Death and Life
The boy flew at him, screaming for his death and completely unaware of the fact that he was flying into yet another dimensional gate. He would not be able to escape this fate; he would be slammed into the wall of the cavern, and Waferdanos' Villus Subjecti would rend him into nothingness.
Before he could begin to consider the threat of Akane Makishima and thus to formulate a plan to deal with her, he sensed something swift-moving flying at his back. Turning to look over his shoulder at the projectile that was moving to strike him, Yentsui found that whatever it was it spun like an airborne circular saw.
And then he had no more time for contemplation, as he found himself flung through the very gate that he had opened in hopes of defeating the Dark Gigantic. That, however, was not the worst of his problems... The sudden twisting, tearing pain in his limbs, head, and body left him half-blind from the force of it; reeling and unable to concentrate well enough even to command Isis to assist him.
When the dimensional gate that he had opened began to close for lack of power, he at first thought that he would be cloven in two. But, not a second after Waferdanos' Villus Subjecti had torn into his body, did he feel a pair of slender arms wrapping around him and pulling him through the swiftly-closing dimensional gate.
When Waferdanos had made his attempt to assist Yentsui, as impulsive as the action had been, he had decided that he had better hold Isis in reserve until Yentsui's strategy had either succeeded or failed. When Waferdanos' Villus Subjecti tore into Yentsui's body, he had Isis by the younger Zoalord's side in the time it would have taken a human to blink twice. One of the Villus Subjecti tore into her body as well, opening a hole twice the size of his fist between the flesh of her waist and the right side of her hip.
If Isis had been conscious to feel the pain of her wounds, the fact that her right leg was hanging by a mere few shreds of flesh would have likely been as debilitating for the girl as Yentsui's own wounds were for him. As would the fact that she would not be allowed to heal herself until Yentsui was completely well and able to fight this battle. In what could be construed as an attempt to atone for his earlier miscalculation, Waferdanos wrapped both Isis and Yentsui in the coils of his Villus Subjecti and set them atop the Relic once more.
Now, there was only the matter of finding out just what had pushed Yentsui through his dimensional portal in the first place. But then, even as he watched, the object stopped spinning and revealed itself as the right leg of Gigantic Dark.
"You didn't think these 'energy amps' of the Gigantic's were so limited as to merely be useful for storing energy, did you?" he chuckled deep in his throat, with all the arrogance of one who would defy Chronos. "They are, in fact, fully capable of channeling the energy from the three gravity control orbs. Combined with the dual Control Medal, it forms something of an information-network through the boost-dimension. Even if both my arms and legs are severed, with the Power Amps in place I will still be able to recall them back to my body with ease. As you just saw," his immobile face turned to regard Yentsui and Isis as the latter worked to heal the former. "A pity I couldn't deal with those two persistent annoyances, but you can rest assured that I will find a way to do so."
"You will die for your insolence, boy!" Waferdanos bellowed. "Even if it takes all of my remaining power, I will annihilate you, Guyver IV! You and your worthless gnat of a sister!"
That prompted Guyver V to fire a blast from her Pressure Cannon at them, a blast that was easily absorbed by Waferdanos' Villus Subjecti.
"If you don't have Yentsui to hide behind, then your mighty Villus Subjecti is just a tangled pile of hair!" Agito taunted.
"We've nothing to fear from you!" Akane added, most likely to reassure herself and her arrogant nuisance of a brother. "We'll be the ones annihilating you, old man!"
"You'll die for your insolence, arrogant brats!" A storm of Villus Subjecti shot up into the air, nearly obscuring the Dark Gigantic and Guyver V from view. "This cavern is layered with endless coils of my Villus Subjecti! They will rip into you from all sides, children! This is my ultimate technique, the Wicked Lance Enveloping Circle!"
The mass of Villus Subjecti, already blocking most views of the Dark Gigantic and his annoying sister, began to spin with more ferocity. That is, until they all began to stop at once. Steaming and beginning to lean ever so slightly toward the ground.
Even before Waferdanos spoke, Dr. Balkus knew what he was going to say.
"My time in this form is over," the ancient being said, with a soft sigh. "Very soon, they will begin to emerge once more."
He had known from the moment that Waferdanos had first entered the battle that this scenario would come about if he was forced to fight for too long. Waferdanos had never been human; unlike all the other Zoalords, Waferdanos' human form was a false front meant to cover what he truly was. Waferdanos had no battleform, but he was perhaps even more dangerous for that.
After all, it was not every Zoalord who could call forth an army from their own body. Not even Lord Alkanphel was capable of such a thing.
Even as he watched, the true Subjecti began to emerge from the steaming coils of the Villus Subjecti.
"My subjects, it's time for you to awaken! It is time for my kingdom to be reborn at last!" as the Villus Subjecti continued to give way to the army of Subjecti that was emerging from them, Dr. Balkus turned to regard Waferdanos once more. "Here, Dr. Balkus; I return my Zoacrystal to you now."
Looking once more upon the inhuman face of the being he had met all those centuries ago on that lonely island in the North Atlantic, Dr. Balkus felt a swell of hope. Yentsui would be fine, under Isis' care he would soon be back on his feet and able to participate in this battle. And with Waferdanos and his Subjecti now fully able to fight, the two children who had started this battle in the first place would die.
This he was completely certain of, and as the forest kingdom of Waferdanos sprouted with a speed that defied logic, Dr. Balkus felt a sense of supreme satisfaction. Neither of the Dark Guyvers would ever be able to escape this building; even if they did manage to defeat all four of the Zoalords Isis was a worthy combatant when someone competent had control of her they would both still die when the self-destruct timer finally reached zero.
When they reached the offices on the bottommost floor of the above-ground levels, she had begun to feel more and more uneasy. None of the Zoanoids in this base had even attempted to stand and fight them, even as she and her group of Libertus had run right past them on their way to the offices. Not one of them had even made the slightest attempt to hinder their progress.
It didn't make any sense; these people were Zoanoids, they were genetically programmed to be loyal to Chronos and trained from the time they were processed to fight to stop anyone who would try to invade any of Chronos' facilities. Her and the Libertus had to be listed at least at the same threat-level as the Guyvers, so why did none of the Zoanoids make even the slightest attempt to stop them now?
"What do you think is on this level?" she asked.
"Probably the offices of the director, or someone equally high in the managerial staff."
I still wonder why this place is so empty,Shizu mused. I would have thought, with Master and Mistress assaulting the base the way they are, Chronos would have wanted to prevent anyone else from coming in. But there is no one at all manning this post. And, even stranger is the fact that I can't sense any Zoanoids at all within this base; none within two kilometers, in fact. They couldn't be afraid of us; Zoanoids don't have that kind of self-preservation instinct.
"Griselda," Kyle called, bringing her attention back to the present moment and the battle at hand. "I think the reason that none of us has encountered any opposition is that this base is set to self-destruct in a short time."
"I see," she said. "Then we'll have to move quickly; Master and Mistress will need our help to fight those Zoalords!"
His kingdom was fully restored, and he had even taken the precaution of dispatching a pair of Subjecti to keep watch over Isis while she worked to heal Yentsui under Dr. Balkus' guidance. Hamilcal Balkus; the man he owed so much to, the man who had been willing to grant him a being not even of his species a place among those who would sit at the pinnacle of the world. However, it was more than mere power that made him so very grateful for all that Hamilcal Balkus had done for him; the man had also offered him freedom and the chance to see a world that would have been forever beyond him if he had been forced to remain as he was on that island.
Such kindness deserved to be repaid in full!
"Does it surprise you, Agito Makishima, this new form of mine? Does it frighten you, perhaps? This is my kingdom! This is the true form of Waferdanos!"
As he began to hear the voices of his loyal Subjecti after so long a silence he had even begun to believe that he would be forever limited to hearing Zoanoids, he felt a moment of supreme pleasure. To know that he would once again be privileged to hear the voices of those who were closer to him than any other living creature could ever hope to be; it was truly pleasing.
=Oh, King. Our precious King!=
=Subjecti, hear me! We have been released from our centuries of slumber! Our purpose now stands before us: we will annihilate the Guyvers that would dare threaten this place and the people who have brought us here!=
-Balkus,-he spoke now in the way of one Zoalord to another; an artifact of his transformation and something he was not sure he would be able to use for much longer. -Now you will have the time you need.-
-This ismy task, Hamilcal,- he said, using the man's name so that he would understand the depths of his sincerity. -When the Advents left me on that island, I had thought that I would never be able to leave it. If you had not come along, then I never would have known that there was even a world beyond the island where I had been confined. You showed me that world; and for that I owe you at least this much,- by now, his telepathic abilities had faded, and he was left to communicate verbally. "For being the one to gift me with a Zoacrystal, even in spite of the fact that I was not even one of your own species, and for making me one of the Divine Twelve. It was a life that anyone would be proud of, and for that, my life and my Kingdom are at your complete disposal."
He had known, intellectually, that Waferdanos was more partial toward him than any other Zoalord in the Council. Even Imakarum and Hikari, loyal as they were, showed far more deference to Lord Alkanphel than to him. It was fitting, as those two had been recreated as Lord Alkanphel's loyal servants. Dr. Balkus found it rather odd to be the subject of such adulation from anyone but a Zoanoid.
As the Subjecti continued to attack, and to be attacked in turn by Gigantic Dark and Guyver V, he could almost see the wheels turning in their crafty little brains. Neither of them was particularly stupid, he knew, so they were bound to find some way of turning this situation to their advantage. When the both of them started firing their Head Beams into the foliage, immolating it and causing fire to spread rapidly through the trees and plants that had grown over the floor of the cavern, he was not surprised.
Dismayed, of course, but not surprised.
The Subjecti were burning, even as they leaped and ran to escape the flames and the Guyvers who were firing at them.
"Damn them!" Waferdanos growled. "They refuse to deal with my Subjecti directly, and instead burn the forest around them! I will not allow them to kill my Subjecti so blithely!"
It was an admirable sentiment; but the more Subjecti Waferdanos sent into battle, the more they were cut down with the Head Beams from the two Guyvers they were attempting to fight. It was not a situation that he would have ever wished on anyone but his own worst enemies; that it was the enemies of Chronos who had forced him into this situation was not an irony he appreciated.
"I would never have expected that the Subjecti would burn quite so well," Akane Makishima laughed. "The forest, yes, but the Subjecti were a rather pleasant surprise."
"Well, it seems that this whole kingdom is a threat to you now!" Agito Makishima exulted. "It's useless to resist! Burn, Balkus! Burn along with Yentsui, Waferdanos and that absurd little pet of yours!"
Sitting at the top of the apartment building, shivering from the cold that knifed its way through his clothes like they weren't even there, and craving the warmth of the apartment behind him, Tokiwadaira wondered just how Aso was managing to stand it. His mentor wasn't dressed exactly the way he was, but he wasn't dressed that much warmer, and the night was really, intensely cold.
"Sensei, it's freezing out here," he stated, his partially clogged nose making his voice sound funny. "It's the end of December, and we're sitting out here in the freezing cold, trying to take pictures of a battle that even our best telephoto lenses can't even make out that well. Though... I think I might have caught one of the blasts of that strange beam, but other than that I haven't been able to see anything."
"I have," Aso said, staring determinedly out at the roof of the building they were trying to observe as if he could see what was going on by sheer force of will; maybe he could. "The Guyver hasn't abandoned its friends, I'm sure of that. It's continuing to fight, and I think it might be pretending to have fallen into a trap."
Once again, Tokiwadaira found himself amazed at his mentor's skill. "Um, why do you support the Guyver so much, Sempai? Also, you said Guyver was a human being... I don't believe in everything Chronos says without reason, but since they've taken over, it seems like the world has gotten better. International conflicts have stopped, the world's economy has gotten much stronger, and welfare has improved drastically. Besides, the process to become a Zoanoid hasn't been made compulsory."
"Tokiwadaira, did you know that out of all the people in Tokyo two million of them have become Zoanoids?" Aso asked, his eyes still focused forward.
"Two million?!" he exclaimed, shocked.
"Besides that, the propaganda is getting more intensive every day. It might not be compulsory to undergo the process yet, but for all we know, it might become so later. Also, men who become Zoanoids are the first to be hired for any position. They receive special treatment in many locations. Their bodies are much stronger than a human's, and consequently they're much harder to kill."
"That sounds like a nice thing to have," he said contemplatively.
"Toki, you fool! Will you think?! The world will be in sorry shape if everyone believes what Chronos says so easily as you! I know there has to be something more to this Zoanoid processing than what Chronos has been letting the public see. Their promises are nothing but empty words... and I'm sure they're planning something more than what they've been saying."
"Well, they have talked about their establishment of a planetary government, and mankind's destiny being among the stars. I don't think that's really all that trustworthy, myself, but... Well, since Chronos came to power, there hasn't been any crime aside from the terrorist attacks made by the Guyvers. Everything is a lot more peaceful now."
"Peaceful? You really think that? Have you already forgotten what we saw back in Akarigaoka? Those three Zoalords attacking one of their own?"
Tokiwadaira tensed, wanting to counter that statement, but having nothing to counter it with. "Shhh! You shouldn't say those kinds of things so loud, Sempai!"
"I don't know what kind of problems those men might be having with each other, but it's not normal to attack a comrade. Especially not from behind, and doubly so when he's just been fighting the Gigantic Guyver. I can't trust the explanations they give us, when they attack one of their own so blithely! Wouldn't you agree?"
"Well," he said, pausing to think about what his mentor had just said. "You do have a good point, Sempai."
"Moreover, those thirteen Zoalords of theirs; they refer to themselves as the gods of this world, but before development they were simply humans like the rest of us. I'm not entirely certain who they are, but all of them are human beings, or they were obviously human at one point in time, and that's something that we have to keep in mind."
"Sempai, keep your voice down!" he hissed, worried. "If anyone else heard what you were saying-!"
"To tell you the truth, Tokiwadaira, I do have my reasons for being as interested in the Thirteen Zoalords as I am."
"What do you mean, Aso-sempai?" he asked, surprised.
"It was seven years ago, that I met two of them," Aso said with the utmost calmness, even as Tokiwadaira thanked every god he could remember for the fact that he wasn't drinking anything at the moment; he didn't like the idea of doing a spit-take at a moment like this. "The three of us met in university, and even though they were two years behind me, we all became good friends," he chuckled deep in his throat. "In fact, I had something of a crush on his sister, though nothing really came of that. The three of us would go out together at nights, and I recommended them to the company when they were looking for work."
"You mean those two were in our profession, Aso-sempai?"
"They were," his mentor said, sounding weary and angry, but for what reason Tokiwadaira couldn't guess. "But while I was back in Japan, writing for the magazine, they were doing special correspondence overseas. The last I heard from them was just before they left for their assignment in New Guinea. Since then, it's as if they've both disappeared off the face of the Earth," Aso paused, sighing. "It wasn't just them, either. All of the staff that had been sent out there managed to vanish as if they never existed. I don't know what happened to them whether they stumbled on something they weren't meant to see, or if there was some sort of accident that happened... But I've tried every measure at my disposal to find them. All of the contacts I had made over the years I had worked at the magazine, and I even tried going to New Guinea myself," Aso sighed, long and wistful. "But there was no trace of any of the group that had been sent: not a single footprint or anything that had been left behind in the jungle. The only thing I did manage to find out was, just after Masaki, Sayuri, and the other members of the group went into the jungle, there was an 'eerie cry'."
"An eerie cry?" he repeated, curious.
"The elders said that there was some kind of 'fiendish demon' that made frequent appearances. They said that this demon had the face of a bird, the body of a great ape, and that walked on two legs like a human."
Tokiwadaira gasped; he knew now what they had to have been talking about.
"The elders, of course, blamed the outsiders who had intruded on the sacred forest. They claimed that the spirits had been angered by the trespassers and had sent the demons to take revenge on them. Of course, none of us really believed what they were saying, and in the end I had to leave without finding anything new. I went back to the magazine, back to my normal life. Then, five years later, during the summer, Chronos instigated their war of repression. Up until that day, I would have never believed that an organization like Chronos could have existed. Still, we all learned better on August 17th. While the rest of the world was in an uproar over what had happened, I started to realize that this was what had been responsible for the disappearances of Masaki, Sayuri, and all the people that had been sent with them."
Tokiwadaira was tempted to roll his eyes; his mentor didn't seem to want Chronos to be innocent in that affair. He always seemed to be determined to find something wrong with them, even in spite of all they had done for the world.
"Well, now that you know what lead me to this, I suppose I should tell you what I'm truly curious about."
Truly curious about?That sounded fairly obvious: Aso-sempai wanted to find out what had happened to his friends. It was really an admirable thing, but he probably could have asked Chronos to help him find them. They would probably have been more capable of finding two lost people than any one person.
"Toki, do you remember those two Zoalords that were fighting the Guyvers in the sky six months ago?"
"Yes," he said, not really sure how that related to anything. "I think they were twins; Imakarum and Hikari Mirabilis. Wait-!"
"Yeah. A pair of fraternal twins that looked almost identical," Aso said. "They covered their eyes with strange looking shades, you remember? Also, the two of them fought again in Yokohama. That was an unmitigated disaster. Still, the event I'm more concerned with is the one that happened six months ago," Aso-sempai took a deep breath. "Everyone says that Zoalords are on an entirely different level than Zoanoids; that they can fly even when they haven't transformed, and they have abilities that no Zoanoid could ever hope to match. Also, both of them fought the four Guyvers without transforming at first. But then, either Hikari got careless or one of the Guyvers got lucky, but her visor was broken," he held out a picture of a woman with long black hair. "This is a photo taken at that moment."
The woman in the photo was scowling darkly, as well she might have been since there were two bleeding cuts on both her cheeks and blood dripping down off her chin, but that wasn't what he noticed first about her. Nor was it the fact that she was pretty; what Tokiwadaira noticed first of all were Hikari Mirabilis' eyes. They were as yellow as a cat's, and slitted just the same.
As pretty a face as she had, he couldn't help feeling a slight chill as he looked at her.
"Th-this is what Hikari really looks like?" he stuttered slightly, scared of the implications; what Chronos might do if they found out that this picture had been taken... he didn't know what they would do. "How- how did you manage to get this?"
"One of my friends took this picture while he was doing photography of the Guyvers," he said. "And that wasn't the only one," he said, handing over another photo; one of a man nearly identical to Hikari; one with the same yellow eyes. "Imakarum removed his own visor just after Hikari did. I paid a lot of money for this. Now, take a look at this."
Aso handed over another photo, this one containing a two people. For a moment, Tokiwadaira wondered just what Aso-sempai was thinking when he handed him these pictures, and then he noticed the clear similarities between them. The utter and complete similarity; these four people were completely identical!
"That photo was taken by me," Aso-sempai said calmly. "Seven years ago, when my friends left Japan."
"Then... you mean," he stammered, his eyes darting from the pictures of the Zoalords to the picture of Aso-sempai's friends.
"Yes. These are Masaki and Sayuri Murakami, my friends from university who disappeared those seven years ago in New Guinea."
The only differences between the pictures were the longer hair, on both figures, and the yellow eyes that they both had. Sayuri had silver clips in her hair, and Hikari Mirabilis didn't have anything of the sort... but, aside from that, there was really nothing to distinguish the two sets of people.
"Well," he said, still looking over the two sets of twins. "Maybe... maybe they're different people who just happen to look alike. They could be completely unrelated."
"Maybe," Aso-sempai said. "But I doubt it."
Even as he watched, helpless now to do anything but watch, the Guyver named Sho Fukamachi was carried away by the Vikarr. Vikarr that by all rights should have been obeying him.
"The Vikarr that have captured Sho Fukamachi are continuing on their way up to the top of the building," the faithful Zoanoid manning the control center reported. "They're still not responding to any of our hails, Excellency."
I would have thought as much."Have you determined what their ultimate destination is?"
"Their destination seems to be the top of Cloud Gate," the monitor Zoanoid said, turning to look at him briefly before he turned back to the computer.
"Understood. Thank you for keeping me informed." hat are you three planning? It would suit their purposes to be cautious; if Sho Fukamachi were to be killed, all of their plans would come to nothing. This is an opportune moment for me to discover what those three have planned. Once Sho Fukamachi is brought to Cloud Gate, I will take the boy into my personal custody. I will not simply allow these three to run amok in Japan Section!
As he stood, helpless and alone at the top of the building, Toshiaki called out to Sho in the vain hope that the boy would hear him and finally act to save himself. It was all for naught, though, Sho didn't react at all, and he was rapidly getting too far away for any of his shouts to reach. When the spear slammed into the ground too near his feet, exploding the concrete, he had to leap quickly out of the way to avoid being at least seriously injured.
"So, even without your little friend to protect you, you still manage to evade me," Khan laughed. "I suppose even a genetic mistake such as you has at least some instinct for self-preservation."
Breathing heavily, Toshiaki resisted the urge to spit curses and invective at the Zoalord assaulting him. He would need all of his breath for fighting, and he knew the Zoalord was just trying to provoke him.
"Sho Fukamachi is now in our hands, and will soon join his pathetic sister among the ranks of Chronos' auxiliary Zoalords," Khan chuckled darkly. "And, as for you, you will not live through the night. A pitiful abomination such as you has no chance of defeating this creature that is under my control. Ironic, since this Aptom was once one of your fellow Lost Numbers," Khan cackled.
Still trying to get his breathing under control, Toshiaki wondered for a moment if this was the end. If his entire life, all his battles against Chronos and their Zoanoids, were meaningless in the end. If he was going to die without even having managed to rescue Aptom, to die with Sho being carried toward a Chronos processing facility, and with Yukari a mindless servant of the Zoalords.
No!He couldn't die here! Not without rescuing Sho, at least.
The flapping wings of the Zoanoids carrying him away were almost painfully loud in his ears, and he wondered for a moment if this was how Yukari had felt when she was being carried through the air by Khan. But Yukari was gone; he had to focus on saving Mr. Hayami and Aptom right now.
The barrier blew the Zoanoids holding him into pieces, and as he felt the armor sealing itself closed around him, Sho fired the Head Beam into the remaining flying Zoanoids before any more of them could think to attack him. Then, with a thought, he activated the Sonic Buster and fired into the crowds of Vamore.
Once all of the Zoanoids surrounding them were dead, Sho landed back on the rooftop and stood next to Mr. Hayami. He would have to apologize later, but for now he had to deal with the Zoalord attacking them. He would have to fight Kablarl Khan.
"You little bastard! How the hell did you manage to wake up like that?!"
"Sho, you just-"
"Hayami, I'm sorry," he said. "I'm sorry I made you worry like that, but I didn't have any other choice. I needed to be able to kill all of the Zoanoids that had us surrounded. And there wasn't any other way to get the height I needed but to let them think they had captured me."
"You little shit! You were willing to risk disarming yourself completely, even with the dire circumstances you were in?! Just so you could kill our Zoanoids?!"
"Actually, I would have been in danger of losing consciousness if that sonic barrage had continued to hit me. So I un-equipped my armor before anything like that could happen. I pretended to have fainted, and I deliberately let them capture me. Then, when the rest of the Vikarr had come into range of the Head Beam, I called the armor. You saw the rest. The two Vikarr that had captured me were annihilated, and I fired the Head Beam at the attacking Vikarr. Then, I fired the Sonic Buster at the Vamore who were standing in the balconies."
"Damn you, you little bastard!"
"And now I will defeat you, Kablarl Khan, no matter what else tries to get in my way! I will put an end to this battle!"
"Truly impressive," Shin muttered. He managed to completely fool myself, and even those three other Overlords. You are a worthy opponent, Sho Fukamachi.
"Your Excellency!" the controller called, drawing his attention. "If the Vikarr's ultrasonic waves were able to do that much damage to the Guyver, would you like to have the remnants of the Vikarr squadron sent after him?"
"No," he said firmly. "There is still the chance that they would fall prey to the control of those three traitors. And remove any and all of the surviving bio-blasters from the marksman windows. And make sure that all of our personnel stay within the vicinity of my mental commands!" he ordered. Well, it seems that you three have made your move. Controlling Aptom from the sidelines the way you have done, but it seems that Sho Fukamachi is more capable than you assumed. We will see how this battle comes out.
The little brat was beginning to task him; that he would think to use such subterfuge to kill the Zoanoids under their command. He was starting to wish that Jabir had managed to keep hold of the little girl, at least she would have been able to fight the little imbecile with impunity. "So, you wish to conclude this petty little battle of ours," he laughed. "You've finally decided to attack this Aptom, your little friend who you risked so much to save. Even with all of your resolve, I will kill you! I will kill you with the hands of your own friend!"
Hurling his high-frequency spear at the little worm who dared think to challenge him, he cursed as the impudent little cur ducked and charged at him with obvious ill-intent. When the boy extended the Vibration Blade on his left arm, he tried to reel in the elastic arm that he had extended. But, with the high-frequency spear extended to its limits to deal with Sho Fukamachi, he was not able to reel it back in time to avoid having the arm itself completely severed by the Guyver I's left blade.
When the little cur leaped at him, blade out and obviously intending to bury the weapon in the flesh of his puppet's head, he hissed between his teeth. "Don't underestimate me, you insect!"
Firing bolts of electricity from the conduits on his head, he was enraged when Guyver I somehow managed to leap still higher from his original trajectory and evade the bolts he had thrown. Turning to see where the little brat would land, he caught sight of the remains of the elastic arm he had extended.
That would cause him no end of trouble if it were allowed to remain as it were. He would have to deal with it...
When Khan fired again, Sho thought at first that he and Mr. Hayami were the targets of his bio-laser blast. But...
"He's firing in the wrong direction if he wanted to hit us," Mr. Hayami said.
"Yes. But that confirms what I was beginning to suspect," he said, as the blast of Khan's or rather Aptom's, but he couldn't think about that if he was going to be able to fight him bio-laser obliterated the remains of the severed elastic arm. "I've been thinking about it all through the battle: Kablarl has managed to control Aptom completely, even in spite of the fact that Aptom, like you, isn't supposed to be vulnerable to Zoalord control. Also, when I scanned him with my hyper-sensors the second time, I mean, I didn't find anything the first time I noticed something strange."
"Something strange?" Mr. Hayami echoed "About what?"
"About his brain," he said, as Khan continued to stare at them. "The Aptom that we're facing has no brain!"
"In its place is some kind of fake, constructed from another group of cells."
"A fake brain inside Aptom's body? But wait, why doesn't it get absorbed by Aptom's cells if it's there? I thought Aptom was able to absorb any kind of foreign biological matter."
"Well, that's the problem: this fake brain of theirs manages to deceive the cells of Aptom's body by mimicking the electrical activity of Aptom's brain. That's how it manages to fool Aptom's cells into not devouring it the way they normally would. When Aptom's body was reconstructing itself, the cells perceived the presence of a brain, so they didn't regenerate it. So the false brain that was implanted in Aptom's body was able to act as a transmitter to Kablarl, who was in a position where he could watch the battle and take part in it by using Aptom."
"But, when could this false brain could have been introduced? We were both there when Aptom regenerated. There wouldn't have been any time for anyone to implant something like this without us knowing about it."
"I think the body of that Hyper Zoanoid was prepared beforehand to be assimilated by Aptom so that he could be controlled. It was it had to be a trap set for Aptom. And I understand now why Kablarl used the particle beam those two times, even though using it leaves him vulnerable to attack: he needed to burn away any pieces of Aptom that had been severed from the main mass."
"So that's why. I think I understand now, too," Mr. Hayami said. "Any Aptom cells separated from the whole for a prolonged period of time would begin to undergo ontogenesis. All of the cells would begin rapidly evolving into more complex forms. This could lead to the regeneration of Aptom's original brain, and his release from Kablarl's control."
"Yes. And that's what they're afraid of," he said firmly. "I'm sure of it. Anyway, we should try to get hold of enough Aptom cells to start the ontogenesis."
"Yes," Mr. Hayami said. "If we can manage to keep it safe from Kablarl's attacks, we should be able to use it to restore our Aptom."
Nodding to himself, even as Kablarl transformed the stump of Aptom's severed arm into a mass of spikes, Sho breathed deeply and resolved that this time would be different. This time, they would rescue Aptom, no matter what Kablarl did to stop them. No matter what, they would bring Aptom back.
As he faced the Zoalord that was hiding behind Aptom, controlling him so that Sho would hesitate to attack for fear of hurting his friend, Toshiaki couldn't help but admire Sho's resolve. It was the same kind of resolve that Professor Yamamura had demonstrated; the same kind of resolve that Murakami, his sister, Odagiri, and all of their comrades had demonstrated.
And now here he was, the last of them to have survived in any real capacity, facing one of the very people that had caused them so much grief.
"So, you managed to discover the secret of my dummy brain," Kablarl cackled. "But, you still need to cut off a piece of the main body to bring your little friend back. Let's see if you can!"
"That weapon on his left hand," Sho muttered, obviously speaking more for his own benefit than that of anyone else. "It's... changing."
"If you little worms want some samples of your friend's body, then I'll feed you some!"
A barrage of bio-missiles flew from the launcher on Kablarl's left arm, filling the air with a rain of deadly projectiles.
"Mr. Hayami, duck!" Sho shouted, firing at one of the missiles just as it turned toward them.
That missile exploded into flying debris, but Kablarl was quick to launch more of them. Reassuring Sho that he was all right, he had to dive forward to evade another barrage of missiles.
"Damn him!" he growled. "Even Aptom won't be able to regenerate from those missiles! He's just showing off with those! He's obviously aiming for us, and more than that he's trying to keep all of Aptom's cells to himself."
"We can't even know when the next attack is going to come," Sho said, sounding wary. "Still, those bio-missiles of his are made from the cells of Aptom's body, so it will take Kablarl awhile to regenerate them."
"Then, that could be our chance to get close enough to get the cell samples we need to have to restore the Aptom we know back to us."
"Yes, I think that would be our best chance to get close," Sho said, nodding.
"Well then little boys, I'll give you your chance to get your samples," Kablarl said, cackling wickedly. "I won't, however, make it easy for you!"
"He fired all of them?!" he exclaimed, horrified by the veritable storm of missiles that were now circling them like some evil parody of a planetary system.
Thiscan't be the end! he thought desperately; he still hadn't managed to rescue Aptom from Kablarl's control. Still, even if he had to go through all twelve Zoalords to do it, he would rescue at least one of his close friends from Chronos.
"It's a little late to notice things now, you pathetic fools," Kablarl sneered.
He wondered for a moment what the Zoalord was talking about now, when all of the missiles that had been circling them suddenly turned inward.
"You're dead, boy!" Kablarl shrieked triumphantly. "You and that little genetic mistake you call a comrade! Once this barrage of missiles hits, your body will be ground into paste! You don't even have your precious Gigantic's barrier to hide behind! Even if you did, these missiles are a part of your friend," Kablarl laughed cruelly. "Are you certain that you're willing to risk hurting your friend just to get to me?!"
Leaping into the air just as all of the missiles turned inward and flew at him, he grabbed Mr. Hayami at the apex of his own leap and carried him farther into the air than either of their own muscles could have carried them even with their many enhancements. Deactivating the Gravity Controller, Sho let himself fall back toward the rooftop as he extended the Vibration Blade on his right arm. Slashing downward, he watched in horror as Kablarl vanished from sight.
"Sho, I think this might be that Zoanoid's power," Mr. Hayami said.
"Yeah," he muttered, nodding. "That stealth Zoanoid that Aptom absorbed when he first escaped from that stone shell."
Kablarl's laughter, high and hysterical and evil-sounding, sounded then. "Is something wrong, children?" he laughed again. "What made either of you think that you could lay even a hand on me? It was rather clever of you, using the Gravity Controller to evade the missile barrage, then coming at me both at once after all of the missiles had detonated. But I, Kablarl Khan, had already seen everything!"
"Mr. Hayami, be careful! He could be right beside you!"
Mr. Hayami tensed, going motionless for a moment just before a gout of bright red blood exploded out of his upper chest.
"Don't-" Mr. Hayami gasped, choking and struggling to get the words out. "Don't come- near me, Sho!"
"Mr. Hayami! What's happening?!"
"Oops, that's close enough, little boy!" Kablarl laughed, holding Mr. Hayami's bleeding body up like some kind of sick trophy. "If you come even one step closer, I might have to hurt your little friend here!"
"Bastard! Let him go!"
"Don't take another step, Sho Fukamachi!" Kablarl cackled. "My claws are wrapped around your little friend's heart; it would only take a little bit of a squeeze, just a twitch of my puppet's muscles, to drive these talons through the organ I have in my hands," Kablarl laughed, low and cruel. "It would only take a little squeeze to kill this little friend of yours."
Mr. Hayami screamed, gasping and panting and writhing as Kablarl's claws dug into the flesh of his chest. Mr. Hayami was even holding his own bleeding chest in an attempt to stem the flow of blood.
"Stop it!" he shouted, his voice quavering slightly. "Let him go!" he shouted, more firmly.
"Well, we are at an impasse," Kablarl said, sounding only slightly annoyed. "I have full control of your friend's physical functions, and now I quite literally hold the life of your other little friend in my hands. Neither of us will yield to the other, and each wants to be the one to kill their respective enemy. This battle of ours likely won't progress from here; however, I still have the upper hand! This worthless Lost Number that you call your comrade is in my hands now! And, unlike the two of us, your little friend is comparatively fragile, easy pickings for one such as I! So, if you truly value the life of this creature, then you will surrender that Control Medal of yours to me!" Kablarl laughed harshly.
"You- think you've already won, Kablarl?" Mr. Hayami demanded, breathing heavily but still holding on to Kablarl's arm. "And still, you haven't noticed- that you've just made a fatal mistake!"
Mr. Hayami started exuding cold, blanketing the rooftop in freezing mist and covering Kablarl with a thin layer of frost.
"Damn you, you little maggot!" Kablarl growled. "I'll shut you up once and for all!"
Kablarl squeezed, and Sho screamed as Hayami thrashed and started bleeding. He was sure that Hayami was going to die; sure that he was going to lose another of his good friends to Chronos. Mr. Hayami was the last one; the last one that he hadn't failed and lost. He had to save him!
"Don't- come any closer- Sho," Mr. Hayami gagged out through the blood streaming from his mouth. "You'll- get caught up in it- too."