunderzords. The black dragon and zords radiated with dark energy before vanishing.

 

***

 

Yislan was a world of kings and nobles. Decorate castles lined the grassy hills, and each stone wall was embedded with an intricate hologram that made the castles flow as if they were alive and luminous.

 

A young woman with short red hair stood on a balcony of the castle and looked up at the sky, sensing a foreboding presence approaching. She had a slight knack for sensing such things through the magick.

 

She wore a tight-fitting red body suit covered by a loose black vest and skirt. She wore a dagger on her left forearm and a short sword across her back. Her eyes were sea-blue, and her face had sharp and powerful features.

 

Her maid slowly approached her from behind. “Lexzia, please come inside…your father will be quite displeased if you catch a cold.”

 

“Go inside, servant, and leave me be,” she said without taking her gaze from the sky. “Something approaches…”

 

A dark shadow slowly covered Yislan’s sun as the black dragon Daijinnryu descended from the sky.

 

Soldiers below scurried to their posts as alarms started to blare throughout the castle. Lexzia knew their efforts were futile. Even though they were no strangers to war, they were never faced with a threat the size of Daijinnryu.

 

The guardsmen were armed with black leather and silver armor plating, and their weapons were gauntlets with red stones at the palm, capable of emitting energy pulses.

 

Several larger cannons were positioned from the castle walls.

 

Lexzia knew the guards wouldn’t last long. She also knew what the strange warlord inside Daijinnryu wanted: the Emcron Crystal.

 

Her father would never allow the crystal to be carried off planet, but Lexzia knew that was what needed to happen. It was the only way to keep the crystal safe.

 

She readied her dagger and left the balcony to commit the ultimate theft from her father.

 

***

 

Cannons blazed superheated destruction upon the giant dragon as it continued to slither through the clouds. Bolts of plasma and various energy blasts bounced harmlessly across the dragon’s armor as yellow, jagged energy danced across its armor.

 

The energy collected between the jaws of the dragon as it opened its mouth wide and fired a pulse of electric energy that bore through the castle, superheating rock and stone as debris flew in every direction and the energy beam bore through layers upon layers of the planet’s crust.

 

The energy pulse exploded, creating a shockwave of fire that enveloped the entire castle in mere seconds.

 

Zedd laughed to himself as he stood upon Daijinnryu. The dark creature was truly powerful, but he needed more…

 

***

 

Tommy slowly rose from the ground and found himself face down on a pile of lush green grass. He slowly rose to his feet and saw massive hills as far as the eyes could see. The sun above was covered by sheets of dark clouds as lightning scorched the skies.

 

He looked around to see the rest of his team slowly awaken and pull themselves up.

 

“Jesus…” Rocky said as he rubbed the back of his head. “Haven’t hurt this bad since Zydos used my head for a drum…”

 

“That never happened,” Adam said.

 

Rocky shrugged. “Close enough…”

 

Teddy walked over to Tommy as he ran his hand through the back of his hair. “Umm…where exactly are we, big brother?”

 

Tommy shook his head. “I don’t know…doesn’t look like Angel Grove…”

 

Billy shook his head nearby. “I highly doubt this is even Earth.”

 

“Whoa,” Teddy said. “you mean we’re on a different planet?”

 

Adam looked off in the distance with a look of concern as he pointed a sight out to the others. “Look over there…”

 

The teens turned to see what looked like a castle structure in the far off distance being consumed by smoke and flame.

 

“Let’s go,” Tommy said as they headed in that direction.

 

***

 

The five teens walked through the smoky, war-torn streets that remained of Yislan’s capital.

 

“What happened here?” Adam asked as he shook his head in disbelief.

 

“Zedd and his new toy,” Tommy said as he rolled his hands up into fists.

 

“I don’t get it,” Rocky said. “He’s been trying to destroy our city for more than a year…why come out here? And why take Kimberly? Doesn’t make much sense, even for a lunatic.”

 

Billy nodded. “Maybe he was looking for something…”

 

“Well,” Tommy said, “let’s see if anyone around here is still alive. We need answers, and fast.”

 

Small explosions suddenly sparked around the teens as they leapt for cover.

 

Two monsters dropped to the ground from above and glared at the five Rangers. The first monster had a skull of metal, and his muscular body was made of blue flames and chains wrapped around his chest and arms. He had black slacks covered with silver pieces of metal armor.

 

The other villain resembled a demonic samurai warrior with a broad katana blade and purple skin.

 

The Dark Samurai held his sword in an en guard position. “The master told us you would come…”

 

The Fire Skull readied his chain of flames. “Our Lord Zedd doesn’t like to be followed.”

 

Tommy and the others snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Looks like some of Zedd’s leftovers,” Tommy said as he and the others readied their braces. “Let’s take care of business…it’s morphin time!”

 

“Chakra ignite, Aura/Kiba power!”

 

Energy shimmered around them as they transformed into their armor.

 

Dark Samurai slammed his sword to the ground, producing an energy blade that tore through the ground towards the Rangers.

 

The Rangers leapt off the ground just as the blade exploded beneath them. While the Rangers were in midair, Fire Skull lashed out with chains that wrapped around Kirin Ranger and Kiba Ranger’s legs. He pulled the two Rangers back and swung them against a crumbled wall before pulling them again and slamming them against a pillar.

 

Lion Ranger leapt towards Fire Skull while arming his Thunder Sword and Star Cutter. “Thunderbolt cut!” he shouted as his two blades energized and cut through the chain.

 

Lion Ranger turned to face Fire Skull and shouted “Hand of Fate!” as he extended his fist and blasted the creature with an energy pulse of pale-green light.

 

Dragon Ranger and Tenma Ranger ran side by side towards Dark Samurai. Tenma Ranger hurled his two nunchuku towards the monster, and they whirled through the air like small propellers.

 

The Dark Samurai knocked the weapons away, but they distracted him long enough for Dragon Ranger to move in.

 

“Burn Knuckle!” he shouted as he slammed a fiery fist against the Dark Samurai’s chest.

 

The monster was forced a few steps back as Tenma Ranger leapt off of Dragon Ranger’s shoulders and flipped towards the creature while arming his circular Star Blade. “Star Blade, Lightning Strike!”

 

The blade energized with a cyan hue as it sliced across the monster’s armor.

 

Kiba Ranger and Kirin Ranger ran alongside Lion Ranger as the three charged towards Fire Skull. The monster opened its iron jaw and fired a torrent of flame. The three Rangers leapt over the blast and struck.

 

“Kirin crash!” Kirin Ranger shouted as he slammed a flying tackle against the monster.

 

“Byakko!” Kiba Ranger shouted. “Hit ‘im!” He flipped forward while bringing his saber down vertically across the creature’s chest.

 

Lion Ranger extended his hands and shouted “Shining Fury!” as he hurled an energy sphere of pale-green light that exploded against the monster.

 

Lion Ranger landed and placed his hands in front of his chest as the lion eyes on his helmet flashed with energy. “Heaven Illusion Star, Mist Concealment Destruction!”

 

The Green Ranger extended his hands and fired a cloud of mist that concealed the monster. Lion Ranger projected an illusion of a giant T-Rex that bent over and bit the monster, holding the creature within its jaw while slamming it to the ground.

 

Small explosions danced across the monster’s body as he was thrown to the ground.

 

Kiba Ranger extended Byakko as Fire Skull slowly rose to his feet. “Sound Bite!” he shouted, firing a jagged pulse of sonic energy that tore through the monster, causing him to explode.

 

Dragon Ranger and Tenma Ranger surrounded the Dark Samurai as the animal eyes on their helmets flashed.

 

“Heaven Gravity Star…” Tenma Ranger shouted. “Gravity Inversing destruction!”

 

He fired a jagged pulse of blue energy that surrounded the monster. The Ranger lifted the creature up with invisible energy tentacles and slammed him against a wall before suspending him in the air.

 

Dragon Ranger armed his Thunder Sword and Star Cutter. “Heaven Fire Star, Lightning Flames of Destruction!”

 

The Red Ranger extended his blades in an ‘x’ pattern as an electric stream of fire tore through Dark Samurai, and the monster exploded in mid air.

 

The five Rangers regrouped.

 

“This was probably just a distraction,” Dragon Ranger said. “Zedd knows we have no trouble with these two-bit clowns he cooks up.”

 

Tommy’s mind was suddenly pulled into the white void where the Dark Man spoke to him.

 

“You don’t know the half of it, Tommy…” the Dark Man said.

 

“What’s Zedd have planned for Kimberly?” Tommy asked. “And no games…just tell me.”

 

“She’s a very special girl, Tommy,” the Dark Man said. “You certainly know how to pick them…”

 

“Tell me,” Tommy said firmly.

 

“Kimberly has a natural connection to the Power Cosmic,” he explained. “This connection is of interest to Zedd. Along with her Kiryoku, the connection can be used for summoning creatures of terrible cosmic power, such as Daijinnryu. Kimberly’s connection also serves another purpose, one Zedd now pursues.

 

“He wants the Emcron Crystal,” The Dark Man continued. “The Emcron will allow Zedd to channel a mystical creature, more powerful than anything you can imagine, into Kimberly. This creature is known as the Phoenix Force.”

 

“The Phoenix…” Tommy whispered, thinking of Kimberly’s token animal. “Where’s the crystal?”

 

“I do not know,” the Dark Man said. “But if you don’t find it before Zedd does, he’s going to use that pretty girlfriend of yours to bring the entire universe crumbling to ashes.”

 

Dragon Ranger snapped back into reality as he shook his head to clear his mind.

 

“What’s wrong?” Lion Ranger asked.

 

“Zedd,” Dragon Ranger said. “I know what he wants. The Emcron Crystal…we have to find it before he does.”

 

***

 

Lexzia ran from her pursuers through the thick woods of the planet Avalon, a neighbor to Yislan with similar customs and peoples. She had traveled to the planet after stealing the Emcron Crystal from her father’s chambers.

 

The warrior princess detested running from enemies, but the ruby she carried in her pouch was too important to risk losing.

 

Zedd apparently still had connections with the galactic underworld, even after millions of years of imprisonment. He enlisted the help of four Verox Bounty Hunters, cybernetic creatures first created during Zordon’s first war with Zedd.

 

The Verox had tracked Lexzia from Yislan and shot her down over the atmosphere of Avalon.

 

Orange plasma discs streaked through the air from behind her, splintering through trees and impacting against soil. She armed her green-gemmed wrist brace and turned back, firing pulses of jade-colored energy towards the bounty hunters pursuing her.

 

Her blasts tore through one of the Verox’s chest as the others pressed forward. Lexzia used her dagger to clear the thick brush ahead of her as she ran on.

 

One of the bounty hunter’s plasma discs exploded beneath her feet, throwing her to the ground face first as she lost her balance.

 

The Verox gained on her and leapt through the air as they prepared to finish her off. They never had a chance.

 

An iron shield swirled through the air and smashed into one of the Verox, knocking the bounty hunter to the ground.

 

A stream of flame shot out from the trees and enveloped a second soldier, as a blur of motion shot out from the brush and clotheslined a third Verox.

 

A crimson energy pulse tore apart the last Verox as Lexzia looked up and smiled at her rescuers.

 

The lead man was dressed in a suit of silver armor with blue garments covering it. He had long blonde hair and a blonde goatee, as well as a blue and silver shield strung over his left arm. His name was St’vaan, and he was Capt. Avalon.

 

The man behind St’vaan was covered in a light suit of black armor, and his body was covered in flames. His name was Skorch.

 

The third member of the group was a woman dressed in intricate red robes of silk. She was known as Witchfire.

 

The fourth person was a man covered in blue robes, and his skin was pale blue with lines of wrinkles all along his face. His hair was as pure white as his empty eyes. His name was Swift.

 

They were the Avataars.

 

St’vaan,” Lexzia said as she placed her hand against his armor. “It’s good to see you again.”

 

Avalon removed her hand. “If your father knew you were here…”

 

“He’s dead,” she said as a look of vengeance crossed her face. “They came after the Crystal.”

 

She pulled the red ruby from her sack as Skorch turned his head and cursed in a language she was not familiar with.

 

St’vaan narrowed his eyes at Lexzia. “You’ve doomed us all…”

 

***

 

Zedd cursed his own luck.

 

He had summoned Daijinnryu so he could use the dark dragon’s power to level Yislan and take the Emcron Crystal with no opposition. But apparently, the princess managed to escape along with the crystal. Search and seizure operations weren’t exactly Daijinnryu’s specialty.

 

Zedd had enlisted the aide of a Verox group in a nearby sector to search for the Emcron Crystal, and they had tracked it to the planet Avalon.

 

Unfortunately, Avalon’s protectors intercepted the Verox patrol and destroyed them.

 

“The girl will most likely take shelter with them,” Zedd said to himself as he stood on top of Daijinnryu, and the giant dragon flew around Avalon’s orbit.

 

Zedd knew he needed to track down the girl and her protectors and eliminate them quickly.

 

“Those two walking jokes I created on Yislan won’t hold off the Rangers for long,” Zedd said. “The Crystal must be mine before they come.”

 

Zedd searched the planet’s surface below with his visor.

 

“The Crystal will be mine…” he said to himself over and over as he looked.

 

***

 

The Rangers returned to their zords and left the atmosphere of Yislan. Kirin Ranger believed he could use the MegaThunderzord to track Daijinnryu. He didn’t realize how difficult it would be.

 

“How’s it coming, Billy?” Dragon Ranger asked.

 

Kirin Ranger shook his head. “Not good…”

 

“I thought we’d be able to track Daijinnryu?” Lion Ranger asked.

 

“So did I,” Kirin Ranger said. “Originally…”

 

A flash of golden light suddenly enveloped the zords and disappeared as quickly as it came.

 

“What was that?” Tenma Ranger asked.

 

The zords shot off into the distance.

 

“They know…” Kirin Ranger said. “Something just told our zords where this Emcron Crystal is.”

 

***

 

Von Bludving slouched on his dark throne as he watched Lexzia join the Avataars. Bludving was an evil, immortal count that resided in the darkest regions of Avalon.

 

A flash of crimson energy interrupted his viewing as a red portal swirled open, and Lord Zedd stepped through.

 

“You…” the vampire-like creature hissed. “I thought Zordon killed you?”

 

Bludving had been a general of Zedd’s, ruling over Avalon while the galaxy was a part of the warlord’s Dark Dimension. That was before Zordon and the reemergence of the Rangers.

 

“He did not, you blood-sucking fool,” Zedd said as he stepped forward. Bludving cowered backwards in fear.

 

“What is it you want here?”

 

“I’ve lost something,” Zedd said. “You’re going to help me find it.”

 

***

 

Daijinnryu loomed over Avalon’s capital, casting a grim shadow on the people below as the skies turned dark.

 

Capt. Avalon looked out his tower balcony window at the creature as a cold chill crept over his body.

 

“Come,” Avalon said as he started to walk out of his chambers alongside his teammates and Lexzia. “We’ll get the Crystal to safety…”

 

***

 

Daijinnryu crackled with yellow lightning as he opened his jaws and fired a torrent of energy that exploded against the capital city, superheating the air for miles as explosions and shockwaves ravaged the once beautiful fortress.

 

***

 

The Avataars and Lexzia ran through the woods as the smoke from the decimated city caught up to them.

 

“Our home…” the purple-robed archer known as Blackthorn said sorrowfully.

 

“Don’t look back,” Avalon said. “This crystal is more important…”

 

Pale, scaly creatures leapt from the smoke and pounced on the Avataars.

 

Blackthorn snapped off an arrow that shot through one of the creature’s chest as Avalon used his shield to smash one from the air.

 

Bludving,” Avalon said through clenched teeth.

 

Lexzia drew her daggers and spun forward while slicing open a creature’s gut.

 

Bludving then pounced out from the shadows and sprinted towards the warrior princess as his green pet Scorpos followed besides him. Scorpos was covered in green alligator-type hide and had a long spiked tail grown from his back.

 

A group of Bludving’s companions accompanied him on the assault. A warrior surrounded by a living tornado named Ill Wind, a savage muscle-bound fighter known as Savagri, and a swordsman named Black Blade rushed towards the Avataars.

 

Scorpos snapped out with his tail and whacked Lexzia to the ground as the Emcron Crystal flew from her grasp.

 

A blur of motion flipped through the air and grabbed the crystal. The figure landed between the Avataars and Bludving’s forces. It was Dragon Ranger.

 

His teammates rushed to his side as they faced off against Bludving’s men.

 

“It’s not nice to take things that don’t belong to you,” Tenma Ranger said.

 

“Let’s teach ‘em a lesson,” Kiba Ranger added.

 

Dragon Ranger couldn’t help but smile underneath his helmet at his brother.

 

Bludving unsheathed his sword and pointed it forward. “Kill the Rangers and the Avataars, then bring the Emcron to me!”

 

“Rangers?” Lexzia asked as she raised an eyebrow with surprise. “Here?”

 

Ill Wind shot forward within his living tornado as Kirin Ranger leapt over him. The Yellow Ranger landed on the ground behind the villain as he placed his hands together in front of his chest.

 

“Time Strike!” Kirin Ranger shouted as time slowed drastically around Ill Wind.

 

Kirin Ranger could see the villain’s frail body as he dashed forward and kicked Ill Wind out of the air.

 

Avalon tossed his shield towards Scorpos, but the beast knocked the disc away with his tail before snapping its end towards the Avataar’s leader. Swift reacted in a blur of motion as he pushed Avalon out of harm’s way.

 

Lion Ranger leapt forward and slammed the end of his staff against Scorpos’s forehead. The creature was forced back a few steps as Blackthorn fired a volley of arrows that pierced through the beast’s armor.

 

Scorpos howled in pain as he pounced towards Blackthorn.

 

Witchfire extended her hand and fired a hex blast that slammed Scorpos to the ground. The creature quickly rose to its feet as Tenma Ranger ran in. “Tenma Flash Kick!” he shouted as he slammed a volley of energized tornado kicks across the beast’s head.

 

Kiba Ranger moved in towards Savagri while holding his Tiger Saber at the ready. The savage swung an axe towards Kiba Ranger’s head, but the White Ranger parried the blow before striking the villain diagonally across his chest armor.

 

Dragon Ranger used his Thunder Sword in his right hand to duel with Bludving as he held the crystal in his left hand. Dragon Ranger’s skills were far superior, and he held the villain off with ease.

 

“Not looking too good for the bad guys,” Dragon Ranger said as he parried a blow while stepping forward and slamming a sidekick against the vampire.

 

Streaks of purple lightning suddenly shot down from the skies and blasted back everyone in the area as fires started to burn the surrounding foliage.

 

Lord Zedd stepped from one of the lightning bolts as he walked towards the Rangers with his hand extended. “Hand over the Crystal, or Kimberly dies…”

 

Dragon Ranger resisted the urge to lash out at the villain. “You wouldn’t Zedd…you need her…”

 

Zedd tilted his head back and laughed. “Oh come now, Tommy…are you really going to take that chance and risk losing your precious Pink Ranger?”

 

Dragon Ranger tightened his grip on the Emcron Crystal. He couldn’t let Zedd get the ruby, but Kimberly was everything to him. He couldn’t lose her.

 

“How do I know you’ll honor your end of the deal?” Dragon Ranger asked.

 

Zedd breathed a sigh of irritation as he tightened his grip on his staff. “You know…I don’t have time for this…”

 

Zedd extended his staff, and it pulsed with crimson energy as explosions sparked across the Rangers’ armor and they fell to the ground.

 

Zedd slammed the end of his staff against the earth below him and summoned bolts of purple lightning from the sky that exploded around the Rangers. The Emcron Crystal was blasted from Dragon Ranger’s hand and streaked through the air.

 

Swift moved forward at super-sonic speeds and grabbed the Crystal from the air, but Zedd extended his left hand and fired pale-blue energy tentacles that wrapped around the Avataar and swung him through several tree trunks. Zedd released his grasp and let the bruised and battered warrior skid across the ground as the Crystal flew free.

 

Lexzia leapt against a tree trunk and bounced towards the Crystal while flipping through the air.

 

Zedd extended his staff and fired pulses of jagged energy that ripped through her body as she screamed and fell to the ground, smoke rising from her burnt skin.

 

“No!” Capt. Avalon shouted as he ran forward and held Lexzia in his arms.

 

Lexzia gasped for breath as she looked into the eyes of St’vaan. She shivered with fear as she felt her life slowly drift away from her.

 

“No…” Avalon said as he shook his head.

 

She reached up and ran her hand across her face. “I…” her body went lip as her eyes rolled back to the sides of her head.

 

Capt. Avalon glared ahead at Zedd and the Rangers as they continued their battle. The warrior reached back and pulled on his helmet as he snapped his face shield shut and stood.

 

“Forward!” he shouted as his team assembled around him and charged towards the villain.

 

Zedd extended his staff and fired a pulse of electric energy that slammed the Avataars backwards as the Rangers moved in to attack.

 

Zedd slammed his staff to the ground as the tree branches started to pulse with energy and mutate. The branches shot towards the Rangers and bound them tightly while swinging them through the air and smashing them against the ground and each other.

 

Zedd laughed as he walked towards the fallen Emcron Crystal.

 

“Back off Zedd!” Dragon Ranger shouted. “…armor up!”

 

The Rangers activated their suits of power armor, creating an energy pulse that broke them free from the mutated branches.

 

Dragon Ranger, now in his Wildfire armor, unsheathed his two swords and dashed towards Zedd. Zedd held his staff down as it glowed, and a column of earth rose from beneath the warlord’s feet, elevating him above the Ranger’s reach along with the Emcron Crystal.

 

Wildfire leapt up to strike Zedd, but he fired a lightning burst that struck Wildfire from the air.

 

Zedd vanished in a cyclone of purple lightning.

 

Wildfire was struck in the back of the head by a shield. The Rangers turned to see the Avataars facing them.

 

“Leave this place at once!” Capt. Avalon shouted. “You’ve caused our people enough pain for one day…”

 

“Listen,” Kiba Ranger said. “We were trying to help you…”

 

“I will not ask again,” Avalon said as he readied his shield, Blackthorn cocked an arrow, Witchfire charged a hex blast, and Skorch ignited his flame

 

***

 

Zedd stood on top of Daijinnryu as he stared at the Emcron Crystal in his hand. “Excellent…” he said to himself. “Now back to Earth, to bend the Phoenix Force to my will.”

 

The Rangers would surely come after him, and creating any monsters to hold them off would be just as useless as last time.

 

Zedd looked over the black dragon he stood upon. “I no longer need you…”

 

Zedd was capable of traveling with Kimberly back to Earth without the dragon of death. He planned to leave Daijinnryu behind to tear apart the world of Avalon and keep the Rangers from ever returning to Earth.

 

***

 

The Rangers took a step back as the Avataars moved forward.

 

“Look…” Dragon Ranger started to say.

 

Before he could finish speaking, they all heard a thunderous roaring noise in the distance. It was Daijinnryu.

 

The giant dragon crackled with energy as it opened his jaws and launched a massive energy pulse that tore through the ground, creating a massive shockwave that started to crash across the entire hemisphere.

 

Ki!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he and the others created a ki force field to protect themselves and the Avataars from the blast. Flames tore through the woods as dirt and debris was kicked through the air.

 

The flames died down as the Rangers readied their swords and raised them into the air. “Thunderzords, arise!”

 

The seven Thunderzords appeared, dwarfed by the colossal black dragon as they charged towards Daijinnryu.

 

The Rangers entered their cockpits as Dragon Ranger shouted. “Thunder Star Fusion!”

 

The main five zords combined into one winged warrior as the Rangers gathered in the central cockpit.

 

“MegaThunderzord, ChoiDairenou!” they shouted.

 

“White Tiger, rise up!” Kiba Ranger shouted as he inserted Byakko into his forward console and the Tigerzord assumed its warrior mode.

 

The White Tiger hopped onto the back of the Shadow Dragon while swooping towards Daijinnryu alongside the MegaThunderzord.

 

“Tommy…” Tenma Ranger said. “We’ve never even been able to put a dent into that thing.”

 

“There’s a first time for everything,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

The MegaThunderzord circled around the black dragon like a small insect while launching Kirin flares and gravity pulses.

 

The Shadow Dragon launched a torrent of black fire as the White Tiger hurled Thunderbolts at the dragon.

 

“MegaThunderzord…” Dragon Ranger said as he and the others readied their Thunder Gems. “Armor up!”

 

The MegaThunderzord crackled with cyan colored energy as blue-trimmed silver armor surrounded its body and a large sword appeared in hand. “MegaThunderzord, Paladin mode!” the Rangers shouted from their cockpit.

 

Daijinnryu fired a massive energy pulse that the Paladin dodged while swooping towards the black dragon.

 

“Star Saber, Divine Justice!” The Rangers shouted as the Megazord’s blade energized. The Paladin flew across the creature’s back while cutting against the dragon’s armor. The blade only caused minor damage before Daijinnryu reached out with its massive claws and grabbed hold of the Paladin. The black dragon tightened its grip as the Megazord’s armor started to snap.

 

“Damn, Byakko, what do we do?” Kiba Ranger said from his cockpit.

 

“Try fusing your zord with the Shadow Dragon,” Byakou said. “Then maybe you’ll have enough power to free the MegaThunderzord.”

 

“Right…let’s hope it will be just that easy,” Kiba Ranger said as he readied his Thunder Gem.

 

Dragon Ranger readied his shadow Thunder Gem.

 

“White Tigerzord…” Kiba Ranger called as his zord was enveloped with white energy and shot towards the sky like a comet.

 

“Shadow Dragonzord…” Dragon Ranger called as dark energy surrounded the Shadow Dragonzord, and the black zord shot towards the White Tiger like a dark streak across the sky.

 

“…armor merge to…”

 

Sharp, dark armor plating started to cover key areas of the Tigerzord as energy crackled and swirled around the two zords. A dark helmet covered the Tigerzord with a deep crimson visor. The dragon’s wings connected to the Tiger’s back, and the dragon’s head armor formed a gauntlet on the zord’s right hand.

 

“…Shadow Tigerzord!”

 

The Shadow Tiger extended its wrist gauntlet towards the claw of Daijinnryu that was holding the MegaThunderzord.

 

“Roaring Fire!” Kiba Ranger shouted as rings of sonic energy containing a stream of black flame poured from the gauntlet and struck the black dragon’s massive claw.

 

The dragon’s grasp was weakened enough for the MegaThunderzord to slip through.

 

“Aim for its head!” Dragon Ranger shouted as the Paladin streaked upward towards the black dragon’s head.

 

“Star Saber, Divine Justice!” they shouted as they energized their saber.

 

“Roaring fire!” Kiba Ranger shouted as the Shadow Tiger launched its sonic flame attack.

 

Daijinnryu opened its jaws and fired an electric energy pulse that slammed against the zords, severely damaging them as they crashed against the ground, separated, and the Rangers were thrown from their cockpits.

 

Dragon Ranger slowly rose to his feet as his Thunder Gem started flashing. He held the gem to his visor as the gem started flashing brighter.

 

“The Inferno armor…” Dragon Ranger said as he looked to his teammates. “Guys, I’m going to call on the Inferno.”

 

“What about Kimberly?” Tenma Ranger asked.

 

Kirin Ranger shook his head. “Her energy should still be able to reach you.”

 

“Alright then…let’s take care of business,” Dragon Ranger said. “To arms!”

 

The Rangers transformed into their armor.

 

Wildfire leapt into the sky towards Daijinnryu as he shouted “Armor of Inferno!”

 

The energy from the other Rangers’ armors streaked towards him as the Wildfire armor became the white and gold edged armor of Inferno.

 

Daijinnryu howled as Inferno streaked forward, a comet of energy forming around his armor.

 

The dragon launched an energy blast towards Inferno. The Ranger flew through the pulse as he intensified his own energy and unsheathed his swords, holding the blades crossed in front of him as he cut through the dragon’s attack.

 

“Rage…of…inferno!” Inferno shouted as his powers ignited. The Ranger’s body turned into a living body of white-hot energy as he speared between Daijinnryu’s eyes and punctured out through the back of the creature’s head.

 

The massive dragon howled in pain as every segment in his black body exploded, causing a massive shockwave that made the surface tremble.

 

Inferno fell to the ground in a smoky heap as the other Rangers ran to his side.

 

“Tommy!” Kiba Ranger shouted.

 

They made it to their leader just in time to see his Inferno armor shatter. Halo, Hardrock, and Chronos’ armor did the same as they fell to their knees.

 

Dragon Ranger’s body crackled with energy as he lied unmoving and not breathing.

 

To be continued…Chapter 21