"Bijuken Sentai Retsuranger"
"Tailed Beast-Fist Squadron Strike Rangers"
Chapter 1: "Fist of the Beast"
Disclaimer: Naruto is the intellectual property of Masashi Kishimoto and the licensing property of Viz. Power Rangers is the intellectual property of one Haim Saban, but the licensing properties go to Disney as of 2003; before then, Saban was in charge of the direction of the PR franchise. Super Sentai, the Japanese source for Power Rangers, belongs to Toei. I make no money from this story and I do not get special sneak peeks at new incarnations of Power Rangers or Super Sentai as compensation. On that virtue, I don't get a special sneak preview of the English dub of Naruto Shippuden as compensation for my efforts here. No, my goal is simply to write a story that you will hopefully enjoy.
Author's note: This is a crossover of Naruto and Power Rangers, with elements derived from the latest PR entry's Japanese equivalent Gekiranger. This is an A/U for both series, in the sense that this is basically a "what if Naruto was raised outside the Hidden Leaf?" fic, only Haku, Yugito, Gaara, and Kirabi are along for the ride. The Power Rangers elements are largely based on the three most recent PR series – Jungle Fury, Operation Overdrive, and Mystic Force – with Zordon representing classic PR and overseeing the whole thing. I'll make it clear just how everything happened in this universe.
A brown-haired boy in his late teens stood protectively in front of a small blond boy, separating him from the angry mob from which he'd been fleeing. The older boy wore a purple vest jacket with a claw mark emblazoned on the left breast over a long-sleeved black shirt and black pants. His blue eyes blazed with anger at the bloodlust he could smell from the villagers toward the boy he was protecting.
"I hope you're aware," he began with a calm he did not truly feel, "that this is a little boy you've been trying to kill. I hope you feel ashamed, because you should."
"That is no little boy!" a villager yelled.
"That's a demon!" another shouted.
"He killed our Fourth Hokage!" a third yelled.
"He killed my child!" a fourth shouted.
"He killed my wife!" a fifth hollered.
"He destroyed my house!" a sixth roared.
The older boy looked at the smaller boy. "Is all this true?" he asked rhetorically.
The smaller boy shook his head with fear. "No. I don't know what they're talking about. I never did anything to them!"
"Liar!" a seventh villager screamed.
The older boy turned to the angry mob, a smile on his face. "There. He's innocent. Just a little boy, like any other, with the same hopes, dreams, and fears as any. Whatever your grudge with him . . . he is not the one to blame for your sorrows."
"You're in league with the demon!" a villager yelled.
"Kill them both!" another suggested.
Just as the villagers were about to attack, the older boy whispered to the younger, "Don't be afraid." He held up his index fingers and thumbs, spread his hands far apart, and channeled violet energy through those hands. The energy took on the shape of a wolf that quickly forced the mob to disperse. "This is me in a good mood. Don't make me upset. You wouldn't like me when I'm upset."
The small boy had seen the entire thing, watching as the older boy had unleashed some kind of violet spirit wolf to attack the mob. "What is that?"
"My wolf spirit," the older boy replied. He turned to the mob. "I'm taking this boy away from this place. Maybe when I bring him back here for a visit, you'll all have learned a little lesson in humanity."
The next day, Hiruzen Sarutobi, the Third Hokage, sat at his desk, staring at the astral form before him. "Am I to believe what I am seeing here?" he asked sardonically.
"A ninja must look underneath the underneath," the astral form, glowing white energy shaped very much like a human being, answered. "Is that not the lesson you've spent so long teaching your pupils and would-be successors?"
"Yes," Sarutobi admitted. "But that doesn't explain what you want with Naruto Uzumaki."
"The boy's father was doomed to failure from the very beginning," the astral figure stated sadly. "He wanted the boy to be seen as a hero for the use of his body as a prison for the entity that nearly destroyed your village. Unfortunately, humans – and other sapient life – fear what they do not understand, and what they fear, they ultimately hate and seek to destroy. Your own efforts to protect him, as noble as they were, were also doomed to failure from the very beginning, and now it is out of your hands."
"Naruto is still . . ."
"Naruto's future is in this village, but he will not be able to make it there with this village so determined to destroy him. That is why he is now under the protection of the Order of the Claw. He will learn more from them than he will from your ninja at this point."
Sarutobi hated to admit it, but the astral figure had a point. The villagers would take a long time to accept Naruto, and with Naruto as a constant reminder of what they had lost that day, it was no surprise that they had been so quick to turn on him. He sighed sadly. "Will I ever see him again?"
"In ten years' time."
"May I inquire as to your name?"
The astral figure began to fade away, his visage growing dimmer and dimmer until he was entirely gone. However, just before his presence faded out completely, a deep, reverberant voice spoke. "Zordon."
In Kirigakure, the Village Hidden in the Mist, a young dark-haired girl trudged through the snow, dressed in tattered rags that did nothing to keep her warm. She stumbled once, but righted herself and continued her lonely walk. She was an orphan, for two very important reasons, the more important one in the villagers' mind being that she was a "demon," or rather, the container of a demon. The more important reason in her heart was that . . . she was a freak. A monster with a bloodline limit, one inherited from her mother, who'd hidden it from her father . . . and her father had murdered her for it. The girl would have died, too, had she not instinctively used the power within her blood . . . and the monster sealed within her . . . to kill her father and the allies he had gathered to him.
Now she was alone. Absolutely and completely alone, and there was nary a person around who'd give her a warm meal, a cup of hot chocolate, or even a warm bed to sleep in for the night. She would have to fend for herself, as she had grown accustomed to ever since that forsaken night.
"You look lost," a gruff male voice remarked.
The girl turned to the source of the voice, a man with long blond hair and a full goatee dressed in sharkskin leathers, a pair of swords at his side. "I'm not lost, sir. I simply have nowhere to go."
"Then why not come with me?" he asked, his voice softening.
"Are you going to hurt me, sir?" the girl asked.
The man looked taken aback. "No. What makes you think I'd do such a thing?"
"My own father tried to kill me," the girl answered. "How am I to know you won't do the same?"
The man sighed sadly. "I'll tell you my name, and you'll tell me yours, and we'll take it from there. Ok?"
"I'm Finn. What's your name?"
In Sunagakure, the Village Hidden in the Sand, a young redheaded boy looked at the corpse of the man he had long believed was his only friend. Except he wasn't his friend; he never cared about him at all. In fact, he had despised him from the very beginning! It had all been lies, all his talk about love and loyalty . . . nothing but filthy lies!
"Hey," a voice greeted him.
Without thinking, the boy lashed out with the sand that surrounded him, intending to crush the newcomer to nothing. However, that never quite happened, because a glowing sword that vaguely resembled a rhino's horn sliced through the sand as though it were wet tissue paper. The boy looked at the wielder of the sword, a teenage boy with close-cropped blond hair and broad shoulders. The older boy wore a white-and-black jacket with orange highlights and black pants and he was looking at the younger boy with a sad expression.
"I know what it's like. For people not to understand you, not to even try to understand you. Just resenting you because of the way you are."
"You don't know my pain," the redheaded boy snarled.
"True," the blond boy replied. "But I know what it's like to be rejected, even when you're trying to reach out to people. There's a place, though, where you won't have to go through all that. There's a place where you can learn to control the power slumbering within you, without letting the power control you."
"What do you know about power?" the smaller boy asked.
"Plenty," the older boy answered. He smirked for a moment. "You wanna see?"
The smaller boy harrumphed. "Show me what you have."
The older boy chuckled and unleashed a white energy from his body that took the shape of a stampeding rhino. The smaller boy blocked with his Sand Shield . . . and both the shield of sand and the spirit rhino were demolished in the collision between the irresistible force and the immovable object. The smaller boy looked at the older boy with a dawning respect.
"Where did you get such power?"
"Fighting for what's important to me."
"And what is important to you?"
The older boy smiled slowly. "My friends."
"Who are you?" the younger boy asked.
"Gaara . . . of the Sand."
"Why don't you come with me, then?" Dominic offered, reaching out to the younger boy.
The next day, the Fourth Kazekage found himself staring deep into the "eyes" of a burning bright astral figure. "What have you done with my son?"
"You don't treat him like a son," the astral figure answered simply. "You treat him as a weapon, as a tool to help your village keep its supremacy. Isn't that what you sealed that sand spirit into him for? While his mother was still pregnant with him? Your wife?"
"She understood . . . she understood what she had to do for this village," the Kazekage growled.
"She cursed you. You and this village that would do this to her and her son. And thanks to your foolishness, Gaara could very well have become the very incarnation of his mother's curse. That won't happen now; he will grow up in a place where he can learn to control his inner beast and not be shunned for it."
"What right do you have? I am the Kazekage!"
"And I am the guardian of the Universal Morphing Grid, a power that extends far beyond what you think yours is."
The Kazekage snarled. "Who are you?"
The astral figure faded from the Kazekage's sight, but his presence did not completely vanish. Before it did, the Kazekage heard a single word: "Zordon."
In Kumogakure, the Village Hidden in the Clouds, a young blonde girl with catlike slanted eyes wandered through the neighborhood, ignoring the harsh stares pointed her way. She continued to the market, just wanting to get some food and herbs and get out quickly. She knew the villagers didn't like her, and the sooner she could get what she came for and go back home, the better.
Unfortunately, it was not to be, as someone tripped her. She fell to the ground, looking up at the one who had tripped her, an older boy surrounded by a gaggle of friends with matching sneers on their faces. The girl snarled internally; that boy wouldn't feel so tough if it wasn't for his brainless friends. One on one, she bet she could take him down.
"Awww, is the baby demon gonna cry?" the boy mocked her.
The girl glared up at the boy, slowly rising to her feet. At that moment, she was kicked in the stomach. "Demons should stay on the ground," the boy who had kicked her sneered.
"Leave her alone," a deep, serious voice ordered.
A shadow loomed over the girl and the boys that were picking on her, prompting them to look up and see a young man with long dark hair and dark eyes burning with rage, dressed in a black leather suit with the underarms cut out. "And who's gonna make us, mister? You?" one of the boys asked.
That boy shortly found himself chopped in the throat, causing him to cough and hack and gasp for breath. The other boys began to back away from the girl, not wanting to chance a fight with the leather-clad stranger, who was now gazing upon the observing villagers with scornful wrath. "You were willing to stand there and watch while those boys picked on a defenseless young girl? Did you not do anything because you were afraid? Or did you not do anything because you hated her?"
"You don't know who she is!" a villager was finally brave enough to shout.
"It doesn't matter," the stranger snarled. "She was a defenseless child . . . and you would have left her to the mercies of those boys. I may not know who she is, but I know who you are. Filth. And I am not going to allow this girl to be sullied by you."
By this point, an angry mob had begun to coalesce. The stranger merely smirked and radiated a literal aura of black-and-gold energy, one that formed into a black lion with a golden mane and rushed at the nascent mob, forcing them to disperse or be torn apart. The spirit lion dissipated, its job done, as the stranger looked at the little girl. "What is your name?"
"Yugito. Yugito Nii."
"I'm Kurojishi Rio."
The next day, the Raikage was glaring at the brightly glowing astral figure before him. "Do you realize what I could do to you for this?"
"Do you really think we would harm Yugito?"
"She is a citizen of Kumo!" the Raikage answered.
"But she is not under your direct authority, as she is not a ninja," the astral figure countered.
"She is a Jinchuriki! Her safety is my top concern!"
"If it were . . . you wouldn't let the villagers brutalize her the way they have. Were it not for the intervention of the Order of the Claw, Yugito would have been severely harmed, if not killed, and your villagers were willing to stand by and let it happen. I am sorry, but I cannot entrust her safety to you."
The Raikage glared at the astral figure, his expression only slightly softening. "Will she be safe with you?"
"Yes," the astral figure promised. "We will keep her safe. We will train her. And we will give her a place where she can be free of persecution for what she carries inside her."
"Who are you?" the Raikage asked.
The astral figure suddenly vanished, like a flash of lightning. But there was a distinctive mark of his visit, an ornate "Z" scratched into the Raikage's desk. He heard a deep, reverberant voice speak one word, and that word was . . . "Zordon."
A little later, a tall, muscular boy with white hair styled in cornrows, darkly bronzed skin, and a tattoo on his left cheek resembling a bull's horns came in. "Lord Raikage, you summoned me. Is there something you want me to see?" the boy asked in a rhythmic tone.
"Kirabi," the Raikage answered. "I want you to go to Daijugakure."
"The Village Hidden Among the Great Beasts? Yo, you want me to make them my feast?" Kirabi inquired in that same rhythmic tone.
"No, I want you to watch over Yugito," the Raikage answered. "Make sure this 'Order of the Claw' means nothing but the best for Yugito. Also, I want you to make sure she knows something of our ways and our combat styles."
"Sure thing, Raikage, my man. I'll make sure the Order of the Claw doesn't do anything to Yugito-chan," Kirabi rhymed.
The Raikage groaned. "Sometimes, brother, I don't know why I bother with you."
"'Cause I'm the greatest," Kirabi answered, still in that rhythmic tone. "And you know better than to rage like a sadist."
"Whatever. Just go and find Yugito."
"Sure thing, big bro. Maybe while I'm at it, I'll find some hoes."
The Raikage glared, prompting Kirabi to leave. Once Kirabi was gone, the Raikage looked at the "Z" engraved onto his desk. "Whoever the hell you are, Zordon . . . you'd better take care of Yugito."
Daijugakure, the Village Hidden Among the Great Beasts, was a village simultaneously surrounding and inhabiting the jungles where beasts dwelled. Its ninja practiced a unique form of summoning, where they forged a harmony with the spirits of the great beasts and unleashed those spirits to attack their enemies or harnessed those spirits to augment their extant physical and mental capabilities. Daiju-nin were reputed to be as stealthy as jaguars, as fast as cheetahs, as cunning as wolves, as strong as tigers, as mighty as lions, as sneaky as chameleons, as powerful as rhinos, as agile as sharks, as perceptive as bats, and as unstoppable as elephants.
There were five unique residents of Hidden Beast, five who had sealed inside them the spirits of the most powerful beasts in the known world. These beasts were of an otherworldly nature, raw spiritual power molded into physical forms. Their living prisons were Naruto, the holder of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox; Haku, the holder of the Three-Tailed Demon Turtle; Gaara, the holder of the One-Tailed Shukaku; Yugito, the holder of the Two-Tailed Demon Cat; Kirabi, the holder of the Eight-Tailed Ushi-Oni.
At this moment, a 15-year-old Naruto Uzumaki was sparring against his sensei R.J. The older man fought in a style resembling Muay Thai, using his elbows and knees to attack Naruto. Naruto fought in a style resembling capoeira, only extremely chaotic. Fortunately for R.J., his style was not the most predictable, either, which made things interesting for both of them.
Naruto hooked his leg around R.J.'s ankle on a sweep and twisted to trip him. R.J. simply landed on his hand and twisted into a low kick that Naruto barely evaded. Naruto twisted on his hands and launched himself into a kick that R.J. blocked with both forearms crossed. Despite that, the force of Naruto's kick pushed R.J. back some distance. Skidding to a stop, R.J. looked up at Naruto with fire in his blue-gray eyes.
"Time I stopped holding back on you," he said.
"Likewise," Naruto answered. "Now . . . whose spirit is stronger? The fox or the wolf?"
R.J. chuckled. "We'll see. Unleash the Violet Wolf!"
"Unleash the Scarlet Fox!" Naruto answered.
Both R.J. and Naruto unleashed their beast spirits, R.J.'s wolf and Naruto's nine-tailed fox charging at each other. The violet wolf went into a spinning attack using its tail as a slashing weapon. The nine-tailed fox threw itself into a buzzsaw-like attack with all nine tails as slashing weapons. The two beast spirits collided against each other, only for Naruto's fox spirit to ultimately prevail.
"That wasn't even the worst I could have done," Naruto remarked.
"Likewise," R.J. agreed. "Guess I lied about not holding back on you."
"Same," Naruto answered.
"Say, you wanna get a drink of water?" R.J. asked.
"Sure, I could use one," Naruto answered, wiping the sweat off his hands on his black pants. He went to a corner of the training room and picked up a red-and-black jacket with the symbol of the Order of the Claw on the left breast and a red spiral on the back. Donning the jacket, but leaving it open to expose the black shirt underneath, Naruto walked over to R.J. "I wonder how Haku and Yugito are doing."
"Oh?" R.J. asked teasingly. "Foxy boy got a crush?"
Naruto glared crossly at him. "I don't tease you about the cheetah. Don't tease me about Haku and Yugito."
"You're really serious about those two, aren't you?"
"Well, you can either figure out which one you want more, or you can try to pull some kind of weird harem thing where you get them both, plus a few other girls. That actually might be interesting."
Naruto scoffed. "Please. How am I going to get a harem? And what would I do with one, anyway?"
Near the Hidden Beast River, a 17-year-old Haku fought Finn, his swords clashing with her combat needles. While he was better at close combat than she was, she was faster than he was and better at ranged attacks with her needles, which kept Finn off balance. It also helped that she could harden the ambient water vapor into a multiplicity of ice needles that flew at Finn, who blocked them to the best of his ability with his swords.
"You could stop holding back," Finn suggested.
"Are you sure about that?" Haku asked gently. "I do not wish to do you any genuine harm."
"This old shark can take it," Finn answered. "Or are you scared?"
Haku growled and performed one-handed seals for her signature technique, largely a product of her bloodline limit. This technique created a dome full of mirrors formed from ice surrounding her and Finn. Once that was done, she stepped into one of the mirrors, seemingly fusing with it. Soon enough, her image was reflected in every mirror.
"Remember, you did ask for this."
Finn smirked and combined his two short swords into one larger sword. Channeling his shark spirit through the sword, he managed to slice one of the mirrors, but Haku had used her multiple reflections to attack Finn with blinding speed. By the end of her blitz, Finn was trying to catch his breath.
"Not bad, Haku," Finn remarked. "But I think it's time you experienced the full power of the Shark technique."
"I would like to experience this power," Haku invited.
Finn separated his swords and channeled his shark spirit through both, generating slicing waves of water that cut Haku's mirrors but did not destroy them. "What do you think?" he asked with a smirk.
Haku answered by going into another blitz attack using her multiple reflections. Finn countered with his Shark Saber techniques, but Haku was able to deflect by manipulating the water droplets into ice needles that flew at Finn with incredible speed. Finn blocked the ice needles to the best of his not-inconsiderable ability, but Haku's speed rendered such a near-impossible task.
"Are you finished?" Haku asked.
"No," Finn replied, unleashing his shark spirit in its full, undiluted form and turning it on Haku, who didn't seem all that worried. Bracing herself, she summoned her own beast spirit, the Three-Tailed Demon Turtle, to attack Finn. The two beast spirits did battle, with the Three-Tailed Demon Turtle ultimately proving victorious over Finn's shark spirit. "Not bad."
Haku smiled. "Thank you, sensei."
On the beach of the Hidden Beast Village, a 15-year-old Gaara and Dominic fought, Dominic's punches putting cracks in Gaara's sand armor. Gaara was giving as hard as he got, though, his crushing sand attacks battering Dominic when his own fists weren't sufficient. Dominic jumped back from Gaara and his sand, his white aura burning brightly as it formed into the shape of a rhino and charged Gaara. In return, Gaara infused his sand with the spirit of the One-Tailed Shukaku, forming a physical replication of the chakra beast that charged Dominic's rhino spirit.
As had happened in their first encounter, the collision of the two beast spirits resulted in the dissipation of both, with sand flying everywhere from the Shukaku replica's disintegration. To Gaara's surprise, Dominic charged through the sand with his eyes tightly shut, a spirit-formed sword at Gaara's throat.
"Yield," Dominic demanded lightly.
At that moment, Dominic found sand creeping up his legs, while sand fused to Gaara and hardened into armor. "I don't think so," Gaara whispered.
"Touché," Dominic acknowledged.
"A stalemate as always," Gaara mused. "Why is that?"
"We're used to each other," Dominic surmised. "Unless one of us did a completely out-of-nowhere technique, it'd always be a stalemate. Not that I mind. I like our spars."
Gaara let the sand armor break off him, revealing his smiling face. "I like them, too, Dominic-sensei."
Deep within one of the jungle forests of Hidden Beast Village, an 18-year-old Yugito and 25-year-old Kirabi stood before Rio and Mele, the masters of the lion spirit and the chameleon spirit respectively. Rio wore his usual combat outfit, a black leather suit with attached shoulder guards. Mele wore her standard combat outfit, a green cheong-sam, and her dark hair was styled in two curled braids. Kirabi was dressed in his usual baggy gray outfit, while Yugito wore a blue mandarin-collared shirt and black pants.
"Are you ready to begin?" Rio asked.
"We are," Yugito replied.
Rio's aura flared black and gold before solidifying into lion-themed black armor that also turned his hair wild as a lion's mane. Mele's form shifted as well, into a chameleon-like green armored body, and she drew a pair of sai.
"Yo, yo, what's up, my homies? This treat's on me!" Kirabi rhymed, before unleashing the Eight-Tailed Ushi-Oni's power, which wrapped around him in the shape resembling its true form. Next to him, Yugito unleashed the Two-Tailed Demon Cat's power, which wrapped around her as blue fire and took the shape of its true form. Both former Cloud-nin prepared for battle with the now-armored Rio and Mele.
Rio and Yugito fought, while Kirabi took on Mele. Kirabi might have had raw power on his side, but Mele took pride in being like the chameleon whose spirit she harnessed – fast, stealthy, and cunning. Rio and Yugito found themselves almost evenly matched; Yugito's intensity and skill were a formidable counter to Rio's power and ferocity.
At the climax of the fight, all four unleashed their beast spirits upon each other, the spirit lion and spirit chameleon taking on the burning blue nekomata and the massive bull-like demon. In the end, the conflagration destroyed a good portion of the jungle forest in which they'd been fighting. Yugito looked at the devastated area with a sigh and then punched Kirabi in the shoulder.
"Well, yeah, I'm the jinchuriki of the ox, so you'd better back off my rocks," Kirabi retorted.
"I am going to hate explaining this to Master Mao," a powered-down Rio groaned.
"We'll just tell him it's Kirabi's fault," a similarly powered-down Mele suggested.
Kirabi shook his head. "Man, I'm just being who I am. Y'all need to stop hating, damn!"
Now, the five Tailed Beast jailors stood before Master Mao, the Zyukage, or Beast Shadow, of the Hidden Village they had called home for ten years. "It's been ten years since you were brought to our village. Ten years, and you have learned much of the ways of Juken. You have found the inner strength, the determination to protect what you hold dear, that serves as your drive. You are in perfect harmony with your chakra beasts."
"I was already in harmony, but thank you very much for the honey," Kirabi rapped.
Master Mao smiled tolerantly. "You're welcome. The Hidden Leaf Village is hosting this year's Chunin Exams. I feel the four of you that are still genin will do well, which is why I've signed you up."
"Grandpa Zyukage, the Chunin Exams must be taken in teams of three," Naruto said. "Won't one of us have to stay behind? If so . . . it's gonna be a hard decision. I want to enter the Chunin Exams, but I don't want any of my friends to be denied their chance to become chunin."
Master Mao smiled. "As always, Naruto, your caring heart shines through. However, you're wrong. None of you will have to stay behind, as I am introducing two additional genin to join you. That will require you, though, to split into two teams."
"Who will these extra genin be?" Haku asked, garbed in her usual attire of a white battle kimono over a mesh body stocking and tight long black shorts for the purpose of preserving her modesty.
At that moment, three others stepped into the room. Two were male and one was female. The older male was R.J., garbed in his standard purple battle vest over a black shirt and pants with a purple bracer shaped similarly to a wolf's head on his left wrist. The younger male was about Haku's age, and had long dark hair that, along with his black outfit, complemented his pale skin. The female was closer to Naruto's and Gaara's age, with suntanned skin and aquamarine hair. Her outfit could be described as a cropped white top and white miniskirt with a longer fishnet top and long fishnet shorts underneath.
"R.J., Karasu, Renge," Master Mao greeted.
Naruto, Haku, Gaara, Yugito, and Kirabi looked at the Wolf jonin and the two students accompanying him. "Are these the ones?" Gaara asked.
Renge was the living prison of the Seven-Tailed Isonade, sealed into her at birth at the behest of the leaders of Takigakure, the Village Hidden in the Waterfall. The villagers had ultimately refused to acknowledge her as one of their own, seeing her as nothing more than an incarnation of the monster that had terrorized their home. In that respect, she was not much different from Naruto, Haku, Gaara, Yugito, or even Kirabi. Like those five, she had been saved from her deprived existence by an agent of Daijugakure, namely the Blue Mystic Wizard, a water elemental magus who had also acted on behalf of the Mystic Mother, the reputed source of all good magic.
Karasu was the wielder of the spirit of the raven and was a born resident of Daijugakure. While not a Tailed Beast jailor himself, he was strong enough in his control of the raven spirit to fight Gaara and Yugito, and maybe Haku if he pushed himself hard enough. As for his personality, he could almost be seen as a younger, darker version of R.J.: amiable enough in person but seemingly disinterested regarding the concerns and worries of everyone else.
"Yes," Master Mao replied. "R.J., you will be the jonin overseer of Naruto, Haku, and Gaara, Team Arashi. Kirabi, you will be the jonin overseer of Yugito, Renge, and Karasu, Team Raiden."
"What's that you're wearing on your wrist, R.J.-sensei?" Naruto asked.
R.J. held up the wolf-shaped bracer on his left wrist. "A morpher. It energizes my wolf spirit in a way that armors my body and augments my combat prowess, while allowing me to channel my wolf spirit in other ways. Speaking of morphers, I have presents for you. Catch!"
Naruto, Gaara, Haku, Yugito, and Renge caught strange black oblong bracers with what appeared to be circular slots at the point where the straps would wrap around their wrists. As for Kirabi, he got what looked like a cross between a belt buckle and a high-tech cell phone with a circular screen similar to the slots on the five genin's new bracers. When Kirabi flipped the device open, it revealed a numerical keypad.
"These are morphers? We might as well get some twofers," Kirabi rhymed sardonically.
"Not done yet," R.J. answered. "Catch!"
The six Tailed Beast jailors caught what appeared to be golden medals with black frames that had multiples of five engraved in them like a combination lock. Each individual medal had the engraving of an image resembling his or her holder's unique Tailed Beast spirit. "Wow . . ." Naruto uttered.
"Understand that in accepting these gifts, you also accept the responsibilities inherent in them," Master Mao stated.
"Responsibilities?" Renge asked.
"Yes," Master Mao affirmed. "You are the latest generation of a force that has existed for countless eons, a force dedicated to the protection of the innocent, the preservation of justice, and the defeat of those who would enforce iniquity. You are . . . Power Rangers."
Gaara looked at R.J. "Are you a Power Ranger?"
"Yes," R.J. replied. "And that relates to the other reason we're going to the Hidden Leaf Village."
"And that would be?" Yugito prompted.
"Dai Shi, the Infernal Dragon, has found a way to escape from his imprisonment," Master Mao explained. "Doubtlessly, he will have taken a human host, someone whose heart is full of anger and hate and the desire for vengeance. Dai Shi will nurture those desires, amplifying the darkness in this human's soul until his host's humanity is completely hollowed out, leaving the host as a mere shell for Dai Shi to control and ultimately be reborn through."
"Who's Dai Shi?" Naruto asked.
"The Ten-Headed Infernal Dragon, the most powerful of the beasts," Master Mao replied. "Even more powerful than the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox, but his imprisonment has weakened him. If you strike now, while he is relatively weak, you may have a chance to defeat him. If he is allowed to regain his full power, I fear for this world."
"Attach the medals to your morphers," R.J. instructed.
The six obeyed, and a clamp from the side of the bracers the genin used secured the medals to the bracers. As for Kirabi, his medal had internal clamps securing it within the screen-slot on the top part of the morpher. "What do we do with these?" Haku wondered.
"Turn the dials on your morphers all the way to zero and use the call, 'Beast-Fist Strike Change!'" R.J. instructed. "Once those conditions are met, your morphers will use the power of your Tailed Beasts to forge a connection to the Universal Morphing Grid, the source of all Rangers' powers. You will have eons of warrior knowledge hardwired into your cells, enhancing your abilities by a factor of ten while armoring your bodies."
"That's incredible," Haku murmured.
"Yes, but you cannot use this power recklessly," Master Mao interjected. "It is only to be brought out against the strongest and deadliest of foes."
"We understand," Naruto said.
Karasu looked at R.J. and Master Mao warily. "Why didn't I get a morpher?"
"Those morphers are designed to work with the chakra of their Tailed Beasts," R.J. replied. "If I gave one of them to you, the feedback would tear you apart from the inside out."
Karasu silenced himself, although fuming on the inside.
"We won't let you down, Grandpa Zyukage," Naruto vowed. "That goes for all of us."
"Then from this point forward, you are the Tailed Beast-Fist Squadron Strike Rangers," Master Mao declared.
"Or . . . Power Rangers Beast-Fist Strikers," R.J. added. At the glances Master Mao and the newly minted Rangers gave him, he just smiled. "For something a little more fun-sounding."
End Notes: There you have it, the first chapter of Strike Rangers is finished. For the record, the Japanese and English titles are rough translations of each other, and just so you know, the Rangers will not be identified by color; distinguishable by color, but not identified by color. If you're wondering about the new characters introduced, R.J., Finn, Dominic, and Master Mao come from Jungle Fury, while Rio and Mele come from the Sentai original of Jungle Fury, Gekiranger, and serve as the basis for main antagonists and later allies Jarrod and Camille. Karasu and Renge are more or less original characters, although Karasu is based on the Karasu of Yuyu Hakusho in terms of appearance, albeit with a less apparently psychotic demeanor. Renge technically is the Takigakure ninja who was the Jinchuriki of the Seven-Tailed Beast, but as nothing much has been revealed about her save her appearance, I've taken it upon myself to elaborate on her character. The Blue Mystic Wizard that rescued her is technically canon, in the sense that his team preceded the "modern" Mystic Force Rangers, although whether he's alive or not in canon is another thing.
If you're wondering who Dai Shi's host is going to be . . . you'll see in the second chapter, but I think the criterion "full of anger, hate, and desire for vengeance" for possession by Dai Shi should give you a good clue as to the identity of that host. For the record, Dai Shi is also from Jungle Fury and serves as the impetus behind Jarrod's antagonism toward the Rangers, having possessed him for most of the series duration. In his true form, he is a ten-headed dragon, like was said at the end of this chapter.
All right, then, enough talking from me. Now that the Beast-Fist Strike Rangers have been given their morphers and marching orders, how will Naruto deal with being back in the village that scorned him as a child? Will Gaara encounter any faces from his past? And who is Dai Shi's new host and to what dark purpose will that host be manipulated by the Infernal Dragon? For the answers to those questions and others, read on for the next chapter and let me know what you thought of this one.