Kamen Rider: Convergence
I worried about starting another Rider story with a couple of unfinished ones sitting on the backburner, but the ideas from those are gonna be incorporated into this-and besides, the 'spark' for this one has hit me way more...ah, well, in any case I hope you enjoy.
(Incidentally, my 'Kamen Rider Tackle' one-shot on this site is canon to this story, but that won't become relevant until the third arc of this so don't worry about it for now.)
Kuuga Chapter—Part 1
Mika hummed to herself as she skipped down the road—rehearsal today had gone great! She couldn't wait to tell Jean and Ms. Enokida and Mr. Godai and about it—and mom and—
She came to a dead halt, pressing her hands to her head and biting her lip.
Everyone did their best, but there was always going to be a giant dad-shaped hole in her heart. She was sure that #4 guy was trying his hardest, but fatalities were still mounting by the day. Every empty seat in class was painful to look at.
In her daze, she never noticed the gentle rain of golden feathers falling around her, but the heavy footfall from behind was enough to bring her back to her senses, and she turned to see—she wasn't sure what.
At first she thought it was another Unidentified Life Form, come to finish what they started with her family. But from the pictures and news footage she'd seen, they were earthen-hued animalistic monsters; this figure was like a knight of old, resplendent in shining gold armour.
"Natsume Mika…" it rasped, the words grating, metallic. "2014: The second Kuuga. This will not come to pass." It raised a gilded, ornate staff, the needle-sharp lower end aimed at her as she stood stock-still, frozen in terror and confusion. "I will destroy every Rider!" it snarled, thrusting the weapon down—
—only for a second figure to materialise between them in a swirl of white light, another metal man, this one in red with a great horned crest rising from his head. One arm immediately shot up, blocking Mika's would-be assassin's strike. "Far enough, Odin," he said. This one's voice was quiet yet oddly carrying.
"Kabuto…" the golden one replied, failing to stay calm.
"This girl, right?" the man named Kabuto asked, indicating over his shoulder to her with his free hand's thumb. Then with a sudden burst of motion he flung Odin back, standing up straight and raising an index finger towards the sky. "Grandmother said, Today's world exists to create the world of tomorrow. Live today to create the tomorrow you desire." His gesture swung downwards until it was Odin he was pointing at. "I won't let you take tomorrow's Riders!"
Odin fell still for a moment, before making up his mind; a card of some kind was ejected from his belt, which he caught and slotted into his staff, snapping it closed around the card.
"Time Vent," a synthesised voice declared—and in a shower of golden feathers, Odin was gone.
Kabuto sighed. "This again…I'll follow you wherever you go, you know." He turned back to Mika for a moment, nodding to her. "Grow up strong, okay?" Then his hand dropped to his waist, flipping a switch on the left side of his belt.
Another synth voice: "HYPER CLOCK UP". Kabuto's body blurred as if with acceleration, then vanished, leaving Mika standing alone, completely dumbstruck.
Even with everything else that was going on, no-one was ever going to believe this.
Ichijou kept one hand held back, signalling for the squad behind him to hold. For the thousandth time he checked his rifle. For the thousandth time, it was fine. They finally had ammunition that should really put a dent in these monsters.
Another crash rolled in from afar. Godai's fight with the beetle Grongi had moved out to the nearby forest, leaving the bird one alone in the stadium the police now crouched in, stealthily making their approach. It was fine. It'd be okay. Godai had put himself through the electrocution process again. Last time it had given him his 'golden power'. A second time should be more than enough to win this one.
Godai didn't seem so certain of himself anymore, though. He tried to act as upbeat as always, but Ichijou at least could tell. Not everything is said out loud.
Just then, an enormous pillar of fire erupted from the forest. Ichijou hoped with all his heart that was the Grongi's death. Whatever it was, it was enough to distract the bird Grongi—who seemed to act as some kind of judge for their death-games—drawing its attention, its back completely turned to their hiding spot as it made a new mark on its tally-board.
Ichijou gave the signal to Sakurai's squad, and both leapt out of hiding at once, advancing in staggered formation down the bleachers, opening fire as soon as possible. The judge was caught completely off-guard and staggered forwards, falling to one knee as the Nerve-Breaking rounds dug into his back, shredding his white cloak.
Just as he was starting to take some real damage, though, something swept through the police ranks, swiping Ichijou off his feet. Before turning his attention to spot their new assailant, he chambered another round and snapped off a final shot from where he lay, putting another powered-up bullet straight into the injured Grongi's head. Only partway through its transformation, it slumped to the ground, eyes empty.
That dealt with, Ichijou could turn his attention to their new problem. It didn't take him long to identify. The smell of roses on the battlefield meant only one thing.
"B1," he muttered, picking himself up and glaring at the black-dress-sporting woman standing at the centre of the crowd of dazed police officers.
"I warned him the Linto had progressed," she said of her fallen ally, taking a few steps down. "He should have listened."
You won't get away this time… His rifle had fallen some ways away, but Enokida had provided pistol rounds as well, and he went for his revolver—only for the rose Grongi to smack it away with a suddenly-extended green tendril, her arm now transformed up to the elbow. Her face hardened and she completed the process, shifting from her human appearance to a monstrosity of plant-like sinew and thorns. She'd never revealed this form before. Clearly, in managing to kill such a high-ranking Grongi and disturb the 'games', the humans had crossed a line.
It was chaos. The orderly firing lines had been broken, shots fired wild, mostly missing. Even those that did hit didn't seem to make a lasting impression. Evidently she was a different class of Grongi from their previous target. Officers were being thrown around like rag-dolls, one or two impaled straight through as her fingers continued to extend and retract, like sentient vines, impossibly strong.
Ichijou dived for his rifle—and just as his fingers closed around it, her foot stamped down on it, splintering the weapon's middle section and breaking it in two. He looked up into her monstrous face, seeing death in the gleaming eyes.
No, damn it…I'm not done…Yusuke—!
And then an engine roared, and a white motorbike practically flew in from above, smashing into the Grongi and carrying her all the way down the steps into the main part of the stadium, screeching to a halt and letting her fly on several metres with the built-up momentum before hitting the ground hard.
She rose quickly, having not taken any real harm, growling a string of threats in the guttural Grongi language.
The bike's rider dismounted; given the events of the past year, Ichijou had half-expected to see Godai, but as the stadium's lights illuminated their saviour's face, it became clear that this man was at least a generation older, stern-faced, powerfully-built.
He wore a biker's jacket and scarf, but no helmet. His breath didn't frost in the chilled night air. His stance was statue-like, without the tiniest shiver despite the cold. He hadn't felt such things in a long time. For Hongo Takeshi is a modified human: a cyborg.
'B1' had managed to recover her composure enough to remember to speak a language the humans understood, demanding, "What do you think you're doing? Who are—"
"HAAA!" The mighty kiai that leapt from Hongo's lips as he flung his arms out at his sides, a heavy studded belt materialising over his jacket at the same time, was enough to awe the Grongi and the entire police squadron into silence. He thrust his right arm across his body, then slowly rotated his stance, rumbling "RIDER…" as he turned. Then with startling suddenness he withdrew his right and pumped out his left, now a mirror image of his original stance. "TRANSFORM!" he bellowed, leaping an inhuman height into the air.
The circle on the front of his belt slid open to reveal a rapidly-spinning turbine, which rapidly accelerated, emitting waves of multi-coloured light that washed over him. When the light cleared and he landed, he was clothed in black and green from head to toe, highlighted by gleaming white gloves and boots. His helmet was decked out with large red compound eyes, tiny antennae, and a multi-layered steel jaw. The overall impression, backed up by the pattern of his chestplate, was of some kind of grasshopper man.
B1 was understandably taken aback. "Another new Linto weapon?"
Hongo slowly raised his gaze towards her. "Between Shocker, Badan and the aliens in Shibuya I've been kept busy for a long time…I hoped we could leave things here to this 'Kuuga' I've heard about. But the situation keeps escalating…I can no longer stand by and let you Grongi do as you please!"
Grongi…Kuuga…how does he know those names? Ichijou wondered. Who—what is he? Although, something about the man's transformed appearance seemed oddly familiar. Like an old story he'd heard as a kid, but couldn't quite remember…or that he'd been told to forget?
"Time to grow up, Kaoru. I'm sorry, but there's no such thing as—"
His eyes widened, his breath catching in his throat. It couldn't be.
Hongo leapt to the attack, somersaulting over the rose Grongi's pre-emptive swing. Now facing away from each other, they both swung around, forearms colliding as they swivelled to face each other again, quickly pushing off and backing away.
She lashed out with her tendril-fingers, ten deadly swaying weapons reaching for him—he ducked and cartwheeled through them untouched, dropping and sliding inside her guard before rising with an uppercut to her chin, easily dodging back out of the way of her return blows. The man's martial skill was simply breathtaking.
Despite this, she didn't seem to be slowing down, no matter how many hits he landed. "That doesn't hurt a bit," she taunted. "Don't think you're escaping alive—or them, either." She indicated the police. "You're just an annoyance…you'll tire out soon."
Hongo had reached the same realisation. "Then how about this?" He lunged, knocking her out of her guard with a quick one-two punch, then jumped at her and ran up the front of her muscular frame, kicking off to launch himself into the air above her, turning a full backflip and coming back down with one leg extended.
Just like Godai! Ichijou realised.
With a yell of "RIDER KICK!", Hongo slammed into the Grongi, a mighty boom emanating from the point of impact; he landed on his feet and skidded backwards as he rebounded, while she was hurled to the ground, rolling away uncontrollably.
The bug-patterned hero sagged a little, breathing hard—this was usually enough to end a fight, but she was still moving. Did I at least do some damage this time?
Slowly, she climbed back upright, her inhuman expression inscrutable. Then, she laughed. "Was that all? What are you trying to do with an attack like that?"
Damn! Before he'd caught his breath, she was upon him again, her attacks coming closer and closer to hitting home each time. Finally, one clipped him and he staggered back a step—she didn't waste the opportunity, and smashed him to the floor with one great fist. The blows rained down one after another, only a few blocked by the desperate guard he threw up in front of his face, scoring gashes and cracks into his costume.
Eventually, he managed to roll away, pushing himself up but swaying heavily as he tried to focus on her. What is this power…?
"Get back here," she grunted, flicking her wrist and sending one hand's worth of vines out to ensnare him, slowly dragging him in towards her.
That half-memory was getting stronger in Ichijou's mind. But…this isn't right…he can't… He almost had it, but it slipped away again. But he was certain that was he was seeing wasn't how it was supposed to happen.
Then the floodgates opened, and he stumbled forwards a step, almost involuntarily—on instinct—yelling, "Don't give up! Rider!"
At first the other officers just stared at him in bewilderment, but before long they began to have the same creeping thoughts. The same inescapable familiarity. There was something important they'd put aside a long time ago.
"Go for it!"
"You can do it!"
Hongo's feet dug into the ground, resisting the rose Grongi's pull. "Do you…hear that?" he grunted.
"Inane pleas, you mean?" she teased. "What is 'Rider', anyway? What are you?"
"Hrr…" Body trembling with exertion, he tore one arm free of the tangle of vines. "Rider Chop!" The edge of his hand scythed down blade-like, severing the tendrils and freeing himself completely. He half-collapsed, falling to one knee and putting a hand out to support himself, but stared defiantly up at her. "You know what I hear?
"The children they once were are calling out to me. In each of their hearts is someone who can still believe that a hero will save them. And to protect the dreams and wishes of those children—" He clutched at his cracked chestplate. "—even if it kills me…that is Kamen Rider!"
He surged to his feet, clenching his fists in front of him. "Cyclone!"
Hearing an engine rumble behind her, B1 darted out of the way just in time as the Rider's bike zoomed past her of its own accord. Hongo leapt aboard as it passed him, circling around and aiming for her again, gunning the engine. Again, she dodged, but this time he kept going, hauling the front wheel up as he reached the other side of the stadium and planting it on one of the enormous pillars holding up the roof.
Then, impossibly, the bike began to climb up the vertical pillar, speeding right up to the very top of the stadium, whereupon the Rider leapt off and out into the open air. At his speed, an enormous amount of air blew through the turbine on his belt, spinning it up again. Spin, Typhoon! Wind, give me power!
One, two, three somersaults, forcing even more wind through the Typhoon belt, finally letting gravity overtake him and lancing straight down at the Grongi in the same jump-kick position as before. His movements past her, up, across and back down had all been so unexpected it took her until he was inches away to finally track where he was, with no chance to dodge. Power surged from the wildly-spinning Typhoon down into his leg, a flame-red aura of light enveloping his foot. "LIGHTNING RIDER KICK!"
This time, the attack punched straight through her, shearing her body in half, Kamen Rider landing behind her, forcing himself not to pitch over in fatigue. It wasn't until he'd remounted his fallen bike and sped off that the police broke out of their daze, dizzy with emotion—relief, loss, embarrassment, confusion.
One of them was already sprinting for his car, though, pointing it at the woods as fast as humanly possible.
"Uh…" Godai slowly emerged from unconsciousness, wiping the bleariness away with each blink. The breathing next to him was familiar. "Mr. Ichi—" He paused, realising where he was; Ichijou's house, private enough that there was no need for the formality. He gave a smile. "Kaoru."
"How are you feeling?"
"I...why am I in your bed?"
"Why wouldn't you be?" Ichijou responded, hoping he'd remembered Godai's words from that day on the roof well enough to echo them.
"Heheh." Godai's smile widened. God, how could he do that? No matter how dark things got, he was always there with a thumbs-up and a goofy smile, an assurance that no matter what, it would be okay.
He was pretty sure Godai Yusuke was some kind of miracle.
There's no way I deserve him.
"What happened to that guy?"
Ichijou sat up in bed, resting his back against the wall. "You got him. I guess the second shock worked…"
"Yeah!" Godai sat up too, sounding excited. "I turned into a black-armoured Kuuga! The power was somethin' else...it was only just enough, though."
"Right, you were pretty out of it when we picked you up. But...wasn't there a warning about a black Kuuga in what Miss Sakurako translated?"
"Yeah, but...that was a four-horned Kuuga," Godai said cheerily, miming a pair little curved horns on his forehead with his fingers. "Back then I still had two horns. So I think it's okay."
"If you say so...I'll get you something to eat." Ichijou hopped out of bed, grabbing and shrugging on his shirt from the bedside table. As soon as he got into the kitchen, though, his phone rang.
"This is Ichijou."
"All units are being called in, effective now!"
"What? What's happening?"
"This one's not like the others—just—get in here! Bring #4, please!"
Whatever the Grongi was like this time, it had to be stopped. He knew that. But couldn't Godai get one day of rest? They put him through so much. But there was no-one else to turn to.
Well...maybe now there was. But the Kamen Rider had left to parts unknown, with no way of contacting him. They couldn't rely on him showing up again. He'd have to tell Godai about that whole incident later.
With a pained look, he turned to walk back into the bedroom and deliver the news. "Yusuke...I'm sorry, but we need—"
The TV was on. Godai stood in the doorway holding the remote, staring in silence at the news. The anchor was terrified, crouching behind a burned-out car as a Grongi stalked down the road, occasionally flexing its arm and conjuring a massive fireball, torching passersby alive with every sweep of its hand. He recognised the silhouette, too, from right back when this all started.
"I'm going." Godai's voice was trembling.
"Right...okay. Just...that's #0. This won't be like any other—just…" Ichijou half-turned away. "Stay safe."
"It'll be okay." Godai sounded like he was desperately trying to believe himself. "It'll be fine."
If anyone's wondering why Baruba (Rose Grongi/Unidentified Life Form B1) didn't explode when she died, think about the couple Grongi killed by the police or each other through the course of the series, none of which exploded. So I don't think that's necessarily just what happens when they die. I think it's a result of Kuuga's power being channelled through them. Which is why you see the stamped Kuuga symbol from where Godai kicks them glow intensely before it happens. And when he used Rising Mighty form for the first time, he mentioned to Ichijou that the explosion might be a lot larger—not because of the Grongi he was facing, but because of the form he was using.
So yeah. Grongi, unlike most Rider enemies, don't explode automatically, and Hongo is a cyborg and not a mystical kinda-Grongi…whatever Kuuga is, and also it would kinda suck if he saved those cops only for Baruba to explode and kill them all, right?
Anyway, the Kuuga arc will be three chapters long, as the sort of introductory piece, with most arcs probably being a fair bit longer than that; every phase 1 Heisei season will get an arc, with Decade serving as the climax, and returning Riders abound. (And more girl Riders 'cause I love this series but it's not...great...with that.)
Okay, see you next time! Chapter 2 is just about written so shouldn't be too long in coming!