Ultimate Gao Rangers: Chapter Nine

Hidden Allies

 

Gao Red’s shoulders hunched over as he tried to catch his breath. The cold rain splashed across his armor as a storm raged across Angel Grove’s night sky. The thunder echoed the anger inside of him.

 

Rubble from a nearby building laid across the streets around him. Most of the people inside the building never made it out alive. 

 

He tightened his grip on his dagger. The weapon dripped with the black ichor of his fallen opponent. The Red Ranger’s body was bruised and battered beneath his armor. He had not slept for two days.

 

Irony, he thought to himself. Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.

 

The irony is that I wanted this kind of life when I was younger, Gao Red thought to himself.

 

He never truly understood the violence involved. The pain. I think I liked it better when I had amnesia…and being a Ranger was just a dream…

 

Gao Red turned towards the fallen building as his heart sank. The people inside never stood a chance. If only he had moved faster.

 

The attack had started without warning in the heart of the storm. An Org shaped like an assembly of lightning rods had started the biggest rampage yet, blasting apart building by building.

 

Gao Red literally had to tear the monster apart to stop its carnage. 

 

***

 

Simon returned to the sky island Anamarium after the battle.

 

GaoLion was lying on a grassy field with his head resting on the ground. The beast’s breath was shallow due to his massive injury. An injury Simon had failed to prevent.

 

Simon sat on the grass next to his companion Power Animal. “Feeling any better?”

 

The lion purred gently, his pain burning across Simon like pricks of white-hot needles.

 

“I’m sorry…” Simon said. “Maybe if I was better at this…it seems the last few days have been one disaster after another.”

 

The Org were taking advantage of GaoLion’s injury by launching an onslaught of monster after monster. They were all worn out from not only battling the monsters, but from keeping Toxica away so the monsters could not grow giant.

 

She managed to slip through a few times, and the other Rangers’ Power Animals had defeated the giants after lengthy battles of massive destruction.

 

Simon heard footsteps walk up behind him. He turned his head slightly to see Saiya take a seat next to him.

 

“Have they updated the death toll?” Simon asked, not even bothering to say hello.

 

Saiya shook her head. “Not since an hour ago. It would have been worse if you hadn’t stopped it.”

 

Simon sighed and rolled his eyes. “It wouldn’t have been bad at all if I’d gotten their sooner. No one would have died. But instead…” Simon scoffed. “Instead all those people are gone and it’s my fault. It was my responsibility to protect them.”

 

Saiya laid a hand on his arm. “It’s our responsibility.”

 

Simon shook his head. “I’m the leader.” he sighed again. “A leader that can’t even keep his own zord from getting hurt.”

 

Simon laid himself down and placed his hand over his head. “When I had amnesia….it was weird because my memory was wiped, but at the same time…I was happy. My friends and my family were there. The biggest responsibility I had was school. And being a Ranger was just a dream of mine. It was like I was living in…”

 

“A bubble?” Saiya asked.

 

Simon nodded. “I guess that’s a good way of putting it.”

 

Saiya laid down next to him. “But you chose to leave that life behind.”

 

“I know,” Simon said. “But…at first it was a matter of making that choice. I didn’t even know if I wanted to fight. Now I’ve decided, and it turns out…I suck at it. So what am I supposed to do now?”

 

GaoLion roared gently and nudged its nose against Simon, pushing him up from the ground.

 

“I think he’s trying to give you a hint,” Saiya said.

 

***

 

“Excuse me?” Ryan asked firmly.

 

He was in Gao Rock with Timothy and Michael. Timothy had suggested that Ryan was too hard on Simon, and the yellow ranger was not taking it well.

 

“Blue, you’re not even fifteen yet, and even you have more experience than the kid,” Ryan said. “We were counting on Red to take out that Org while we kept Jindrax and Toxica busy. He screwed up.”

 

“He beat the crap out of that Org!” Timothy said.

 

“But how many people died first?” Ryan countered.

 

The Sacred Pool bubbled like a fountain as Tetomu appeared from the waters with a flash of blue-tinted light. She walked towards Ryan and the others with her arms across her chest. Her gaze was distant and thoughtful.

 

“Red is not like the rest of you,” she explained. “He does not have the heart of a warrior.”

 

Ryan shot a look to Timothy. “See.”

 

Tetomu shook her head, her mind still deep in thought. “He has something better. He is passionate. Caring. Selfless. He has a sensitive heart and the spirit of a hawk.”

 

“Hawk?“ Ryan arced an eyebrow. “Then why did GaoLion chose him?”

 

“Their hearts are the same,” Tetomu said. “Their passion breeds courage. They fight despite their fears.” A smile crossed Tetomu’s lips as she started to behave more like herself. “And that’s how we’ll heal GaoLion…”

 

Ryan shook his head with confusion. He was not used to Tetomu speaking in puzzles since it happened so rarely.

 

“Call Red,” Tetomu said with a glimmer of hope in her eye.

 

***

 

Simon arrived at Gao Rock a few minutes later.

 

Tetomu’s eyes opened wide with excitement when she saw him. She ran over to him and grabbed onto him by the arms. “I thought of a way for you to heal GaoLion!”

 

“How?” Simon asked quickly.

 

“The Soul Bird,” Tetomu said.

 

Simon flashed Tetomu a quizzical expression. “What’s the Soul Bird?”

 

“The Soul Bird was a mystic force that manifested itself as a Power Animal,” Tetomu explained. “It has the power to heal GaoLion and become the heart of Gao King.”

 

“Where’s this bird at?” Simon asked.

 

Tetomu looked to the Sacred Pool. “The Soul Bird resides on another plane of existence, but there is way to reach that plane. A vision quest.”

 

Tetomu slowly walked over to the Sacred Pool and placed her hand into the warm waters, waving her palm back and forth as the pool rippled around her fingers. She looked back to Simon. “Come look into the pool…”

 

Simon slowly stepped over to Tetomu’s side. “I’m guessing it’s not as easy as your making it sound…”

 

“Your vision quest will start when you look into the pool,” Tetomu said, slight wrinkled of worry crossing her face. “I’m not sure what you’ll see…”

 

Simon grasped his animal crystal tightly in hand. He leaned forward and looked into the Sacred Pool. He felt as if his spirit was pulled away by its rippling waters. His vision went black.

 

***

 

Simon’s vision slowly started to take shape. Blurs of color and motion coalesced and took form. He found himself standing on an endless field of grass that extended in every direction. The endless plain seemed disorienting.

 

The image suddenly shifted. The ground spun and morphed into the cityscape of Angel Grove. But the skies of the city were crimson and dotted with black clouds.

 

Simon stood on the edge of a partially destroyed building. A wave of vertigo struck him as he stepped back to keep from falling. His head felt like it was spinning and nausea crept up his throat. He collapsed to all fours.

 

Chills crept down his spine cold wind howled through the air. The wind blew dust into his face, stinging his eyes. He covered his face with his arm and slowly rose to his feet.   

 

He wiped his watery eyes clean and squinted while looking towards the distance. What he saw shocked him.

 

A spear-shaped palace of black stone stabbed upward from the ground. Red lightning thrashed from the palace as countless creatures spread across the streets like a blanket of death. The soldiers were black and covered in red veins.

 

Various Rangers fought amongst the soldiers. Simon recognized a few, taking notice of Dragon Ranger, a few of the Turbo Rangers, Galaxy Yellow alongside KuroKishi, a few of the Astros, and a warrior in what appeared to be a silver and blue version of Gao armor with a wolf motif.      

 

The image abruptly shifted again, spinning and flatting into the endless, grassy plain. This time two cloaked figures stood in the distance on opposite sides of the ranger. One figure was dressed in a dark red robe and hood, which hid his face completely. His robe had the image of a lion embroidered on it, with the eyes on his chest and the mane sweeping around towards his back.

 

The other stranger had a similar robe, only his was embroidered with the symbol of a hawk. The wings stretched across the man’s chest and around towards his back.

 

“It is almost time,” Hawk said. His voice was soft and melodious, sweeping across the plain like a gentle breeze.

 

“No,” Lion said. His low voice rumbled with power. “He is still my child, and will be taught accordingly…”

 

“You cannot change his fate,” Hawk said.

 

Lion scoffed. “Fate? Fate is irrelevant. The End is coming. Only The One can change Fate.”

 

“And if The One succeeds, the boy will be mine,” Hawk said.

 

“But not before,” Lion said.

 

Energy circled around Hawk like a tornado of flame. The flame dissipated, and Hawk was gone.

 

Simon narrowed his eyes at the being in Lion robes. “Who are you, and what was that all about?”

 

“It is not your concern yet,” Lion said. “Nor is it mine. Now why have you come here? Speak quickly…”

 

“I’m looking for the Soul Bird,” Simon explained. “I was told he lived on some other plane of existence.”

 

“The Soul Bird is irrelevant,” Lion said. “Do you even realize the powers at play? Do you understand how meager and insignificant your Soul Bird is? The fowl is nothing in the grand scheme, the great game.”

 

The image shifted again. The ground spun and morphed into the cityscape of Angel Grove. But the skies of the city were crimson and dotted with black clouds.

 

Simon stood on the edge of the same building and stepped back while shielding his eyes from the dirt storm with his arm. The stranger in the lion cloak stood behind Simon.

 

“The End,” Lion said. “This moment is all that matters. You and friends will die. The world as you know it will die. Only The One can change that, and you are not him. This moment has been written since the beginning of time.”

 

Simon narrowed his eyes as he looked out upon the battle raging below. “Are you saying I’m looking into the future somehow?”

 

“Of course,” Lion said. “How will you face this future? Will you whimper like a dog, or will you fight against it with the heart of the lion.”

 

Simon shook his head with frustration and turned to face the man. “What are you saying.”

 

The image spun and shifted back to the field of grass. “This is who you were…”

 

Another shift, the ground morphing and taking shape to form the war-torn city. “This is who you will become.”

 

Lion suddenly grabbed Simon by the throat and lifted him off his feet. “One way or another, this is what you will become. From an untouched plain to a battle-torn landscape ravaged with war and surrounded by death. You have a choice, child. Face this destiny like a wounded animal, accept this fate and let it destroy you, or face this destiny with an unwavering heart. A choice to become worn or hardened.”

 

Lion tightened its grasp, nearly crushing Simon’s throat. Grasping at the stranger’s arm, Simon kicked at the being and tried to break free. Lion’s grip tightened, cutting off Simon’s air supply.

 

The ranger’s lungs burned for air as he struggled. Then he knew no more.

 

***

 

Simon gasped for air as he bolted upward. He found himself naked in a straw hut with a warm candle providing the only source of illumination. Light from the candle danced across his bare skin, highlighting his every curve.

 

As he tried to step off the bed, a sharp pain stabbed through his shoulders.

 

The hut’s door opened as a young Japanese woman stepped inside. Dressed in a white kimono, she carried a bowl of water in her delicate hands.

 

Simon covered himself with his hands, blushing at the site of the beautiful woman.

 

Smiling at the sight, the woman set the bowl of  water on a nearby table and picked up a dark-green robe from the same piece of furniture. She handed the robe to Simon. “My apologizes…this was how we found you.”

 

We? As in plural? Great. “Could you turn around for a sec please?”

 

Simon waited until the young woman turned around before standing and slipping into his robe. “What is this place?”

 

“You’re in Dragon Clan lands,” she explained. “This is one of our few remaining villages.”

 

Simon’s eyes opened wide. “This is Rokugan, isn’t it?”

 

The young woman’s face grew pale. “At least it used to be…”

 

***

 

Simon stepped outside the cabin and nearly choked on the smell of burning incense. The young woman, Mika, caught his reaction. “We burn incense to mask the smell of decay. The Org are everywhere now…this is one of the last few scattered villages.”

 

Simon had to remind himself that none of what he was experiencing was real. It all seemed as if it were actually happening to him. The once vibrant colors of the village dulled by dirt and war, the smell of rot beneath the incense, the feel of the dirt and grass beneath his bare feet and the sounds of the dying woodlands around them all made the vision seem too real.

 

Sadness welled inside of Simon’s throat as he watched various families walk in and out of tents and huts. They each looked hopeless. None of them would survive. They were a doomed people.

 

“Another group of refugees arrived this morning,” Mika said. “Only nine arrived from a group of 60.”

 

Simon shook his head as he looked across the village. “That’s terrible…”

 

The ranger took a deep breath and reminded himself nothing was real. The people of Rokugan had died 1,000 years ago. This was all in his mind, and he had a job to do.

 

“Mika,” he asked. “What can you tell me about the Soul Bird?”

 

A smile crossed her face as a last glimmer of hope sparkled in her eye. “The Soul Bird nests here in our lands. It is drawn to my people’s magick.”

 

“Could I see the nest?” Simon asked.

 

Mika nodded and led the way. “I knew you would ask…This way.”

 

Simon followed, unaware of the 18 red, beady eyes that watched him depart. The red eyes stared out from the shadows of the same hut that the latest refugees were staying in.

 

***

 

Simon stood at the base of a tall tree and looked up. A nest of golden fibers rested on one of the highest branches. The nest was empty.

 

“How often does the Soul Bird come here?” Simon asked.

 

“Few people know,” Mika said. “Only a handful of our people have even seen the Soul Bird once.”

 

Nine figures suddenly pounced from the bushes and tackled against Simon and Mika. The attackers were refugees. Their skin was pale, and their eyes were blood red.

 

Simon grabbed his attacker by the shoulders and rolled backward, planting his foot on the assailant’s chest and kicking hard. The blow sent the attacker flailing through the air.

 

Simon rolled to his feet and darted towards Mika. But lines of rope suddenly wrapped his ankles together and tightened. Simon fell face-first against the dirt-covered ground.

 

An assailant straddled Simon from behind and stabbed him through the back of his shoulder. Simon screamed with pain as the dagger pierced through his muscle tissue and carved through bone.

 

The ranger swung his other arm around and batted the attacker aside like a rag doll.

 

Two attackers quickly lifted him and slammed his back against the tree. Simon winced from the impact, his wound sending jolts of pain across his body. With inhuman speed, two of the attackers ran around the tree while tying Simon against the trunk.

 

Another attacker pushed hard against Simon’s wound and leaned in to bite his ear, drawing blood with sickly yellow teeth. The attacker slowly dug his fingers deeper into Simon’s wound, causing him to scream.

 

Nearby, Mika screamed as three of the refugees bound her by the hands and ankles.

 

The smell of death quickly blew across the village with a fierce gust of wind, signaling the arrival of Orgs. An Org shaped like a gravestone stepped out from the bushes along with a swarm of grunts that charged towards the main village with clubs ready to batter everything in their way.

 

Gravestone Org slowly walked towards Simon as a mouth full of fangs opened wide on the creature’s belly. The villain laughed, its ooze coated tongue flapping about inside its large maw.

 

“Do you like my work, little boy?” The villain’s mouth sprayed black salvia. “I animate the dead. These refugees led me straight towards your encampment.”

 

Mika struggled nearby. “Filthy dogs! How dare you dishonor our fallen!”

 

Simon bit his tongue to keep from screaming again, and his own teeth drew blood. He did not want to give the Org the satisfaction of hearing him cry out.

 

In the distance, fires suddenly erupted as the Org soldiers spread across the village. People ran in panic as Orgs clubbed them to the ground, beating them until they stopped moving.  

 

Simon closed his eyes tight. None of it was real, he reminded himself. The villagers have been dead for more than 1,000 years.

 

He heard Mika scream again as Org grunts started kicking her on the ground.

 

The word of the stranger cloaked as a lion suddenly whispered into his ear: “You have a choice, child. Face this destiny like a wounded animal, accept this fate and let it destroy you, or face this destiny with an unwavering heart. A choice to become worn or hardened.”

 

He tightened his fists. He could not stop these people from dying. It was their fate, sealed centuries before he was born.

 

He pushed against the rope, straining his every muscle. He could not stop these people from dying, but that did not mean he should stop fighting. He could not surrender to pain. To doubt.

 

The heart of the lion pumped in his chest, sending raw power pulsing through his veins.

 

The Lion spoke new words. “Let the pain fuel you. Turn pain and anger into power for justice.”

 

Simon snapped free from the rope, despite the burning pain in his infected shoulder wound. He flipped open his morpher, which appeared in his hand as if from nowhere.

 

“Wild Access! Ha!” Energy pulsed around him as his armor and helmet wrapped around his body, and he morphed into his Ranger form. He snapped into a lion-like fighting stance.

 

“Blazing Lion! Gao Red!”

 

Gravestone Org licked its teeth. “So, I see-”

 

“Ha!” Gao Red pounced forward and unsheathed his claws, slashing the monster across the chest.

 

The Red Ranger’s nails sparked across the villain’s armor on impact, forcing the villain backward with each strike. Gao Red’s golden claws tore through the villains rocky skin and pierced rotting flesh as black ichor and puss seeped from the wounds.

 

Gao Red snapped his head around and looked to Mika, who was still being kicked by Org grunts. Fiery power raged through the Ranger’s veins.

 

“Gao Dagger!” the Ranger shouted as he unsheathed his dagger and sprang forward to attack the grunts.

 

The Red Ranger thrust his dagger through a grunt’s back. Gao Red tore the dagger upward, ripping the creature in half with massive bursts of spark that sprayed black ichor and puss-covered slime.

 

Gao Red bashed the end of his dagger’s handle across a grunt’s head and slit open the face of a third soldier.

 

Having pushed back the grunts, Gao Red kneeled down and cut Mika free. Her body was bruised and broken. Gao Red could feel her pain. Shivering, she reached out and handed Simon a small flower pedal.

 

The Red Ranger took the pedal just as Mika’s life slipped away.

 

From behind, Gravestone Org growled as his body started to expand and grow above the trees. The Org monster grew giant and started stomping towards the village.

 

Gao Red cursed beneath his breath.

 

A roaring sound suddenly rumbled through the air. Gao Red looked back and saw a giant green-armored guerilla thunder forth from the mountains and charge towards village. The Red Ranger opened his eyes wide beneath his helmet.

 

Green light suddenly wrapped around the Red Ranger’s glove as a jade animal crystal appeared in his palm. The Red Ranger felt an instant connection with the Power Animal, Gaorilla.

 

Gao Red placed the animal crystal in the hilt of his dagger and raised the weapon towards the air. “Charge! Gaorilla!”

 

Gaorilla gripped onto Gravestone Org. The Power Animal’s fingers dug through the villain’s shoulders, sending cracks along the creature’s rock-like skin. Black ichor and puss seeped from the wounds.

 

The Power Animal lifted the Org of its feet and hurled the creature through the air.

 

Suddenly, Gao Red felt his vision start to blur. He placed his hand on his helmet and stumbled backward as a wave of vertigo struck him.  “No…not now. I’m not finished yet!”

 

The world around him started to spin and shift shape like a whirlwind of color and light. Then a wave of blackness consumed him like a predator.

 

***

 

Simon crashed hard against his tailbone in Gao Rock. He winced and looked up to see Tetomu and the others gathered around him with quizzical expressions on their faces.

 

“I’m back…” he said quietly.

 

“Back?” Ryan said. “You looked into the pool and fell on your ass.”

 

Simon knitted his brow. He looked into his hand and saw the pedal Mika had given him. The pedal suddenly flashed with white light and formed a large egg. The egg was tinted with blue, and its sell was layered like a blooming flower.

 

Tetomu opened her eyes wide with amazement. “A Soul Bird egg…”

 

The Sacred Pool suddenly rippled with turbulence because of an Org presence. Tetomu looked into its waters and saw a giant Org with dark yellow armor and a plow dozer attached to its chest. The creature had twin horns extending from its blocked head. 

 

“Great,” Ryan said. “How are we supposed to fight that thing without Gao King?”

 

Simon narrowed his eyes. “We’ll fight with what we have. Let’s go...”

 

Ryan arced an eyebrow. What got into him?

 

***

 

The Rangers ran through the woods and looked up towards their giant opponent.

 

Gao Red felt the animal crystal in his dagger’s hilt flicker. He unsheathed his dagger and looked to the crystal, where he saw GaoLion’s reflection.

 

“Guys…” Gao Red said. “It’s GaoLion, he wants to fight anyway…”

 

“But he’s hurt,” Gao Black said.

 

The giant Dozer org fired tendrils of lighting energy that exploded around the Rangers with a massive shockwave of flame, sending them flying off their feet.

 

The Rangers slowly rose to their feet. Gao Red tightened his grip on his dagger, a fierce look of determination burning in his eyes beneath his visor. 

 

The Rangers unsheathed their Gao Daggers and extended the blades into the sky. “Wildzords, descend!”

 

The blades emitted an enchanting melody. The tone reached up to the sky island Anamarium and caught the ears of the Power Animals. A bridge of multi-colored light extended down from the island and towards the Earth. The Power Animals roared as they charged down the bridge and into battle.

 

The Rangers stood in a circle and thrust their daggers towards the center. Gao Red looked up while making a claw with his left hand over the right side of his chest. “Wildzords! Assemble!”

 

The five Wildzords charged forward as fiery energy surrounded them. GaoBison morphed into a waist and set of legs. GaoTiger and GaoShark formed the arms and attached to GaoLion, which served as the chest. GaoEagle attached to the lion and allowed the zord to hover over the ground as it zoomed forward.

 

The Rangers leapt up towards the zord and melded with it. A cockpit formed in GaoLion’s head armor, and five stations appeared for the Rangers to stand behind. Each station had two black, organic globes for controls. A slot was between each globe pair for the Gao daggers.

 

Gao Red laid his dagger onto the slot and placed his hands over the globe controls. “Rise up!”

 

 The combined zord rose and back-flipped through the air as the formation completed. “MegaWildzord!” the Rangers shouted from their cockpit. “Gao King!”

 

The MegaWildzord armed its Fin Blade and moved forward to attack Gao King swung the blade down hard towards the creature’s head, but the sword ricocheted harmlessly off the Org monster’s armor.

 

Gao King swung his blade down in an x-shaped pattern to try and chip away at the armor. Each strike sparked across Dozer Org, but the villain hardly felt the blows. The MegaWildzord pressed forward with a swing of his blade towards the Org monster’s head.

 

Dozer Org swung its hooked arm and slapped the Fin Blade aside. The monster used its raw strength to thrust its plow forward. The plow sparked against Gao King’s chest and forced the Megazord backward. Dozer Org thrust forward again, slamming its plow against Gao King with a  burst of sparks that ripped across the Megazord’s armor.

 

The blow knocked Gao King off his feet and sent him crashed backward while skidding across the ground.

 

Gao Black clutched onto his console to stay on his feet. “Gao King isn’t strong enough to break through that Org’s armor.”

 

Gao Blue nodded. “We didn’t even make a dent!”

 

The Yellow Ranger looked to Gao Red. “We need the bears.”

 

Gao Red hesitated. The Double Knuckle would only hurt GaoLion more.

 

GaoLion sensed his tamer’s thoughts and roared from the chest of Gao King. The lion was willing to take the risk.

 

“Do it,” Gao Red said.

 

Gao Yellow pulled out his two other animal crystals and handed them to the others. “Blue, White.”

 

Gao Blue and Gao White placed the crystals into their daggers’ hilts and raised the weapons upward.

 

“Descend! GaoBear!” Gao White shouted.

 

“Descend! GaoPolar!” Gao Blue shouted.

 

The two armored bears stomped onto the battle scene and charged towards Dozer Org before pouncing through the air to attack. The bears melded into a rolling energy wheel of fiery power that shot towards the monster and crashed against its armor with a massive burst of spark.

 

The impact knocked Dozer Org off its feet and sent the massive villain crashing onto the ground.

 

The tiger and shark arms separated from the Megazord as the bears rushed forward to take their place on Gao King.

 

“Attach!” the Rangers shouted. “Bear Knuckles!”

 

Energy streaked around the bears as they started to shift shape and form a pair of muscular arms. The arms locked into place on GaoLion, taking their places on the mighty Megazord.

 

“MegaWildzord!” the Rangers shouted. “Gao King, Double Knuckle!”

 

Gao King and Dozer Org charged towards one another. The MegaWildzord launched a flurry of powerful punches that smashed against the Org monster with bursts of spark, each blow forcing the villain a step back.

 

Energy flexed through the bear arms as they punched again, denting the villain’s armor with each strike.

 

Dozer Org tried to swing its hook arm towards the Megazord, but Gao King punched the hook arm away, snapping off the hook. Gao King leaned forward with a cross punch that smashed against Dozer Org’s plow.

 

The villain stumbled backward, and the Rangers readied the final blow.

 

“Gao King!” they shouted. “Bear-”

 

Lights in the cockpit flickered as GaoLion growled with exhaustion and pain.

 

Dozer Org used that moment to strike. The villain leaned forward as yellow-tinted electricity danced between its horns. Blasts of lighting lashed out and exploded against the Megazord with a massive burst of sparks and smoke.

 

Energy discharges lashed out and exploded against the Rangers’ armor with bursts of spark. Gao King broke apart, and the power animals crashed against the ground, discharging the Rangers back into the woods below.

 

GaoLion rose back to its feet and sprang towards the Org to attack. Dozer Org smashed its plow against the zord, batting GaoLion aside as sparks thrashed across his armor.

 

The other Power Animals charged forward to protect GaoLion.

 

GaoShark swam through the air and bit down hard on Dozer Org’s neck before getting swatted away by the villain.

 

GaoBison rammed its horns against the creature, knocking it backward as GaoTiger leapt through the air. GaoTiger spun forward while clawing the monster, its armor sparking from the strike.

 

The massive eagle zord soared down from the skies, the bird’s wings shining in the sun. The zord flapped its wings and fired a volley of golden energy blasts that tore through the air like meteors before exploding against Dozer Org.

 

Gao Bear opened its jaw and fired a stream of fiery power, as GaoPolar opened its jaw and fired a stream of sub-zero energy. The blasts splashed across Dozer Org, blasting the villain backward. The monster’s body was overcome with intense heat and intense cold as the bears continued to fire streams of energy at their opponent.

 

Gao Red watched as the zords kept fighting. He tightened his hands into fists. “We have to do something…”

 

Jade-tinted flames suddenly flickered across Gao Red’s hand. A small column of green light extended from his hand as an animal crystal took shape and settled into his palm. It was Gaorilla, the Power Animal from his vision.

 

“Gaorilla!” Gao Red shouted.

 

“Gao what?” the Yellow Ranger asked.

 

“A Power Animal from my vision,” Gao Red said. “I’ll explain later.”

 

The Red Ranger placed the green gem into the hilt of his dagger and lifted the weapon towards the air. “Descend! Gaorilla!”

 

The green-armored guerilla shouted its war cry as it appeared, thundering forward towards the Org monster.

 

Gaorilla gripped onto Dozer Org as the zord’s fingers punctured through the villain’s shoulders, sending cracks along the creature’s rock-like skin. Black ichor and puss seeped from the wounds.

 

The green-armored Power Animal hurled the villain through the air. Dozer Org crashed against the ground and slid backward, tearing through trees and dirt.

 

Gaorilla armed curved energy blades between his fingers, each blade appearing almost like a banana. Gaorilla tossed the energy blades forward, and each exploded against Dozer Org with massive bursts of spark that forced the villain backward.

 

Gaorilla roared and pounded its chest like its namesake.

 

Gao Red looked to the others. “We can use Gaorilla as a new body for the Megazord…”    

 

The Rangers stood in a circle and thrust their daggers towards the center. Gao Red looked up while making a claw with his left hand over the right side of his chest. “Wildzords! Assemble!”

 

Gaorilla leapt through the air and streaked forward through a tunnel of energy. The green-armored zord shifted shape and formed a muscular chest that GaoBear and GaoPolar attached too. GaoBison formed the legs and waist, and GaoEagle wrapped around the bison head as if a belt buckle. An armored helmet flipped up from the body as the transformation completed.

 

The Rangers entered their cockpit and placed their daggers into slots on the stations in front of them. “MegaKongazord!” they shouted. “GaoMuscle!” 

 

Dozer Org charged forward towards the new Megazord with its plow extended. The villain crashed its plow against GaoMuscle, but the impact did nothing but bounce the villain away. 

 

The Org monster swung its arm towards the zord’s head, but GaoMuscle grabbed the monster’s armored wrist and twisted, locking the arm into place.

 

The MegaKongazord fired back-mounted blasters that exploded against the monster with a massive burst of sparks. GaoMuscle released his grip, and the monster went tumbling backward.

 

“Double Knuckle!” they shouted. “Vital Slash!”

 

The zord energized its bear knuckle and swung a punch that streaked forward with fiery energy. The strike sparked against the monster on impact. GaoMuscle energized his polar knuckle and swung a punch that streaked icy energy. The strike sparked against the monster on impact.  

 

The villain stumbled backward, and the Rangers readied for the final blow.

 

“GaoMuscle!” they shouted. “Bear strike, fire!”

 

The bears’ jaws opened and pointed towards the Org monster. The bears fired simultaneously, a beam of sub-zero energy and a second beam of fiery power. The blasts punctured through the villain’s armor with massive explosions that tore the monster’s body apart. The creature let loose a final groan of pain before his entire body erupted into fiery chunks of slime and flesh that vaporized from the double knuckle blast’s power.

 

***

 

The ranger returned to Gao Rock and gathered around the Sacred Pool with Tetomu. The Soul Bird Egg was on the edge of the pool.

 

Saiya looked to Tetomu. “How long until it hatches?”

 

“I don’t know for sure,” Tetomu said as she traced her fingers along the edge of the egg.

 

“Well,” Timothy said as he placed a hand on Simon’s shoulder. “It’s a good thing we’ve got GaoMuscle. Where did that thing come from anyway?”

 

Simon looked into the water, hesitant to answer. It had all been so real, but it was just a vivid dream. And yet the pedal and animal crystal had both manifested in reality. So what exactly did happen? Was Mika real?

 

“It came from a friend,” Simon said. “Just a friend.”

To be continued…Chapter Ten