A/N: Minor spoiler, but since the episode will air tomorrow, and I'm not revealing too much (and I'm just too impatient to wait!), I am staring this story now. Hope you all enjoy my interpretation.
Legal: I do not own Power Rangers or the associated names, characters, places etc. Anything not covered by the above rights should be considered purely the creation of the author.
Rating: T- may be some adult themes and language.
The morning air was crisp, and it was clear that things were starting to get much cooler around the city. It was not going to be long before training outside would no longer be practical, so the Rangers had enjoyed it all while they could.
After training, Kevin and Mia were outside, tending to the garden, preparing the ground for winter. It wasn't like Panorama ever got especially harsh winters, but Ji seemed to be busy with other matters, and Mike and Emily had inexplicably disappeared, as they often did when there were boring chores to do, so it fell to them to prepare the ground so that when the spring came around, they would get another year of one of the most beautiful gardens any of them had seen.
Another year, that was a thought none of them wanted to really consider too much. While all of them had accepted their responsibility voluntarily, they had already been out at the Shiba House almost two whole years. Their second Christmas was a little under two months away. They had all put their lives on hold for their duty to the war effort. All of them were more than aware that the world didn't stop for them, and lives were moving on without them. Kevin had seen the closing ceremony of the Olympics on television, and knew that four years was a long time in athletics, meaning that even if they ended things soon, it would be an uphill struggle against his age to qualify in order to compete for his country as had always been his dream.
Mia had often thought about the kids at the play group. She had started working there as part of her therapy, but had ended up loving it with all her heart. She had resigned herself to the fact that most of the kids she had gotten to know, that she worked with, would already be in school. With another year, it would be a completely new set of kids she was going back to, presuming they accepted her back at all given the fact she had basically disappeared. As she prepared the soil, Kevin came across, pointing something out to her.
She looked up, noticing Ji heading out the side door. They had both noticed a change in him recently. He was spending a lot more time in his study, or on the phone talking to one of his many 'contacts', evident by the number of times he was on the phone speaking in another language. So far, they had figured out he knew at least a working level in Spanish, German, French, Italian, and was fluent in Japanese. Whenever he saw someone in the room while he was on one of these calls, he would close the door, or leave the room, a sure sign he was working on something secret, something he was deeply concerned about.
He opened the side gate, putting his phone away as a man came in. Neither of them had seen this man before, but given the fact he was dressed in oriental robes, bearing the Shiba Family Crest, they figured he had to be involved in the Samurai business. He handed Ji and envelope, giving him a respectful bow, which Ji returned. Kevin squinted to see.
"Is that...the Shiba Family crest?" He asked, gesturing to the envelope. Mia just nodded.
"It is." She confirmed, before pulling both of them back out of sight. She took a quick look around the corner, watching Ji head around to the opposite side of the house. She gestured Kevin to follow her, which he did quietly. She held up a hand to gesture to him to stop, before indicating he take up a position to see.
Jayden and Antonio were working out in the yard, taking the time for some gentle, friendly, and slightly flirty sparring. They could see by the look on Jayden's face that he was enjoying himself. It was a look that had been noticeably absent for the last few days. He had splashes of paint across his arms and face, and a few burns too, neither of which were surprising since they knew he had been focusing on perfecting the Sealing Symbol, but Antonio had obviously gotten him to leave the dojo to take a break. Whether or not sparring could really be considered resting was another matter, but knowing Jayden, there wasn't much else he genuinely enjoyed.
Ji made his way over as Jayden helped Antonio to his feet. They both saw Ji, and turned to face him, but seeing the serious expression on his face, they quickly became more serious. Ji just handed Jayden the envelope.
Mia pulled out her Samuraizer, casting a quick symbol. Kevin just looked at her curiously.
"What was that?" He asked.
"I made the air between me and them a little thinner." She explained in a voice so quiet it barely travelled to Kevin. "It'll make the sound travel further, to we'll hear them."
Kevin was about to lecture her about eavesdropping, but stopped when he saw Jayden reading the letter. His face slipped, and his muscles relaxed, almost to the point that he dropped the letter on the ground. He looked between Ji and Antonio.
"It's true." Jayden told them. "What Bernard said...it's true."
"The messenger was dispatched shortly before..." Jayden's words tailed off, before looking back to them. "This is it then. The others will finally know my secret. I only hope...I only hope they can forgive me."
"There's nothing to forgive." Antonio assured him. Jayden just shook his head.
"They might not see it that way." He answered, before walking back to the house. Antonio and Jayden followed him, leaving Mia and Kevin looking confused.
"What do you think he meant?" Kevin asked her. "What secret?"
"From the sound of things, we won't have long to wait to find out." Mia replied, getting up and heading inside.
Meantime, aboard the Junk, Octoroo was working hard on his new weapon. It was by far the most powerful and diabolical thing he had ever worked on, and it took every ounce of his skill and magic to ensure he didn't destroy himself, the ship, and a good portion of the surrounding area. One wrong move, and he knew what the consequences would be. He was just finishing up, closing over the metal casing and sealing it closed, smiling as he completed it.
It was a string of metal spheres, ended with one that had been engraved with a daemonic face, the largest of them. It looked unassuming enough, but the power within could be felt standing this close to it. He set it down carefully in a wooden box, lined with felt to stop it taking any undue impacts. All he could do now was wait for a response from the latest of his cohorts.
He turned around as he heard a shrieking sound, and saw a Nighlock flying into the room, landing on the deck. She had dark feathers covering her head, swept to one side, covering one of her eyes, and a lithe, though powerful looking body. Her right arm comprised a cannon, and looking at him, he could tell she was considering him carefully.
"Well, I see you responded." Octoroo stated as he checked an hour glass. "You're a little faster than I expected as it happens, I almost wasn't ready for you Fiera."
"The fastest hunter gets to eat." Fiera responded. "This reminds me, thank you for the snack."
"Well, I was wondering why my messenger hadn't come back." Octoroo answered with a shrug, unconcerned with the fate of the winged Mooger he had sent to locate her and deliver his message. If all went well, then he would happily pay the price. There were always more Moogers. "I take it he was...satisfactory?"
"I didn't come here to talk about my snack Octoroo!" She screeched. "Your message said something of a challenging hunt."
"Yes, of course it did." Octoroo answered, looking to her. "I have a great challenge for you, perhaps the greatest challenge of all. I want you to target the Red Ranger."
"The Red Ranger?" She asked. Octoroo held up a hand.
"You don't need to worry..."
"WORRY?" She cackled. "Where is he? Of course I'll..."
"Well, there's no reason for you to go out there without a little something to tip the scales." Octoroo told her. He picked up the wooden box, presenting it to her. "Here, just a little something to give that cannon of yours a little more...oomph."
She opened the box, and looked inside. Pulling out the string of metal spheres, she looked to it curiously, before looking to Octoroo.
"What is this?" She asked.
"It's a very special form of ammunition." He informed her. "They're called Fire-Flashers. It's a special project I've been working on."
"What do they do?" She asked as Octoroo took them off her, circling around her. He clipped the Fire Flashers to her right shoulder, at which she felt the energy flowing into her.
"The Red Ranger's clan carries great Fire Symbol Power." Octoroo explained. "The Fire Flashers are filled with evil flames from the Netherworld, which will cause that power to flare up inside him. He will be cooked from the inside out, being roasted by his own Symbol Power!"
"The Shiba Clan carry the power of the Sealing Symbol. They're the reason we've all been trapped down here for over fifteen years." Octoroo told her. "If you eliminate the last of the Shiba Clan, then by the time Master Xandred comes back..."
"There will be no one to stop him!" Fiera screamed in delight. "He'll...He'll rule everything! He'll..."
"He'll show great gratitude to anyone that helped him achieve that goal." Octoroo interrupted her, patting her shoulder gently. "Imagine how grateful he would be to the one who rids him of the only threat to his rule."
"I'll do it." She told him, preparing to leave the ship. "I'll let you know when it's done."
As she left, Octoroo just sighed and shook his head.
"Too easy." He responded. "Now, I just have to prepare my real plan."
The Rangers scrambled through the city after the Gap Sensor sounded. The memorial park was now swarming with Moogers. Fortunately, there weren't many people around. It was the week of Armistice Day, and if the attack had been on the Sunday, then there would have been many more victims. Indeed, it seemed odd that they attacked anywhere there were so few people. After all, the Nighlock attacked to create misery, meaning the more people there were, the better. Taking a baby's toy would create misery, but barely add a few drops to the Sanzu. No, they generally liked to go big when they launched their attacks.
Antonio ploughed into the first wave, clearing the path for the only civilians they found. He smashed them away, allowing the unfortunate tourists to escape.
"I swear, these guys get uglier every time I see them!" He exclaimed, cutting a path through them with his Barracuda Blade. Mike wasn't far away, and laughed in response.
"These guys have the market covered in ugly." He answered.
"Guys, we need to focus, just because it's only Moogers doesn't mean we can be complacent." Kevin reprimanded them. "The energy signature was too strong for just Moogers."
"We need to assume something else is out here." Jayden reminded them. "Just focus, pick your targets..."
"I know I have!" Fiera interrupted him as she appeared in a flurry of feathers, levelling her cannon arm at him. She fired, striking Jayden in the chest. He staggered backwards a few paces, struggling to remain on his feet with the impact.
He was about to attack, but just then, he felt power surging inside him. It burned and boiled inside him, erupting in a sudden burst that caused every inch of his body, every muscle, every nerve ending to feel like it was on fire. He struggled to contain the energy in his own body, feeling like he was ready to explode, before a blue flame erupted from his chest. He let out a hellish scream, falling to his knees.
She levelled the cannon again as the other Rangers were distracted. Octoroo had sent a contingent of Moogers to keep the others busy. He knew that if they figured out Fiera was there to focus her attacks on Jayden, the one they relied on to end the war, then they would immediately run to his defence, regardless of what it meant for them. Fiera was a skilled hunter, a sniper. While she was a powerful warrior in her own right, she was best as a sniper, picking a single target and concentrating on them until they were gone.
As she fired, it hit Jayden in the chest once more, sending him tumbling away. He got up, but after a second or so, he felt it again, only this time more intense than before.
He had been used to Fire Symbol Power, having grown with it his entire life. However, this was far more intense. This time, he clutched his sides, feeling everything burning to the point he almost felt like he was going to burst into flames and burn out completely. His vision blurred, and he struggled with the pain. As it flared up once more, he was no longer able to hold it in, and screamed out in agony, causing all the other Rangers to snap around at his cries.
"Jayden!" Kevin called out as he ran across. Fiera fired another shot, but this one hit Kevin as he arrived between them. Kevin was staggered, having taken a hard impact to the chest. He was a little winded, but stood on his feet, between Jayden and Fiera. He stood, clutching his chest, but he didn't react the same way Jayden had.
"I'm fine." Kevin insisted. "In fact...Mike hits me harder in training."
"It feels like...It feels like my insides are on fire!" Jayden told him.
"That's the whole point!" Fiera stated. "These Fire-Flashers cause his Symbol Power to flare up inside him. I'll burn him out with his own Symbol Power!"
"You made a huge mistake Fiera!" Mike remarked as the others finished with the Moogers, surrounding Jayden. "You know we'll never let you take out Jayden."
"Guys, you have to..."
"We have to protect the Sealing Symbol Power!" Mike interrupted him. "We'll protect Jayden."
"Well, that's just so heart-warming to hear." She taunted them. "Of course, you can only block a shot if you see it coming."
With that, she disappeared in a flurry of feathers. Kevin gripped his Spin Sword tightly as he gestured the others into a perimeter around Jayden.
"Alright guys, we know what she wants." Kevin called out. Jayden grabbed his arm.
"Kevin, stop taking hits..."
"She said it herself; those blasts are built for you." Kevin reminded him. "Whatever happens, she can't get to Jayden."
"Right!" They all chorused together, forming the perimeter, protecting their leader.
Back at the Shiba House, Ji and Brenda were watching the map. Brenda knew that Ji always worried when the Rangers went to battle. He was obviously closest to Jayden, but she knew that he loved all of the Rangers like children. He took his responsibility to take care of them very seriously, but given the transmissions they were getting back he seemed even more troubled.
Jayden had always been a prime target for the Nighlock, but now more than ever, it seemed like they had sent one with a single-minded focus on attacking him and only him. Even without a specialised weapon, nothing was more dangerous than having an enemy with such an obsessive focus on one opponent.
Just as she was about to comfort him, she heard the doorbell. He looked to Brenda, before getting up and heading down the hall.
The bell sounded again as he made his way down, his heart racing. After he was finished with it, Jayden had allowed him to read the message. He was expecting the same thing Jayden was. He crossed the garden, making his way to the garden gates.
Pulling them open, he saw her standing before him, and his heart stopped still. He could hardly believe his eyes; believe that it was possible that she was standing before him.
"I...I can't believe it's true." He stammered. "How is it possible?"
"There will be time for explanations later." She told him, heading inside and looking around. Ji just closed the door behind him, unable to take his eyes off her. The rumours, the secrets were all true; he couldn't hope to deny it any longer. She was standing in his living room.