PRICES GO UP AT THE GATE
1st Hand: Passing of the Rider
The year is 2017. It was over thirty years that the world had fallen under the grip of
Evil. When the people of the world were threatened, that’s when they appeared... A band of lone individuals that were created from the very syndicate that made them. They were remade as reconstructed humans with extraordinary power and sworn by the bond of justice to defend the world from this growing evil. They were from different parts of the world, but all going by one name: Kamen Rider. They fought to preserve the peace to the extent of their own lives. After their last battle with BADAN, the most feared enemy they ever faced was defeated, the Riders vanished and the world was at peace for some time. No one knows what really happened to them; some say that they live within society forgetting their ties to the past, while other rumors state that they may be dead. But there a few out there feel that they may have continued the crusade for justice in different ways. Our story begins in Nagoya where a young man goes by the name Kuro ‘Jack’ Shimada or by those who know him by two names: Kei or Dr. Black Jack. He recently graduated from Tokyo University with honors and runs a small, but famous family clinic in the vicinity of the town. He was well-known as a licensed doctor and also a shiatsu therapist. In his spare time when he wasn’t working, he played cards and thus got the name due to his favorite card game which is 21. He’s well respected in the field of metaphysics and studies the in-depth transformation of human energy and its reflection towards nature. He is also well-known and likable to the people since he treats his patients just like his own family and because of this, two factions have kept a wary eye on him: The newly rebuilt Sacred Hegemony Of Cycle Kindred Evolutional Realm (or SHOCKER) and The Corrupt and Ruthless Order of Shattered Shadows (aka CROSS). Although they both operate in secret, they have one purpose in mind: to capture Kei and use his knowledge for their own devious needs. The purpose behind Kei’s drive to become a doctor was due to a man whom he looked up to while in college, Hongo Takeshi: A part-time motorcycle racer now turned genetic scientist that holds an amazing secret. It was through Hongo’s research on nanotechnology that influenced Kei to pursue his career as a doctor. Their paths will meet down a street simply known as Fate and thus forever change the life of this young man...
Tuesday evening, 5:00 PM. The weather was cool with a slight breeze passing through the area. Just as Kei was about to close up the clinic, an elderly gentleman came through the door asking for the person in charge. Kei introduced himself as the doctor in charge prompting the old man to have a seat while fixing two cups of green tea just as he slid a briefcase to him telling him not to open it unless he understood the reason and responsibility behind it.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Kei replied sitting across from the old man sipping his tea glancing at the case then to him. He motioned him to sit closer while glancing side to side whispering with a slight gruff in his voice. “Are you aware of the dangers that loom around you? Because of your special talent, you’ve just become a target just like I have been...” Kei raised an eyebrow to his remark. “Target? By whom?”
The mysterious man took a sip of his tea while he explained his story in full detail.
“A former crime syndicate that I once fought against many decades ago. It was called SHOCKER and their plan was simple: they wanted to create reconstructed humans as train them to become an army of super soldiers for the sole purpose of world domination. I was one of the many `candidates` that they chose but I escaped along with others to fight against not only SHOCKER but other various organizations of evil.”
Kei listened with great interest as the gentleman uttered his real name along with his long forgotten name. “My name is Hongo, Hongo Takeshi but to my enemies and comrades, I am Kamen Rider Ichigo...”
To Kei’s amazement, he never knew that the gentleman that he let in was his idol and mentor, but to a greater aspect...the most powerful hero ever known. The stories and questions that whirled inside Kei’s mind left him just to ponder on this aspect. But at such a late hour, time was running short, especially for Hongo... Using whatever time he had, he explained the entire genealogy of the First Generation Kamen Riders, their own purposes for their fight against evil, as well as the current investigation that has him on the run.
“Kei, I’m entrusting this briefcase to you...”
Hesitantly glancing at it, he looked up to Hongo. “But what’s inside it, Doctor?”
“A power that those forces are looking for and I know they’re tracking me down...”
Just as he was about to explain, a large bat-like and spider-like creature broke through the window finding their target. Hongo shoved the briefcase to him standing to his feet dropping his fedora and trench coat to the floor facing his opposition. With a deadeye stare, he cracked his knuckles taking a step back. “Heh...so you found me? Well now, I promise you that I won’t go quietly.” Hongo shouts “Rider, Henshin!” and throws his right arm at a diagonal to his right then rotates it clock-wise until it’s a diagonal to his left, then he retracts it to his waist and thrusts out his left arm at a diagonal to his right. After that pose Hongo leaps into the air where the wind-pressure activates his transformation. Kei was both shocked and afraid while he could only watch his mentor fight both monsters with the briefcase held tightly in his arms.
“DON’T JUST STAND THERE KEI! RUN! NOW!!!”
At his mentor’s command, Kei left his clinic in haste carrying the mysterious briefcase as far away as he can. Without looking back, Kei ran as fast as his legs can take him and before he knew it, he found himself three hours away from the city. He finally stopped in a clearing in a forest where he was sure he couldn’t be found. This also gave him the chance to actually figure out why Hongo is a wanted man to begin with. He snapped the briefcase open and to his amazement, a bright light shot out and spiraled in brilliance around him for a moment and landed down in his arms like a feather. What he held before his eyes was a buckler and although the look was similar to Rider 1’s Typhoon Belt, there was a slight difference made on. Inside the buckler was the kanji sign ‘Tenkyu’ (which resembled a sword or the letter A) instead of a motor. In the background of it were a gold cross and a crown worn on top of it to signify its symbol. Kei instantly snapped on the belt realizing that it was through one man’s sacrifice that made his decision, and yet...he took hold of his own fate and made it his destiny.
“I understand what must be done... I shall carry the torch you passed on to me and finish what you started...”
With a deep and slow breath, he motioned his arms together like a cross and in response to his movements, the buckler flashed and felt the power form itself into a suit similar to Rider 1 except that instead of a scarf, he wore a red cape and a medallion that was embedded on his suit. The choice is clear and Doctor Kuro Shimada became....
KAMEN RIDER 21
So much time to deal with, and yet we're treating it with little care
2nd Hand: Rise of the C.R.O.S.S. Syndicate
Thinking of the situation he drawn himself into, Kei decided to lay low for awhile until he could find a way to defeat
the monsters and save Hongo in the process. Traveling back to the city by foot, he decided to stay with the only person he can entrust his secret to: Maiko Akibahara, his girlfriend. Arriving around 8pm, she was surprised to see him at this time of night, let alone the shape he was in. After he came in, they urgently sat down laying the briefcase aside while he explained what happened to him. He realized that he may be considered ‘dead’ in the public eye but still wanted by C.R.O.S.S. and `Shin` SHOCKER. One thought occurred in his mind and that was if Hongo was captured, how to go about saving him. Another thought was if were to be eliminated, should he seek the path of revenge or avenge his death for the sake of peace? As Mai understood his plight, she leaned into his arms shivering in fear for him.
“Mai, it’ll be alright. I have a hunch that they’re after me since I’m wanted by the both of them.”
She gazed up into his eyes with tears streaking down her cheeks as she searched his heart.
“Kei, if something bad happened to you, I’d…”
He quieted her down by simply kissing her lips and rubbing her back until she fell asleep gently patting a cover over her. As Kei opened up the briefcase again, he felt something solid as he opened up a hidden pocket that carried an unmarked videotape. He figured if this videotape came with the belt, it must be very important to check out. Inserting the tape that he found, Kei turned the volume down to a comfortable level and watched the video that was encrypted on this tape. Strangely this tape featured Hongo’s last exploits broken in certain pieces and while watching this, Hongo explained in detail exactly what was going on in what seems to be a factory or a plant of some sort. From what his notes gathered, the monsters were being mass-produced and given the surname ‘Club’ and the drones that resembled the old SHOCKER troops were split into two sub-groups: pawns and crucifixes. Thus C.R.O.S.S. somewhat took a page out of SHOCKER’s handbook and supposedly using it against this new SHOCKER group. Another scene shows the creation of the Tenkyuu buckler which was known as ‘Kamikaze’ or roughly translated as ‘God Wind’ and as Kei realized, this power that he has in his possession is beyond measure and if fell into the wrong hands, the world would utterly be in ruin. Before Kei stopped the tape, Hongo left a special video message that was specifically meant for Kei.
“I entrust and empower the name and power of Kamen Rider to my heir, Shimada Kuro. I know that Kamikaze’s power can be fully harnessed if properly nurtured and trained.”
It wasn’t too long until he heard the trampling of footsteps coming up to this room and quickly placing Mai on his back, he escaped with the tape leaping out the fire escape. He very well couldn’t fight in such a narrow place let alone transform in order to fight back. Taking solace in what used to be his clinic, he took some time to make some type of deterrent. With the use of his playing cards, some syringes of penicillin and a cotton swab, he managed to create something he can defend himself with. Hiding Mai in a safe spot, Kei quickly ran up to the roof just as the pawns were looking for him. He raised his hand up to the sky and firmly posed in a cross uttering the words “KAMI HENSHIN!!!” instantly suiting up into his Rider form. Doing the classic battle stance of Rider 1, he charged into battle taking care of the pawns with little effort. The crucifixers were a different matter altogether since they wielded cross-like weapons, it seemed too much for the new Rider to handle until he brandished his poison tipped cards giving himself a slight advantage over his opposition. As the fight went on, Mai awakened from her sleep and peeked out the broken window to see what was going on. While Rider fought back, the buckler during the heat of the melee as a light appeared to him in the form of a sword. Hearing Hongo’s voice, he took the blade in hand and quietly listened to what he needed to tell him.
“Take the sword and become the ‘ace’.” The sword was made of a divine property and its metal was so strong that it can tear through any material without problems. Mai secretly watched the mystery hero fight off the drones with no difficulty with his Ace Blade. She found something familiar with the way he moved in battle that reminded her of Kei. Finishing off the last of the drones, he threw his cape back sheathing his sword while he heard something strange travel on the wind and instantly moving out the way of some dart-like projectiles and managed to deflect it with his blade sheath.
“You are REALLY something for a wannabe hero… Surrender the buckler NOW!”
Keeping his senses sharp and his sword close, he readied himself into position replying to the raspy voice.
“For someone who likes to hide, you certainly talk a decent threat. Show me who you are first…”
A grotesque, disfigured spider creature leapt out from the darkness launching its arms at Rider while spewing a venomous acid at the same time. Phasing in and out on both attacks, he managed to score a few blows off the monster which resulted in a chase across the city and through a heated battle, a figure fell to the pavement hard and shuddered while trying to recover itself. Within a split second, Rider revealed himself as the smoke cleared facing his groggy opponent. Rushing at full speed, Rider landed a mighty jump kick that held the monster in place and pummeled him with a barrage of kicks that followed with a supercharged Rider Kick as he screeched to a halt as the monster flew back and exploded. As soon as the battle ended, the grasshopper-like hero’s image shattered back into his secret identity as Kei passed out from the overexertion of his powers. Mai quickly ran out to catch him as he fell to the ground and brought him back to whatever is left of his clinic and cradled his unconscious body in her arms. Hours later, Kei woke up and thought it was definitely too dangerous for Mai and decided to leave, that is until he felt a small tug on his lab coat and saw Mai’s lovely blue eyes stare right at him. He decided to explain what happened to him and played the tape for her. She watched and slowly understood what was going on. Hongo showed the photo of an old man and made it imperative that he meet with him. His name is Tobei Tachibana and has been known as the ‘Father of the Kamen Riders’. He was responsible for training the Double Riders as well as the rest of the Generation 1 Riders. Hongo gave Kei his next mission: Find Tachibana and receive special training from him.
So much time to deal with, and yet we're treating it with little care
3rd Hand: Behold! The Name is Kamen Rider!
Using the old backstreets to avoid detection, Kei and Mai sought after the garage that Hongo spoke of. Armed with status-effective needles for protection, Kei sidestepped every crack upon the ruined road. Within the distance, they saw something resembling as an old garage; it was ragged and run-down due to the seasons and time, although it has been used over many decades, this was the place. With only his strength alone, Kei tried to lift the gate but it was rusted shut. While Kei struggled to open the place, Mai went inside the nearest town searching for information about Tachibana, although few know of the name they knew of him, but they knew of the man. After many hours, Mai returned to Kei with an incredible lead in their search for Tachibana. Apparently what happened was that the garage relocated to another prefecture. The good thing was that it was not too far from their location. A kindly merchant drove them to the next town where the location was and got off as soon as they reached it. It was under the name “Tachibana’s Body and Repair Auto Shop” and decided to go inside and find Tachibana and proceed with the training. They were greeted by a shapely young lady dressed in blue overalls, a slightly loose white shirt with strawberry blonde hair and light brown eyes. Her uniform had splotches of oil and with a cloth; she rubbed her hands clean meeting her visitors. She introduced herself as Tachibana Aki, Tachibana Tobei’s great-granddaughter; apparently the old man passed away due to old age and this garage was one of the many parts of his inheritance he passed to her. “So you own this now?” Kei asked in wonder while he looked around the shop. Aki smiled tapping her wrench on her shoulder softly with a nod. “Yep, I’m very skilled in the fine art of the wrench.”
She served some hot green tea and cookies while temporarily closing the shop just to get to know them better and find out exactly how they knew of this place. Kei went into a detailed explanation of what brought them here and what they had went through to get where they are now. Aki listened in interest and she brought them over to an old auto poster and rested her palm against a panel revealing a secret passage that leads them downstairs. Once reaching the ground floor, the light lit up in response to the user and what were shown weren’t normal motorcycles but they were the Rider Machines.
“With Rider 1 missing, you’ll need some wheels to get around as well as do battle with, I can also make you some fine side arms for you and your lady. Now, I’ll just need those needles of yours, and I’ll do the rest.”
After being treated to a wonderful dinner, Kei decided to turn in early since the trip getting here drained him past the point of exhaustion. Aki called Mai for some girl talk while she worked on the side arms and for the most part, they talked about Kei and his lifestyle before all this. Taking a pack of playing cards, Aki managed to squeeze the needles onto the cards while carefully keeping her hands away from the tips of the needles. Mai had very little knowledge about what a Kamen Rider is, let alone who he is so Aki gave a detailed explanation of the history of the Kamen Riders and the important role that her great-grandfather played.
“Long ago, my grandfather tried to fend off the armies of SHOCKER while they ravaged the town, it wasn’t too long when two young strangers showed up and defended him. Their names were Hongo Takeshi and Hayato Ichimonji but they went by another name: Kamen Rider Ichigo and Kamen Rider Nigo, the Double Riders. Because of this act, they saved his life and out of gratitude, made the Cyclone and New Cyclone; the first set of the Rider Machines. Many of the Riders who know him called him the “Father of the Kamen Riders”. He shared this secret to me because he trusts me…” She quietly shed a tear remembering him for a moment while she finished the side arms and moved onto a long-awaited project she had worked on for months. Aki asked Mai if she seen what Kei’s henshin looked like and she couldn’t answer since she didn’t see it, but she did see someone that had Kei’s movements except it was a bit faster than he was. Aki continued to listen while working on her project as Mai explained what he looked like. He looked exactly like Rider 1 except he wore a cape and a medallion instead of a scarf. He moved like lightning and fluid like water but as the smoke cleared from the battle with that spider monster, the form shattered and that’s when she learned the truth that Kei was the Rider.
“So with no codename or training, he held his own against a constructed beast.
Interesting…” Aki said with a sly smile looking over to Kei while putting the finishing touches on the project. Mai shot a glare at her as a warning to not even think of taking him away from her, and to Aki’s behest, she giggled at the thought. Although the thought DID cross her mind, she wouldn’t take him even if he is the new Kamen Rider. She patted Mai on the shoulder while going into a detailed explanation with the bond that Tachibana had with the Riders.
“In order to stand a chance against C.R.O.S.S. and Shin SHOCKER, Kei needs to undergo special training so that he can fully unlock and utilize his Rider power to the fullest. As a Tachibana, it is my duty to help the Kamen Riders anyway I can.”
Mai was uncertain if this felt like the right to do but the truth she does know is that Kei is the only hope to save Hongo and the world, so she entrusts him in Aki’s care. The real question is will Kei be able to endure and survive this special training to deem himself worthy of the name `Kamen Rider`?
So much time to deal with, and yet we're treating it with little care
4th Hand: Shocker's Revival
Somewhere hidden off the coastline near Ryukyu lie the secret base of Shin Shocker, a reincarnation of SHOCKER. In charge of this evil group is the once feared Great Leader that the Double Riders faced 30 years ago. Under him were his subordinates: Ambassador Hell, Dr. Shinigami and General Zol; which were also beaten by the Double Riders.
The hooded figure pointed to the screen as an image came on.
“Gentlemen, turn your attention to this footage we’ve acquired.”
The video footage showed the battle between the new Rider and one of C.R.O.S.S.’ constructed beasts. As they watched the fight intently as it came to its stunning climax as they saw the spider beast destroyed by a variation of the Rider Kick. Ambassador Hell broke the silence with a theory that brought a plan into immediate action.
“He may resemble our nemesis from the past but there’s something different about him. Perhaps this is Hongo’s son we’re looking at.”
Zol banged the panel angrily shouting over to Hell. “Rider has a son?! If he is just as powerful as Rider One, we must eliminate him and this C.R.O.S.S. as well so that we can take back our spot in dominating the world.” Dr. Shinigami eagerly rubbed his hands together kneeling to the Great Leader. “My lord, allow me to send the first of our attack force to deal with these threats.”
With an out stretched hand, he allowed the sinister plan into motion. If all goes accordingly, then nobody could stop SHOCKER.
Elsewhere, at the underground training simulator, Kei’s training went underway as soon as he woke up. He entered the chamber with his energy and focus at maximum, ready to take on anything. The first trial dealt with Kei doing his henshin stance. The purpose in doing so strengthens the arms in range, speed and power. He constantly made his movements faster and tighter as the three minute limit winded down to zero. While Aki and Mai looked on, some familiar faces showed up to also watch the new Rider in action. Summoned at the behest of Aki, they arrived after they heard the news of their missing comrade to get further information on this matter. They felt that this new recruit would need all the help he could get. After completing his henshin training, he moved on to the next part which was endurance. The mission was straightforward: to defeat as many drones in five minutes. Each drone had two readings: Kick Power and Punch Power. This would determine the strength of that individual’s power. Watching intently at him, they were impressed by his progress since they never seen a Rider in civilian form have so much untapped power before. They could only wonder how much strength this young man has in his Rider form. This only proved that he can definitely hold his own in a fight and reliable when the odds are against them. Kei’s strength grew exponentially as the timer ticked down to its last seconds. Once the buzzer sounded, Kei heaved while catching his breath. Although exhausted, he managed to wave his hand to show he was okay.
Once he was well enough to walk, he went topside. Upon his arrival, he noticed some unfamiliar faces surrounding Aki. Instinctively, he charged at them but felt light-headed in doing so, he fainted due to expending his energy from training. A burly, older man caught him and helped him to a seat handing him a glass of water.
“Don’t be alarmed, we’re all friends here. Reminds us of someone we know, don’t we Kazami-san?”
Kei sipped his water listening to all of them talk amongst themselves as Aki introduced the newest recruit to the rest of the team. Shocked, Kei glanced at them then to Aki. With a small smirk, she began her explanation.
“These men are Kamen Riders.” Glancing over for a moment, he took another sip and raised a brow. “Are these the other Riders Hongo spoke of?”
What Kei never knew about Kamen Rider was only through one man but he never imagined there were so many. Hongo’s story intertwined with these men in some way. They were brought together once again to help out the young Rider, save their leader and the world. Hongo’s former partners, Ichimonji Hayato and Kazami Shiro fought alongside him back in the 1970s when DESTRON and SHOCKER were the main threat in the world.
Along with them, were Joji Yuki, Jin Keisuke, Daisuke Yamamoto, Joe Shigeru, Hiroshi Tsukaba, Kazuya Oki and Minami Kotaro. Kei found himself in the midst of the eight legendary Kamen Riders.
Hayato pushed himself off the wall and glared at Kei momentarily pointing his finger at him. He warned him not to get in the way once the fighting starts but Kei gave him a smirk in return and assured him that he can really hold his own in a fight. The two Riders shook hands with each other tightly clasping their bond of friendship and camaraderie. As Hayato headed towards his bike, he smirked and thought to himself, “Yep, just like Ryo…”
“Well no Kamen Rider could be complete without his very own specialized combat bike and Kei, this is yours.”
Aki said with a smirk as she and Mai threw the cover off to reveal the newest addition to the Rider Machines: the Kamikaze. Dressed in a mixture of white and gold; on the body were a pair on gold wings and the Ace of Spades on the nose of the bike. As Aki went through all the specs, she explained the mission at hand.
“This will be the most difficult mission you've ever embarked on since you're not only dealing with two of the world's most feared crime organizations but you must rescue Rider Ichigo as well. Since there are 10 of you, you'll be split into three teams.
Team A will take on the task of finding Rider One's whereabouts and knowing who our enemy is, no doubt they'll try to throw a wrench or two in this plan, so be on guard.
Team B will infiltrate C.R.O.S.S. HQ and stop the production of the newest monsters under the codename 'Joker'.
Finally, Team C will carry out the task of finding the Lost Riders. They may be able to help us and we'll need every known Rider to fight this last battle. I'll leave it to you on what task you'll take.”
A short time later, they decided to undertake each task accordingly. Team A consisted of Rider Ace, Rider Two and V3; Team B was made of Amazon, Riderman, Skyrider and Stronger; and Team C were comprised of X, RX and Super 1.
As the Riders revved up their engines, Mai ran over to Kei giving him a farewell kiss for luck and a soft smile.
“Be careful and come back safe.”
He smirked with a slight nod as he averted his attention to the gate opening up the hatch. “I don't plan on dying today...”
Hayato nodded to Kei replying to his comment and bowed slightly to Mai.
“Spoken like a true Rider. Don't worry, he's in good hands.”
With that said, they flew off just as the green light initiated and leading the charge was Kei uttering the words “KAMI HENSHIN!!!!!” as he lead the team as Kamen Rider 21 in their quest to save the world.
So much time to deal with, and yet we're treating it with little care
5th Hand: Arrival of the Deuce Rider
There was a disturbance near the ravaged ruins of the old DESTRON base. The Riders sped in through silencer mode as to not draw suspicion to their location as they begun their investigation about CROSS. While Rider Two and V3 were looking for clues from the rubble, Ace found a slightly used but active laptop computer. Successfully hacking into the database, he found some interesting contents between the connections of the three syndicates. Apparently, DESTRON made CROSS as a backup just in case DESTRON was eliminated, but CROSS began to act independent, they broke ties with their maker and declared war against DESTRON’s ally, SHOCKER. With both organizations at each other’s throats and the world as the ultimate prize, who would put a stop to this war? As the other Riders stood behind Ace, they noticed how the base was before they arrived.
“Rather unusual, I thought we destroyed all this.”
“We did, but I suppose we missed a room first time around.”
V3 and Rider Two were surprised to see how much of the base had been under looked since their first battle with DESTRON. Apparently, this base had a secret base underneath it and they used it to make CROSS. As they continued their investigation online, they clicked on a link that leads to an underground viral video that CROSS forgot to delete during their progress. Taking a page out of SHOCKER’s book, they were in the process of making a new Rider of their own; one that would follow orders without question or hesitation. The video also showed footage of the subject in question undergoing a different kind of brainwashing. Unlike what Hongo and Hayato went through, this was more intense than what they went through. Instead of using serums, hypnotic drugs, or gas to induce their subjects, they did something entirely worse: mind wiping. The victim underwent severe mental flashes, subliminal messages and hypnotism all at once. The purpose is to break the individual’s mental will down to nothing resulting in losing their own identity thus giving CROSS the opportunity to create the perfect soldier. The end result was encoded as Rider Soldier DEUX. (or Deuce) as a match against the new Kamen Rider Ace. Rider Two stepped back a bit shuddering in fear as he saw the outline of the new Rider.
Ace and V3 noticed as he snapped off his helmet and rubbed his face slowly for a moment. Holding his hand in front of them, he turned and shook his head.
I was the cause of this…if I had followed Hongo at the beginning; it wouldn’t have to come to this…
He snapped his helmet back on and faced his comrades again.
“I was a result of what they’re doing now.”
V3 nodded while placing a hand on his shoulder.
“Hayato, you were a victim…and CROSS is just picking up on what we stopped decades ago.”
With flash device in hand, they decided to download the evidence and bring it back to HQ for further investigation. Just as it finished, the computer activated its self-destruction sequence and it didn’t take them that long before they ran into trouble in the form of the crucifixers with the Riders defending themselves and the chip. The mysterious Deuce Rider also made an appearance observing the prowess of the three Riders.
Rider Two urged Ace to go after Deuce while he and V3 took care of the grunts. Deuce backed up as Ace drove after its counterpart at high speed. If anything, Kei continue to keep his promise in his mind that no one was going to die today. The two Riders flew down towards a dangerous collision course to where a battlefield suitable for them that be worthy of a fatal confrontation. Going at an insane speed of 650 MPH, they shot down a long rocky ramp en route their destination. After a heated race, they allowed their bikes to cool down as they faced off.
“Quite impressive…for a human. Although you lack spirit since you are ruled by emotions.”
Ace cracked his knuckles in response to that shrewd comment.
“And what makes you think you’re better than I am?”
Deuce performed the Rider stance as it readied itself for battle against Ace.
“I am the perfect soldier, I have no attachments or thoughts that will hold me back in defeating you!”
Ace and Deuce locked themselves in hand to hand combat as the two clashed in a battle to see who the superior Rider was. Neither side gave or lost quarter in any of their abilities and skills, until Ace sent his opponent against with a powerful side kick. Deuce gasped as Ace sprinted for his follow up attack and quickly countered with a right hook to block Ace’s uppercut. Enraged by his first attack, Deuce flew at Ace with a rampaging flurry of punches, followed by a gut-wrenching slam as Ace gasped hard listening to his opposition for a moment to figure out if Deuce was either human or machine. Ace shuddered as he struggled to his feet raising one of his arms to defend himself with.
“…senses fading…must live…can’t die here…”
Without a thought, Rider Two and V3 sensed their comrade in danger while the grunts whittled down to a few. Hurriedly, they punched hard to his location as fast as they push their bikes as fast as they could go. As the fight came to its climax, just as Deuce went for the kill, a small alarm went off on Deuce’s bike just as Ace willed himself up to continue the fight. Although brutally wounded, he stayed determined not to die here. Deuce let out a gasp of fear seeing how resilient Ace is. With his outfit torn, and his helmet slightly cracked, he reared his fist back in readiness. Deuce screamed just as Rider Two and V3 arrived on the scene and backed up for a giant leap.
“SPLIT FIST!!!” Ace screamed channeling all his reserved energy into a stunning nerve punch to palm attack blasting Deuce back near its bike and cracking a bit of the helmet off as a slight light gasp was heard and quickly turned away from him and hopped on the bike away with a roar.
“I’LL NEVER FORGET THIS KAMEN RIDER ACE!! YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LAST OF ME!!!” With that said, Deuce sped off just as the other Riders appeared before the heavily injured Ace. Kei slightly saw the faces of Rider Two and V3 before passing out.
V3 nodded and helped Rider Two lift Ace onto his bike and began to ride off as he tapped a button activating a homing beacon that sent a signal back to base.
“Tachibana here, what’s your status guys?”
Rider Two hesitated a bit in his reply as he drove faster with the fire of vengeance in his eyes.
“We got some interesting info to bring back as well as an injured Rider.”
Aki swallowed a bit with a nod. “…Understood, we’ll be waiting.”
The mission was a success but the war between the Riders and the combined alliance/war of SHOCKER and CROSS is far from over.
So much time to deal with, and yet we're treating it with little care
6th Hand: The Legacy of Tachibana-The Return of Kamen Rider Ichigo
The reconnaissance team of Amazon, Riderman, Stronger and Skyrider made their way through what seemed to be an enemy free zone that leads to the former headquarters of G.O.D. (Government of Darkness) now occupied as C.R.O.S.S. territory. According to Aki, this is the main breeding ground to their ‘Joker Project’ that they plan to unleash.
Quietly noticing in the bushes, the Riders began their strategic plan on infiltrating C.R.O.S.S. main factory. Riderman and Skyrider went on ahead and examined what they’ll be up against from the inside. Staying out of sight, Riderman used his night vision to assess the situation. From their observation, they saw what these manufactured beasts were composed of: the old monsters they fought decades ago. In that instant, Riderman intercepted a strange signal that kept getting stronger while the rest of the team was still deciding on where to break in from. Skyrider noticed an opening coming from the air vent and along with Riderman, they agreed on where to strike. He explained the plan on how they can get in and about what was waiting for them on the inside.
Stronger shook his head in disbelief glancing at the building for a moment. “Who knew our enemy would be a cult? They went so far as to recycle our old enemies…”
Amazon nodded patting Stronger’s shoulder for a moment. “Yeah, but this be the place so...we got a job to do.” Riderman agreed but pointed out that two can easily do the job compared to four. “Well, I’m interested so I’ll go.” Skyrider glanced at his comrades for a moment. “Besides something tells me we’ll find more than monsters in there.” Stronger went along with him without hesitation. “When you put it that way, it’s worth checking out. So what about you two?” Riderman replied revving up his bike slightly. “We’re going to lookout from here. Stay frosty guys.” They parted ways as Skyrider lead Stronger in through the ventilation shaft to avoid being detected. To keep track with the outside, they used Morse Code via antennae. This way, they could patch the information back to their headquarters where Aki was waiting on standby. During the mission, Skyrider noticed a slightly odd lackey that went towards the core room. “Stronger…you DID see that right?” Stronger nodded and decided the time for stealth has ended. Lifting the hatch, they slipped down quietly and followed him. As they cautiously inched closer, they noticed that he was carrying a CD. He was out of view as soon as he entered the Master Computer room. Making extra sure he was not being followed, he locked the door behind him just as the Riders were closing in on him.
“Damn…we messed up.”
Stronger clinched his fist just as Skyrider began transmitting their report.
“Well, hold on…maybe not…”
With the rest of the team on the outside getting wind of their report, they passed it back to headquarters as Aki went through the database with the information given. Shortly after, she found out that strange lackey happens to be an undercover agent for the FBI and an old acquaintance and ally of the Riders: Kazuya Taki. His motif was disguise and infiltration. According to his peers, he has the skills of a ninja if he was so much an officer of the law. Upon the many missions he went through, the most memorable was when he and Hongo faked their deaths to destroy Gel-Shocker from the inside.
Wasting no time, Aki forwarded their plan to Taki as the Riders waited for the door to open. Once it did open, they rushed in as he shared his side of the story.
“Well, we’ve been after these guys since they appeared but they always seem to evade our grasp. But with this program that I just installed, it’ll cause a total system shutdown and short-circuit any mechanical lifeform with the compound.”
Although impressed they wondered about where Hongo was and Taki remembered their being a lower level that he was being held.
The place was all too familiar since his first entanglement with Shocker and with C.R.O.S.S., there seem to be no big difference.
“There’s only one way to get down there and we got to play this plan by the book.”
Going back into his disguise as a C.R.O.S.S. agent, he ‘captures’ the Riders and using the elevator, he takes them to ground level where Hongo was being held. With armed guards at every turn, the plan was going to be easier said than done. They tread very lightly in the belly of the beast as he explained that he caught the Riders snooping around and threw them in with Hongo. Taki taunted him a bit while sneaking the key to Hongo’s shackles and walked away from the cell making sure the ploy fell through.
“Stronger? Skyrider? How did you…?”
Skyrider quickly unlocked Hongo’s locks while Stronger quietly opened the cell about an inch to fool the guards into thinking that they’re still trapped. Taki swiftly ran into a dark corner tapping out a code to Riderman to decipher.
(`Three bugs have escaped the roach motel` )
Amazon listened intently while he and Riderman were finishing up with setting the remote bombs in place. Keeping their wits about them, they reported the update back to base while Kei slowly recovered from his wounds, having his bandages dressed and changed.
“You found Hongo and covering your escape route? How long will that take?”
Aki listened in while Taki sent a reply while the others helped Hongo escape from his cell and managed to hide along with his comrades as the alarm sounded.
“15 minutes tops give or take. Hongo, do you have enough strength to transform?”
Hongo nodded taking a deep breath and assumed the stance, shooting his arm upwards and out regaining his lost strength, he uttered the words “Rider…HENSHIN!”
With a whirr on his belt, he leapt into the air and changed into Kamen Rider and joined the fray as he comrades leading the escape team. Skyrider and Stronger were pleased to see their leader back into action as they patched a code to Riderman who just finished setting the bombs in place. He told them that they were set for 20 minutes so they’d have to hurry since there was little time to spare. Hurrying as fast as they could, they were being chased by the guards in hopes of recapturing Hongo. Unbeknownst to them, they ran into a trap as a giant constructed beast blocked their only escape route. It resembled that of a rhino with the power to boot. With time not exactly on their side, they needed to end the battle swiftly.
“Alright, we’ll need to go at max power to do this!”
Hesitant at first, his fellow Riders weren’t exactly sure if that would be wise to pull that off, Ichigo took his stance for a moment and then took off. It was at that moment, he heard the roar of the engine echo in his mind as he went at ramming speed at the monster, Skyrider and Stronger followed suit as they took off beside him hearing that same roar. Taki wasn’t too far behind as he managed to push himself to catch up with them with gun in hand just as they reached their limits. Out of nowhere, three bikes blasted from the outside and the Riders took their respected machines.
“LET’S GO RIDERS!! CYCLONE V2 MAX POWER!!”
“SKY TURBO MAX POWER!!!”
“KABUTOROH!! CHARGE UP! MAX POWER!!”
At blazing speed, the Riders charged through with their ultimate attacks making short work of the monster and escaping the complex. With Kazuya covering their backs with a smoke grenade, he hitched a ride with Amazon and escaped with the team just as the explosions went off. A moment later, they watched from a distance leaving the reporting to Riderman.
“Tachibana-chan? Mission Accomplished…”
“That’s great! Is everyone alright?”
“Exhausted, but okay…”
Riderman smiled as the word had been passed that the mission was a success. Once they managed to check their fuel and their situation, they would head back. As they took off again, Stronger slowed down from the pack as they reached the halfway point. Amazon noticed and slowed down with him just as Stronger’s head slumped down. Wasting no time, Amazon killed his engine prompting the others to stop as well.
“Joe? Hey, you okay?!”
Stronger could faintly hear the sounds of his comrades call for him and struggled to hang on what little life he has left just as part of his helmet broke off showing part of his face.
He smiled faintly to his old friend Hongo offering his hand to him. He quickly grasped his hand and listened to him. During their escape, he performed the Chou Den Dai-Sharin Kick at full power and it drained almost all his strength to do it. Just to keep himself from exploding required his will to live but it’s only a matter of time until his life expires.
“Hongo…I have one…request…”
“Name it, Joe…”
He smiled closing his eyes for a moment. “Announce me…so that the world will remember this…”
Ichigo nodded as he called his allies over just as Stronger struggled to stand on his own two feet dragging himself to the edge of the cliffside with Amazon, Skyrider and Ichigo standing behind him. Stronger’s helmet crumbled as it revealed his secret identity, Shigeru Joe. They spoke his entrance as this being his dying wish. Ichigo went first, followed by Skyrider then Amazon.
“The heavens call…”
“The earth cries out…”
“The crowds roar…”
With a tightened fist, he presented himself proudly as he drew the Hero stance using the last of his strength.
“All…calling on me… all calling on me… All calling on me to strike back against evil. Now listen up villains! I am the warrior of justice, Kamen Rider…STRONGER!!!!”
With the last of his energy, his body stopped in place while in the Hero stance and the Riders gave a moment in silence with a farewell salute to their fallen comrade before they left for headquarters. Seeing as the situation has changed, their only hope lied in Kei since he has great potential in being a true Kamen Rider.
So much time to deal with, and yet we're treating it with little care
7th Hand: The Doctor Meets the Detective
X, RX, and Super 1 were charged with the daunting task of locating the lost Riders: ZX, ZO, J and Shin. From what they recalled, they fought alongside ZX to destroy BADAN in 1984. Some rumors have been spreading that J was seen sometime ago. RX had a faint memory of him fighting what seemed to be Shadow Moon. Jin patted Kotaro’s back reminding him that he died a hero and not as the evil individual that he was made into. While in their civilian form, the Riders racked their brains as to figure where ZX and J might be. From that small lead, it could point them to where ZO and Shin are hiding.
Using the Rider database, they found the following information:
Ryo Murasame- Returned to his career as an aircraft pilot. He is currently employed to the Sahara family since 2010.
Masaru Asou- Currently a wanderer, still searching for purpose in his life, he was last seen near Hokkaido.
Kouji Segawa- J’s former name. He’s been on a mission to find others like him but hasn’t been seen or heard of since 1994.
Shin Kazamatsuri- Exiled due to him being a potential threat to the world. He was the first mutant Rider and was dubbed as “The Masked Rider”. Whereabouts unknown.
Kotaro decided to start the search by going back to his family to find Ryo and hopefully gain more about where to find the rest of the missing heroes. As they left for Sahara, a suspicious character shadowed after them. Few moments later, Kotaro was welcomed with open arms just as they passed the main gates of Sahara Enterprises, most of the layout had changed but the workers were the same. They waved to their former comrade just as he was testing a new prototype from the assembly line. As they watched the pre-exhibition flight, by skill it seemed like Ryo would be Kotaro’s equal as far as piloting goes but as for proving himself as a hero goes, there was no one better than Ryo. As soon as they found time to reminiscence about their last time together.
“It’s good to see you been busy again, Ryo.”
“I have you to thank, Kotaro. I never thought of seeing myself flying again. But why the sudden visit, something wrong?”
Kazuya explained the situation in detail and while Ryo listened intently on what was going on, he was shown three profiles of the forgotten Riders and was asked if he has any information on where they could be found. He had a slight lead on where Masaru could be found, but as for Kouji and Shin, he had no recollections of them. Ryo decided to go with them since his help may deem necessary and to himself, he wishes to dig into the history of Kamen Rider. Just as they left, the stranger continued its shadowing as they rode to the next region where Masaru is rumored to be. According to Ryo, he worked as a florist in a well-renown nursery that went by the name “Ichirin no Hana”. They found him while he was tending to the plants while taking inventory just as his shift was ending. Ryo spoke with the proprietor just as Masaru came out of the greenhouse.
“Are you Asou Masaru?”
“Yeah, I am. What business do you have here?”
He led him away from the others temporarily showing him a profile of J while Ryo explained the crisis at hand. Masaru remembered teaming up with him once but forgot what or who it was they were fighting but he always wanted to know why he left.
“I think I know where is, however if you’re going to try to convince Shin, it won’t be easy."
Ryo paused for a moment glancing over to Masaru with a surprised look.
“I didn’t say anything about Shin?”
“You might not have said but you did think of it.”
With a smirk and a kick to the pedal just as he was about to leave, he passed the word that there’s a lead and Masaru was going to lead them to it. Mysteriously being one step ahead of them, a tiny grasshopper leapt back to its master and reported what was going on. Somewhere near Ryukyujima, J was meditating on a vision he had for some time: He saw various Kamen Riders in a war that could possibly change the world forever and he could sense the Riders coming for him as a familiar chirp woke him from his trance. Offering his hand, he brought the bird to his shoulder and listened close to its message; he found out that a stranger has been spying on the Riders for some time. They stopped their cycles just as they reached their destination where J awaited their arrival.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Riders of Heisei.”
“You’re Kouji Segawa right?”
“I used to be called that, yes. It’s J now.”
“I take it you’re a telepath as well?”
He nodded in response to ZX and ZO’s questions as he listened intently to their dilemma and while he soaked in all the information, they heard a rustling in the bushes prompting the team to defend themselves just as they saw the face of whom was following them.
“This is as far as you go, Kamen Riders!”
The stranger appeared in a white trenchcoat with matching fedora and wore a sly smirk. The fedora was draped over the eyes while pulling out a derringer on the group. At closer glance, the figure happened to be a woman. She followed them for one reason: to find and destroy Kamen Rider Ace.
“You followed us just so you can take one of us out?”
“Precisely, and I won’t hesitate to shoot you down to get him…”
ZO motioned X and Super 1 to go with RX to find Shin while he, ZX, and J deal with the femme fatale. Before speeding off, J gave the coordinates to find Shin but as far to recruit him would be a bigger challenge. As they faced off, she gave herself some distance and threw off her coat instantly changing into the mysterious Deuce Rider. Deuce had a slight advantage over Ace since he wasn’t a cyborg, nor superhuman. How would Deuce fair against three Riders? Their fists would determine that outcome.
Elsewhere back at HQ, Kei faced off against Rider 1, Rider 2, V3 and Riderman in a handicap endurance challenge as they threw their strongest attacks at him. In this exercise, it was all about toughness and in this case, Hongo, Hayato, Shiro and Joji were going to make sure that Kei wasn’t going to be a normal Kamen Rider but he was going to be trained as the best of the best. Kei constantly held his own against his superiors as they were wailing away on each other. Tension filled the air as the battle came to its climax; all eyes were on Kei as he stood strong yet weakened throughout the fight as he slumped a bit forcing his arms into position just as his body froze in place. As everyone watched, Mai fell into shock as she screamed in tears fearing the worst for her boyfriend.
Back at J’s home, the battle between Deuce, ZX, ZO and J fell into a stalemate. J stopped just as he felt something disturbing within the balance of nature as he stepped in between the combatants.
“Why’d you stop me J?”
“This is not over between us!”
“There’s something wrong, I can sense the new Rider’s energy fading. Deuce, if you are like one of us you can feel it right?”
Deuce felt a throbbing pain in her palm as she was forced to revert into her civilian form. ZX tilted his head slightly to J wondering what is going on. J walked off from them a bit explaining that he could sense energy from vast distances and being attuned to the Earth, causes him to pick up on energy. Using his telepathy, he called Beri to his side and upon her arrival grew giant size and began to climb onto her back leaving the others stupefied for a moment as he offered them a ride as well.
Meanwhile back at the HQ, the Riders pushed Kei’s paralyzed body out and only one person has the remedy to cure the situation: Joji Yuki. Being knowledgeable in most subjects, he did know something about nerve attacks (since Super One did teach him a few techniques). While Hongo explained, Joji gave a nod and with a palm strike to the ribcage freeing up the blockage of air that caused Kei to freeze up to begin with. It didn’t take long for fate to play its hand for the reunion of Ace and Deuce. Will destiny serve a Royal Flush or a bad hand?
So much time to deal with, and yet we're treating it with little care
8th Hand: Return of the Forgotten
Kamen Rider, not just a name or title but more of a legacy. Many men have lost what’s most precious to them yet at the same time; they accepted the path of their intertwined fate. Among the ranks lie three men who reluctantly took their paths and find themselves at the crossroads.
Masaru Asou: Former lab assistant to Dr. Mochizuki and chosen as the guinea pig to become the being now referred as Kamen Rider ZO. The first of many Riders who are caused by genetic mutation instead of being a cyborg. He fought to protect Mochizuki’s son, Hiroshi from Neo-Organism, the end result of Mochizuki’s research and ultimately merged with his experiment to become the “perfect lifeform”. After restoring order and freeing the doctor from his own nightmare, he tried to find himself back to society but even in that time, he could not escape what he became and found himself in the battlefield again.
Kouji Segawa: A former investigative reporter that was killed by the Fog Mother and was brought back by the spirits of Earth as Kamen Rider J. He fought and defeated the Fog Mother and her children keeping the world at peace ever since until now.
Shin Kazamatsuri: Once a simple hard working researcher who had a family as well as a promising future but lost it all in a coup de tat and an assassination attempt by government agents that took the life of his future wife and son. They wanted Shin because he was a new type of super mutant that was dubbed as the Kaizo Ningen or Cyborg Soldier Masked Rider. Considering himself an outcast, he’s been in hiding but he’ll soon realize that he must confront his inner demon and step onto the field once again…ultimately for the last time.
Somewhere in a secluded cave off the coast of Ryukyu, Shin ponders about his life and how can he fit in society without fear or being hunted down as a fugitive. Since his disappearance, Shin has had reoccurring nightmares of his monstrous Rider form. Feeling torn between his normal form and his Rider form, he wasn’t sure if he considered himself to be human anymore. Shin cringed at what he was becoming and curled in a ball as he was fighting off the spasms that he’s been having since. It was then that he heard the voices of ZO and J enter his mind. Shin couldn’t reply since he was in far too much pain, it seemed like what they were saying to him was static.
“Shin, it’s us…ZO and J…talk to us, we want to help.” Although he could hear them in his mind, Shin felt the pain intensify as he felt the transformation take shape as he screamed into his bestial Rider form. They sensed the change as Shin’s consciousness went into a coma. The beast was in a state of rage and confusion as it noticed the two riders backing up in defense with a low growl. His memories, jumbled as if he was trying to distinguish them as friends or foes. Keeping their distance, they continued to reason with him. J stood forward a bit leaving him with some sound advice.
“You are one of us, believe it or not. Only you can decide if you want to continue running away or take a stand. Know this however, you are a Kamen Rider and no Rider will ever stand alone.”
ZO nodded standing alongside J. “Only you can defeat the beast within Shin. We can only guide you where you need to be.”
With that said, the two riders changed into light orbs and created a path for Shin to follow. The beast struggled to move as his mind was swamped with memories of his life as he came to from his coma. Opening his eyes, he saw the beast and stared at it as though he embraced it.
“I’ll run away no longer, if this is my fate, then I shall become the Rider!”
The external form of Shin’s grotesque appearance changed as the Rider form began to take a new shape and form. A new power surged through his body as his resolve was renewed for he wasn’t fighting for survival anymore, but something he wanted to create for his family: the future. ZO and J’s spirits returned to their bodies just as they reached their destination. As soon as his opened his eyes, Shin Kazamatsuri found his resolve and instantly took off to do what needs to be done.
Meanwhile, Kazuya and Kotaro were on the lookout for Shin. Traveling over almost every region of Japan in the hopes of seeking information of the self-exiled Rider, their results seemed empty. They realized that the island regions weren’t checked and their search continued.
Elsewhere, Beri landed in front of HQ allowing the band to dismount and enter the compound and found themselves greeted by the other Riders and hurried to see Ace. With the combined efforts of Riderman, ZX, and J, the numbness left Ace’s body and found himself noticing some new faces he never seen before. Due to his training, he was temporarily locked in his Rider form.
“So you must be the new Rider. I’m Ryo Murasame, otherwise known as Kamen Rider ZX.”
“Kei Shimada, former doctor, nice to meet you. I’m Kamen Rider Ace.”
J found it weird that he would say ‘former’ just as Kei explained that he is a doctor, but lost his clinic. Since then, there is very little use of him especially of what’s been happening with the uprisings of Shin Shocker and C.R.O.S.S. In a sense, Kei wasn’t completely certain of being worthy of being called a Kamen Rider since there is so much he doesn’t know as well of the intense training. Ryo understood the feeling of uncertainty and told Kei that the training and the power are important but not as important as knowing what you’re fighting for. That is the reason many of the men here are Kamen Riders, because they chose to accept their destiny. Shiro shared his story of how the Double Riders once saved his life after being converted to a cyborg; he once fought for the sake of revenge but once he realized there was more than just his matter at stake, he learned to utilize his newfound power to do more help than he thought possible. Kei understood as he glanced over to Mai for a moment and back to Shiro with a nod. Hongo acknowledged Kei personally as a Kamen Rider because he knew he made the right choice as his heir to the name. Aki and Mai watched the monitor as a giant grasshopper appeared on screen. At first, they couldn’t make out what was on its back but Aki remembered the only Rider with a giant grasshopper: J.
Hayato leaned over slightly tipping his hat observing the arrival of their guests. However he didn’t recognize the woman behind ZX, Aki shook her head to Hayato as they continue to look on as they watched them enter from the main lobby. She told him specifically not to do anything until she tries something first. While the rest of the team caught up on old times, the mysterious woman kept her eyes on the new Rider. There was an air of mystery about her seeing as she wore white with a fedora to match. Mai noticed the glance she was giving her boyfriend and felt the need to confront her however Aki tugged her as a means of not wanting to cause any unnecessary bloodshed over this. Mai nodded slowly but kept her ears open if not her eyes of the matter. Just as she was to make her move, Taki stopped her with a friendly greeting.
“Well now, you must be new here. I’m Kazuya Taki, FBI Special Recon Unit, and you are?”
Without looking, she told him her and rank as he continued to get to know her with a slight wink to Aki, he took her outside. As a courtesy request, he asked for her to empty her purse and pockets for security measures. Checking her ID, he had to make sure she was legit.
“Junko Shuichi…and you say you’re a detective?”
She nodded slowly glaring at him suddenly. Rubbing his ear slightly, he continued while respecting her personal space.
“So, really...why are you here and what’s with the femme fatale look?”
Keeping her back to him, she glanced slightly to him.
“To tell you that, I’d have to kill you…”
Taki shrugged as he left her just as she quickly pulled out her derringer at him she has secretly concealed in her purse. Taki wasted no time in pulling out his pistol at her as the two faced off.
“I suggest you put that toy away unless you want to get hurt.”
She smirked a bit at him thinking it wise to join in the fight against her former creators as well as testing herself as a Rider. Taki came back inside, sitting by the bar and downed a martini settling her nerves. Apparently, he had never met a woman that made his blood curdle like that. Aki raised a brow wondering exactly what happened as she approached him. He explained that she is a fellow agent of the law, seemingly trustworthy and was as quick as a razor. Hayato heard enough as he pushed himself off the wall and gave a nonchalant ‘OK’ gesture behind his back to Aki and Kazuya. He greeted her with a smile and took in the scenery and glanced at the people.
“And these are the Kamen Riders?” She asked with a furrowed brow lifting her fedora from her eyes slightly.
Hayato nodded while stuffing his hands in his pockets while clicking his teeth a bit followed by a sniff.
“Yep, you’re looking at them. But outside of that, we’re just trying to make something of this world.”
Jun listened with interest while keeping her eyes peeled on her target.
“We didn’t become cyborgs just because we wanted to be. For most of us, we had no choice so we fought hard to live and defend this world. Kei is the only exception because he isn’t like any of us, but he is a Kamen Rider.”
Meanwhile in the training room, Kei and Hongo faced each other before going into Rider mode. He asked if his newfound power was ever a burden in his life. Kei shook his head and mentioned that his life has more purpose than being a doctor although he enjoyed helping people. He was aware of the risk that all Riders faced and made certain that he will continue to uphold the name ‘Kamen Rider’ until his dying breath. Hongo nodded with a smirk and drew his fist outward.
“I’m glad to hear this and to have met you, Dr. Shimada.”
“Likewise, Dr. Takeshi.” Kei drew his hand over his chest right above his heart in defense, replying with a smirk.
The two instantly changed into their Rider forms initiating their sparring session. Their movements, attacks and defenses were tight while they were going at it in high speed. The sound of their exhibition was so loud that everything quieted down just to hear the fight. Eventually they backed off for awhile, in hopes of breaking each other’s guard as if it was a stalemate. The silence broke as soon as both Riders took off and charged at each other, sprang up in the air and unleashed their attacks on each other.
As the Rider Kick clashed with the Shuffler Kick, their powers flared and bounced off each other as if repelling forces. They continued their sparring session as they launched a mid-air colliding with their fists as they were locked in battle. Ichigo seemed pleased to know Ace could go toe-to-toe with him, even in a sparring session. Jun suddenly stood up feeling drawn into the sparring. The Riders heard the intensity coming from the room and as their duel came to its climax, all was heard was a weakened groan and a thud. Kei ran to Hongo’s side and offered to carry him out on his shoulder.
“Dr. Takeshi…” Kei glanced over to Hongo as he gave him a weak smile and a nod. He knew that he was right to choose Kei as his successor since he knows the battle with SHOCKER will be his last. Hayato came to the aid of his timeless friend and partner asking if he’ll be alright. Hongo nodded from his seat and rested his hand over his shoulder with a slow nod and a smile. Kei went out for a moment for a breath of fresh air. He sighed slow and deep while gazing up at the sky just as the sun was setting. Closing his eyes for a moment, he could only fathom what would’ve become of him had he not left Hongo’s side the first time they met. For Dr. Kuro Shimada, a moment was all he needed to reflect on his life. As addition to being a doctor, he’s a masked crime-fighter so in a sense, he is a hero and there was nothing wrong with that. Jun came outside with the same notion as Kei that she needed a moment as well but she needed answers.
“It’s you…You’re the one I’ve been looking for, Rider Ace.”
Kei quickly came out his trance after hearing that name. Jun gave a tiny smirk and shot her finger at him demanding him to answer a few questions.
“Why…why did I lose to you… My strength is far superior to yours, but you have something I do not understand…”
Kei turned to face her and cracked his knuckles with a soft glare at her.
“Simple, I have something to fight for…”
With that said, Kei raised his fist and formed a cross with his other wrist uttering “CROSS HENSHIN!” transforming himself into Kamen Rider 21. Jun wasted no time throwing off her jacket and instantly changed into the Deuce Rider. They clashed their fists more than the first time they fought. Their battle attracted the attention of the rest of the team as they looked on with intensity, especially Hayato and Hongo. It was more of a close-quarter battle compared to their first time, which was a mixture of both range and close quarter. This time around they held nothing back as their kicks met and shuffled against each other at breakneck speed. Deuce was once surprised that a mere human is a match for her. She sensed Hayato’s words echo in her mind. Just as she was aiming for Ace’s chest, a tingling sensation penetrated her body and her mind was at war within itself as Shocker’s ambitions clashed with Hayato’s ideals for a better world. Clenching her head in pain, she felt her brain short circuit causing her to revert and collapsed to the ground. Ace picked her up and carried her back in where she was under observation under the supervision of Joji and Aki. Putting Jun under the neuroscope, the scanner showed there was a nanochip program that was installed in the deepest recesses of her left brain as it appeared to be malfunctioning. Most of the Riders understood that all too well since the majority were cyborgs. Hongo simply assisted by going back to his research on nanotechnology. According to his notes, trying to infuse advanced nanites to the human mind can cause a roulette of sorts. Either the host will evolve or devolve in human nature. In this case, Jun’s enhanced strength and superior personality was triggered by this. It was Kei’s presence that caused this sudden change and once she saw him as he was, the chip implanted in her blew a fuse.
Meanwhile, Kei sat deep in his thoughts while his fingers smoothly rubbed the rim of his mug assessing the situation while the rest of the team were going and discussing their stratagem for their next operation, Mai took a seat next to him and with a cute and sexy ‘Hi Doctor’ voice, he felt his ears perk up as he turned slightly to Mai with a small smile and sighed a bit.
“Kei, what’s wrong?” She leaned over a bit laying her head on his shoulder, feeling quite comfortable with this moment. Kei sighed while watching his tea ripple a bit.
“I’m at a loss here Mai. I don’t know what I can do from here on out.” He said with a short sip just as his shoulders sank a bit with a sigh.
“You can only do what you can. The Riders are in a meeting, Joji, Hongo and Aki are working on Jun, Kazuya is probably looking into something as we speak, but I think you just need to take a break.”
Kei sniffled a bit with a nod and took a sip of his tea staying quiet as Mai leaned on his shoulder with a slightly depressed sigh, pouting a bit at him. For the moment, he let out a slight groan then sniffled again. Kei glanced left to right for a second then took a sip again.
“Say, why don’t we go out on a date since it’s just us?”
“Why Kei Shimada, are you asking me out?”
She smiled coyly at him shrugging her shoulder against his just to pry a smile out of him. A tiny smile escaped from the corner of hiss lips as she rose from her seat and playfully dragged him from his seat as they left headquarters for most of the slow evening. During this short moment of peace, Kei managed to enjoy his time with his girlfriend. He shared his innermost thoughts with her when he was working at the clinic, had some fun at the amusement park, ate some sea-salt ice cream and watched the stars for the remainder of the night. For the first time, Kei had never felt so alive like this in awhile. He felt his assurance renewed just as Mai snuggled up to him while he ran his fingers through her hair softly.
Back at HQ, Hongo and his crew finally finished their operation on Jun. After many grueling hours of searching for a middle ground of Jun’s conditioning, they managed to find a way to have her more human than machine. Carefully discarding the control chip that was extracted from her brain, this latest atrocity from SHOCKER demanded an immediate retaliation and Hongo was more than willing to finish this once and for all. This time, this will be the most epic and dangerous fight the Riders have ever faced.
So much time to deal with, and yet we're treating it with little care