Since time began, a being of light has watched over the innocent and protected the helpless. This being had come in many forms, but always with the same intentions. Now a generation that has not seen heroism or sacrifice for some time will receive the blessing of the light. And one young man will receive what he always dreamed of.
The chance to be needed.
To describe it would be incomprehensible to the human eye, but there was one way to describe it: it was bright.
Two figures stood facing one another. They looked same, tall and slender wearing red with jewels on their chests. One had horns and a long cape draped upon his back. The other, while less important looking, supported a strange wrist device with a glowing circle.
"Listen well, Kinto," the caped giant said. "Since time began, our kind has stood watch over the planet called Earth."
"I've heard of the planet from Sensei," the other one said.
"Whenever danger threatened the innocent, we would dispatch one of our own to guard the populace. Now I'm afraid the time has come to dispatch one again, this time it shall be you."
"Me? But sir…"
"I know you feel like you're not ready, but remember these three things: one, you would not be able to exist on Earth alone, you would need to bond yourself to one of the inhabitance and find allies to help you. The second, the longer you remain on Earth in your true form, the more power you use up. You must finish your business quickly or you will fall."
"And the third?"
"Remember the pact we made, and remember that the most powerful force lies not without, but within. Now go, Kinto and assume the roll of guardian using our most sacred name… Ultraman!"
The Child Blessed by the Light
It is the future. The overpopulation of the Earth has caused an overabundance of homeless and vagabonds. People wandered the streets looking for whatever little work they could do. But sometimes they had to resort to desperate means to survive. Nobody was exempt from this reality.
Not even children.
"Come back here, you little brat," a black-uniformed police officer ran after a boy in a torn long-sleeve shirt, shorts, and sandals.
"No way, you old fart," the boy replied clutching the bag of groceries. "I'm not going to go hungry so you can stroke your ego!"
On a building roof, two children, a boy with pale white skin and shaggy brown hair and eyes along with a girl with short auburn hair held a smoking pot over the ledge. "Hurry, Yumi, Kochan's coming!"
"I'm hurrying, Ron."
The boy and the police officer ran past their location. Yumi and Ron lifted the pot and tipped it over dumping its contents over the edge.
Their timing couldn't have been more perfect. The pot of near boiling sludge landed right onto the police officer.
"Bull's eye!" Ron cried.
"Now let's hope Nobuyuki can follow through," Yumi said.
The pot's falling contents had pinned the police officer to the ground. As he looked up, he saw the boy sticking his tongue out. "Gee, Kochan, you stink."
"It's Kochiro, you miserable little brat. I'll get you one of these days."
"Yeah, but it's not today." And with those words the kid ducked under a hole in the fence and ran off.
Kochiro cursed, "I need to call in some…" He felt something slam into his back and suddenly his field of vision was covered in white.
"Mama," he heard a voice called. "The stupid man made me drop the flour!"
Kochiro cursed again.
The boy ran down the street, celebrating his accomplishment. "I cleaned house this time, the gang and I will probably be able to eat into next week. Poor Kochan, he keeps falling for the same tricks, how did someone like him ever…"
"No good piece of junk!" The boy paused to hear a woman screaming obscenities at a small two-door car. With the conservation of materials, cars were literally half of what they used to be. And even then, only those with well-paying jobs could own one. And if what the boy suspected was true, the woman had a solar-cell car.
A really crappy one from the way she was kicking it. "Stupid piece of junk, that's the last time I buy a sol-car online."
"What's the trouble?" The boy asked.
"Beats me," the woman replied without turning around. "All I know is that it won't start up."
"I'll take a look at it," the boy replied.
"Oh, thanks, I'm late for work and…" As the woman turned around, she saw clearly who she was speaking to. "Hey, you're just a kid!"
The boy frowned but didn't say anything. It wouldn't be the first time someone underestimated him because of his age. The boy went past the woman and took a peek into the hood. "Sheesh, when was the last time you recharged its battery?"
"I haven't had any need to do it since I bought it."
"Well that's stupid," the boy said. "If you leave the cell battery uncharged for longer than five days, the car becomes nothing more than a piece of junk."
"You mean it's stuck like this."
"This is a hybrid model, right?"
"Yeah, that's right, 40 percent gas, 60 percent solar."
"Should be enough," the boy said. He switched a couple of wires. "Okay, I hooked up the car's motor to the auxiliary gas supply. It should give you enough power time to get to the nearest solar charging station. Let me just check the AI controls to make sure I didn't trigger any firewalls." The boy ducked into the driver's seat and checked the monitor on the dashboard. As he did, he saw a clothes bag strung across the backseat. He also noticed a strange symbol on the bag, a star with a comet tail. Shrugging it off, he laid his hand on the monitor. Immediately, he could feel every system in the car, every sprocket, every circuit, and every bolt. The monitor flashed red three times before turning green. "Okay, everything's set."
"Hey, you're pretty good," the woman said, unaware of what exactly Toshio did.
"Yeah, my friends say I'm a natural when it comes to electronic stuff." He picked up his grocery bag. "Well, see ya'."
"Yeah, thanks." But the boy was already taking off. "Strange kid." Something in her pocket beeped. She took out a strange hand-held monitor. "Fukui here…"
"Are you all right?" Came the voice on the other end.
"Yeah, just a little car trouble, I'm on my way to base now."
"You're late, Toshio," Ron said as the boy returned with the groceries.
"Well excuse me I just had to take care of a little mechanical thing."
Nobuyuki looked at Toshio concerned. "Nobody saw you… you know…" Only the four of them knew about Toshio's strange ability to read and understand machinery. That was why they worked so hard to stay out of Kocho's grasp, because they knew that he would lock them up and abuse Toshio's gift. "We thought Kochan got you."
"Hah, it'll take a lot more than that geezer to catch me."
Yumi ran to Toshio and threw her arms around him. "Welcome home, husband," she said.
Honda blushed, "Yumi, I thought I told you not to call me that."
"You told me not to call you that in public, but here it's just Nobuyuki and Ron," Yumi said slyly. "Besides you're my husband so why can't I call you that?" They were only 14, but Yumi insisted that they were married and that Nobuyuki and Ron were their children (though she assured them they didn't have to call her mommy or anything of the like). On an outer level, Toshio was embarrassed but on the inside, he really didn't mind it that much. After all, he never knew his biological family. Some whispers among the other Outcasts (orphan children) said that he was really from outer space. Toshio didn't pay them much mind.
Toshio passed out bread, apple, and water to each of them and they all dove in. It was the most food they had in a long time.
Suddenly they heard a rumble. The basement warehouse they were in had a lone skylight (that they tried hard not to walk under for fear of someone above seeing them) but this time they all went to it and looked up to see a gold-colored plane with thrusters on the undercarriage flying overhead.
"D.A.R.E.," Ron hissed.
D.A.R.E. stood for Disaster Answer and Recovery Effort. They were a global military group dedicated to respond to any extreme emergencies. Every major power had their own branch of D.A.R.E. but Japan's D.A.R.E. branch was the most effective and subsequently the strictest of all D.A.R.E. branches (both due to the experience of those heads up). They had all the latest technology, the latest equipment, and everyone was bending over backwards to join it. But to Outcasts like Toshio and his friends, they were a severe nuisance. D.A.R.E. had the technology to find and put away all the Outcasts but they didn't simply because children living on the street weren't considered a disaster. Of course that didn't stop local governments from petitioning D.A.R.E. Japan to come take care of their Outcast problem.
The headquarters of D.A.R.E. Japan was an entire island in the South Pacific. It was here that D.A.R.E. members trained, worked, even slept (temporarily) and ate there. The leader was named Taichi Nagaya, 50 years of age. At the moment, he was doing what he normally did in the evening, trying to figure out ways to boost their recruitment goals. Not that he really saw any reason to. D.A.R.E. usually served as honor guard or clean-up crew after a natural disaster. They haven't seen real action for some time now. Nagaya didn't know if that was a blessing or a curse.
"Excuse me, sir."
Nagaya looked at the young officer. One could tell right away that she was a rookie. She was wide-eyed, and all smiles. Taichi missed the days when he was like that.
"Yes, Otome, what is it?"
"I have something for you, sir, it's the latest disaster report."
"Leave it on my desk, I'll read it later."
"Oh yes, and the city council called again."
"What is that, the fifth time?"
"Sixth sir, they called twice while you were… um… in the bathroom."
"All right, tell Hanna to contact the Communication Minister to arrange a conference. Damn politicians."
"Excuse me, sir, but wasn't it politicians who gave you this job?" Otome asked with a snicker.
"They gave me this job, doesn't mean I wanted it. Now go on."
"Cha," she said saluting. As she left, a long-haired guy wearing glasses appeared. "Morning, Kouga-san."
"Otome-chan, I see you're looking good as always."
Otome blushed and giggled. Taichi knew, however, that Kouga was just saying that to be nice. Ai Otome was no fashion model, her stature was short and her shoulders wide. She wore her hair short around her head with a few shorter strands sticking out. Her brown eyes were hidden behind a pair of jet black square frames. She was one of the few female members who actually volunteered to wear the red skirt and knee-length boots that came with her uniform. Most females chose to wear the blue slacks that male members wore or the blue flight suit if they were trained as pilots.
"Kouga, D.A.R.E. is not a dating service," Taichi said. "Mingle on your own time."
"Yes, sir," Kouga said saluting. He knew real well that Taichi wasn't as mad as he was yelling. It was well known around D.A.R.E. (especially female members) that Arata Kouga was quite the flirt. Most of the time his attempts to come on to female members were nothing more than the occasional comment or the occasional shoulder touch, which reminded Taichi…
"Where is Fukui?" Taichi asked.
"Right here." Another female member, this one in a flight suit, walked in to the room. Unlike Otome, this one was clearly gorgeous. Her long hair was pulled back in a ponytail, her bangs cut even. Her uniform hugged her body in the areas that would make most men's mouths water. Everything about her screamed perfection, including the salute she gave Nagaya. "Flight Lieutenant Fukui Ayako reporting in, Captain Nagaya. I apologize for being late, there was mechanical trouble."
"Aya, how many times do I have to tell you stop calling me that? You're going to give me an ego complex," Taichi said with a smile.
"Yeah, no need to be so formal on the old man, Aya-chan," Kouga said placing an arm around her.
An elbow jab sent Kouga flying into the doorway where two more guys, one with a buzz cut and the other bald were just walking in. "See, Koji, I told you Aya would be here."
"Kouga's on the ground again so she must be here," Koji agreed.
"Looks like everyone's here who's going to be here?"
"General, where's Lieutenant Yoshiaki?" Aya asked.
"Lieutenant Yoshiaki's still out on patrol," Nagaya said. "Since you will be doing reconnaissance, I was thinking you could inform him of our current status for me."
"It would be my honor, sir."
"So she treats Yoshi like a rock idol yet she treats me like crap," Kouga complained.
"Maybe because Yoshi doesn't try to hit on her every chance he gets," the bald guy said.
"Nobody asked you, Fumio," Kouga snapped.
"Enough," Taichi snapped. "All of you, attention!" Otome, Kouga, Aya, Koji, and Fumio all stood in a semi-circle around Nagaya. "All right, today we have normal flight maneuvers and testing of the sonic radar and laser field. Koji, Fumio, work with the test crew on perfecting the laser field. It's still overheating too soon for use. Aya, Kouga, you two are to take Wingers and join Yoshiaki in B and D-pattern maneuvers around greater Osaka."
"What about me, sir?" Otome asked.
"Get Hanna up here and give her a hand with the vocal relay pathways."
"Janitor work again?" Otome pouted. "But I wanted to go flying."
"After the way you messed up the simulator, you're lucky the Captain lets you anywhere near a computer," Kouga scolded.
"I didn't mean to do it," Otome said scrunching into a ball and drawing spirals on the ground.
Aya, after deliberately stepping on Kouga's foot, placed a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Tell you what, once I get back, I'll take you up in the S.T.A.R., okay?"
"Cha," Otome nodded her cheerful mood returned.
Captain Nagaya smiled. Despite her strict attention to protocol, Aya was a good comrade to the other members. "All right, you have all your orders. D.A.R.E., depart!"
"G.T.G.," everyone saluted. Aya and Kouga grabbed their all-purpose helmets from the hooks on the wall. They then went to the chutes that were located at the far corner of the room. Even as they were riding the chutes down, the Wingers, the single seated jets that were the trademark vehicles of D.A.R.E. were being situated under the chutes.
The two slid out perfectly into the cockpits of the Wingers.
"Winger 2 and Winger 3," Otome called over their communication links. "Report go, no-go for launch."
"Winger 2, Hikari, go," Aya said.
"Winger 3, Pierce, go," Kouga added.
"Understood, Wingers 2 and 3, move into launch position. Winger 3 launches first."
"Roger," Kouga said as his Winger taxied to the exit chute. "Hey Aya, try not to eat too much of my dust."
"Why, are you cleaning your apartment again?"
"Ouch," Kouga said. "Not even off the chute and already I'm taking a volley."
"Can the chatter, you two," Nagaya ordered.
"Why, are you afraid the Americans might be listening in?" Kouga asked as a half-joke.
"No, you two are giving me a headache."
"Winger 3, you are clear for launch," Otome announced.
"Let's fly!" Kouga slammed the throttle as the wall-mounted anti-magnets forced the Winger through the chute and into the air. Kouga enjoyed the freefall for a second before hitting firing up the thrusters. As he did, wings and tail fin unfolded from the fuselage of the plane.
"Winger 2, you are clear for launch," Miko announced.
Aya was about to hit the thruster when she stared at a monitor.
"Yeah, my friends say I'm a natural when it comes to electronic stuff."
Weird, why am I thinking about that kid now?
"Winger 2, do you read? I said you were clear for launch!"
Aya shook off the memory. "Roger!" She hit her thrusters and she too was in the sky.
"That's weird, Aya normally never zones out," Otome commented. "I wonder if she's feeling well."
"With Aya's record, she can afford to zone out from time to time," Taichi said taking out a cigarette.
"Captain!" Otome shouted making Nagaya drop the lighter he was also taking out. "You know perfectly well that you shouldn't be smoking at your age!"
"Otome, I lived through a Legion War, a massive global restructuring, and five premiers. I've reached a point in my life where dying from smoking is a luxury for me." He picked up his lighter and was about to light up again when Otome snatched the cigarette out of his hand and threw it in the garbage can. "Otome, you're borderline insubordination."
"When it comes to your health, sir, that's a line I'm willing to cross."
Taichi sighed. If Otome was half as firm in her flight and combat training as she was at looking out for his health, she could've probably been his superior instead of the other way around.
There was a beeping at Otome's consol. "Captain, Winger 2 and Winger 3 are about to join up with Yoshiaki-san's aircraft!"
Nagaya looked up, "Please, please, let this end without incident.' Behind him, he could hear Otome snicker to herself.
Kouga and Aya hadn't been flying far when another Winger descended from the clouds and started cruising in front of them. "Hey there, strangers," a voice greeted them.
"Lieutenant Yoshiaki, sir," Aya said saluting. "Lieutenants Aya and Kouga reporting in ready for maneuver run."
"Sheesh, do you always have to be such a goody two-shoes?" Kouga asked.
"Easy there, Kouga," Myoga Yoshiaki said. "Let's just get this under way. I suggest we go through patterns Delta, Bravo, and Foxtrot. We'll start with Delta pattern. Kouga, take point."
"Well you're the boss," Kouga said and hit the thrusters.
Yoshiaki activated a beam link to Aya so the two could converse without having Kouga listen in. "So, Aya, how's your Tae-Kwon-Do practice coming along?"
'It's the uppercut elbow strike, sir, I can't seem to make it as strong as yours.'
"When we get back, show it to me and I can give you some pointers."
"It would be an honor, sir," Aya said.
"Oh cut it out with that 'sir' stuff, we're the same rank. In fact, we've been joined at the hip since junior high school."
Aya blushed. If there was one person who could set even her on pins and needles, it was Yoshi. "Yes, Si… I mean Yoshi."
Yoshiaki chuckled. Poor Aya was always too stiff to learn when to be on guard and when to relax. He looked up at the sky, at the clouds.
"The clouds," Yoshiaki gasped.
At D.A.R.E. headquarters, Captain Nagaya heard Yoshiaki's mutter. Could it be? He turned and ran outside.
"Oh no, is he going outside to smoke now?" Otome wondered to the otherwise empty control center.
Captain Nagaya ran down the hallway and through a door to a balcony. He looked up. "The sky… the clouds aren't moving… and I hear nothing, not even the wind."
It wasn't a good sign.
Nagaya saw an intercom and hit it. "Otome, send an emergency recall order, have all Wingers return to base and raise the alert status to Defcon Three!"
"Defcon Three? Sir, is something…"
"Don't ask questions, Otome, just do it!"
"Captain!" Otome's frantic cry confirmed Nagaya's worse fears. They were already too late.
"Winger 1 to Wingers 2 and 3," Yoshiaki called. "Maneuver practice cancelled, fall in behind me, we're returning to base."
"Lieutenant, is something wrong?"
"The clouds aren't moving," Yoshi said.
"And just what the hell is…" Kouga's question was interrupted as the ground started shaking. "What the hell, an earthquake?"
"I hope it is."
Toshio and his friends felt the shaking. "I'm scared," Yumi cried and literally threw herself into Toshio's arms. Unfortunately, the momentum made them both take a tumble.
"Where's the shaking coming from?" Nobuyuki asked.
"Doesn't matter," Toshio said as he and Yumi got up. "Let's get out of here before the entire place caves in on us." Everyone walked up the steps and through the metal doors to street level. When they did, they saw that they weren't the only ones who felt it. Everyone was coming outside wondering what was going on. The ground near a crossroad burst open and a large metal spike appeared. That was followed by a barrel-shaped body and four stubby feet. The spike then opened up like a flower, the spike quartered and a narrow head with two beady eyes and a row of sharp teeth appeared.
"What is that?" Aya asked.
"Some kind of monster," Kouga analyzed.
At the headquarters, Otome was also wondering as she stared at it on the central monitor. Nagaya came in. "Captain, what is that?"
"Gabora," Nagaya hissed. "I thought it was extinct."
"Winger 1 to base," came Yoshi's voice. "Request release code on laser weapons."
"Winger 1, you know that using weapons inside a civilized zone is strictly…"
"Permission granted," Taichi said grabbing the headset that Otome normally uses. "Release code 9-4-5-8-2-6-0!"
"Captain," Otome almost whined. "The Zero Policy!"
"Only applies in times of peace," Nagaya said. "A hostile enemy has officially appeared, the Self-Defense Treaty takes into effect."
"Against other countries, not…"
"Trust me, Otome, it's hostile."
"But sir…" Otome was definitely whining now.
"Otome… shut up!"
"Yes, sir, sorry, sir."
"Understood," Yoshiaki replied. "Wingers 2 and 3, enter 9-4-5-8-2-6-0. That should unlock your weapon controls."
"You mean… we're going to engage it?" Aya asked.
"This is big time, people, move in and engage in delta formation, I'll take point."
Aya was reluctant but programmed the code. There was a click as a computerized voice announced, "Battle Mode activated!" Ahead of her, she saw Yoshiaki's Winger move in front of the monster and fire the lasers that were underneath the Winger's nose. The monster recoiled from the attack. Aya and Kouga joined in the barrage and the monster staggered back. The panels around its head closed in again and the lasers bounced off of it.
"What's that thing made out of?" Kouga asked.
"Don't know, don't care," Yoshi said. "Let's head back to base and…" All of a sudden the head appeared again and unleashed an energy blast. The back of Yoshiaki's Winger exploded.
"Yoshi, bail out!" Aya ordered. Yoshi pulled the handle and his seat shot into the air. "Yoshi, are you all right?"
"I'm okay," Yoshi confirmed pulling his chute. "My Winger's a little trashed though."
"Stay there, I'm coming to pick you up," Aya said.
"Negative, Aya, I can make it on my own. You and Kouga work on stopping that monster! It's heading for the city!"
Nagaya let out so many curses, Otome wondered if he was a navy officer. "Otome, notify the prefecture police and have them sound an evacuation siren. Then get Koji to get the Suzaku Cannon ready and take it to Yoshiaki's position. Have Fumio power up the S.T.A.R. Recall all our field troops to the base. And where the hell is Hanna?"
"Calm down, Captain Nagaya, I'm here," a voice droned. Taichi and Otome turned to see a young girl in a D.A.R.E. uniform. Well, she looked like a young girl, but from the antenna in her hair and the way she turned her head to look around the room, you could tell that she wasn't human. In fact, the give away was her name. Hanna was actually an English acronym that stood for Humanoid Automaton Network Never Aging. Her frame was that of a child, but her eyes didn't have emotion to them. "I've already notified the prefecture police. The JSDF is sending in air support as well. Ensigns Fumio and Koji are already in the air."
"On top of things as always, aren't you, Hanna?" Nagaya asked with a smile.
"Just doing my job, sir."
"Just a show off if you ask me," Otome muttered.
"Otome, send a message to the team, tell them to assist the city in evacuation."
As Gabora lumbered into the city, people started fleeing in terror. Nobuyuki grabbed Yumi's hand and pulled her along, "Hurry up, Yumi."
"I'm coming, I'm coming. Hey Toshio, would you hurry it…" As Yumi turned around, she saw that Toshio wasn't there. "Toshio! Nobuyuki, Ron, Toshio's gone!" The two boys turned around and saw that she was right.
The bright orb hovered over Earth's eastern hemisphere. It could clearly see the battle with Gabora was going on. It had to intervene.
Toshio also found himself separated from the others. But he was trying to go against the flow of people. So he ducked into an alleyway and waited until the crowd died down. However, no sooner had he dared to step out then he came face-to-foot with Gabora. Toshio strained his head to see the spike. The panels parted revealing Gabora's face.
Toshio froze. The monster just stared down at the boy. It then leaned down. Toshio fell to his butt and backpedaled.
Aya was flying by and saw this. "Aya to headquarters, there's a civilian in the area, please advice."
"Aya, this is Yoshiaki, I'm on a building top right near your location. I have a little surprise for our four-legged friend. Move in and pick-up the civilian. Kouga, I want you to blindside it."
"Hey, blindsiding people is what I'm good at." Kouga sent his plane into a nosedive and struck Gabora with its lasers. As Gabora recoiled, Yoshiaki, who was on a building with a bazooka with a bird's head on it, aimed his heavy arms weapon and fired. The shaft of energy sent Gabora to the ground. The metal panels quickly closed up around Gabora's head again.
"Now's your chance," Yoshi said to Aya. "Move in."
"Roger, switching to vertical thrust." The thruster units on the undercarriage of the Winger shifted so that they were pointing down. Slowly, the Winger started to land. As the kid's face came into view, Aya said, "Hey, isn't that…"
Toshio was beginning to think the pilot looked familiar too. The hatch opened and the pilot stood up. "Hurry up and get in!"
"It's you!" Toshio gasped. "You were the one from before, with the car trouble. You're part of D.A.R.E.?" He coiled back like Aya was a poisonous snake poised to strike.
"Hurry up, unless you'd rather remain here with the monster."
Behind him, Toshio could hear the panels opening up. Gabora was getting ready to launch an attack. Toshio decided that D.A.R.E. was the lesser of two evils and sprinted towards the Winger right before the energy ball reached his former location. When he got there, he realized there was one particular problem with his rescue, "Your plane has only one seat."
Aya blinked her eyes. In her haste, she forgot that the Winger was a one-seat jet. She looked down at the kid. This was going to get embarrassing. She held out her hand and helped the kid into the Winger. She sat down in the seat and placed a leg on either side of the seat with the kid in between her. "Just sit tight and keep your hands where I can see them."
Toshio scrunched up into a ball on the edge of the seat. Aya closed the cockpit. "This is Aya, I have the civilian with me."
"Understood," Yoshi replied. "Get as far away from here as you can, we'll cover you… Aya, bank right, now!" When Yoshi yelled, you better listen. Aya threw the control stick to the right accidentally clonking Toshio in the head.
"Sorry, I'm not used to flying with a passenger."
The plane banked just as a yellow energy blast from Gabora shot by them.
"Captain, the J.S.D.F.'s first battalion has reached Gabora's location," Otome reported.
"It won't be enough," Nagaya said.
"Sir, aren't you being a bit too pessimistic. What proof do you have that they will fail?"
Unknown to Otome, Taichi slammed shut a small notebook. "Experience," he said cryptically.
"Captain, there's something entering Earth's atmosphere!"
"Damn it, what now?"
The orb was becoming bright red from the friction in Earth's atmosphere. It angled towards the small crescent-shaped island.
"Darn it, Kouga, where are you?" Aya hissed.
"Sorry, got held up back there." Kouga's Winger came zooming in shooting its lasers.
This isn't good, Aya thought. I want to join the fight but I can't with this kid with me. "Hold on!" She went into a barrel roll as Gabora strafed them again.
A barrage of fire hit Gabora's blind spot. He turned and started stomping on the tanks that had rolled up behind them.
"D.A.R.E. Headquarters to Winger 2, there's an unidentified flying object heading right for you! Take evasive maneuvers!"
"Where is it?" Aya asked as she threw her Winger into a sideslip.
"It's too late, look!" Toshio cried. Aya looked around and saw a red orb heading right for her. She and Toshio screamed.
"Aya!" Kouga called out.
Thinking fast, Toshio pulled the ejection chord. Because he wasn't strapped to the seat like Aya was, only she was thrown into the air. Nobody would care if an Outcast died.
The glowing ball struck the nose of the Winger. The cockpit fell apart. Aya saw shrapnel from the canopy hatch and control panel go right into Toshio's body.
Toshio's eyes were in shock. For a moment, Aya's image was replaced by another woman, someone who looked similar to Aya but her hair was cut in a pageboy style.
What was… Then Toshio was engulfed by light.
"Aya-san? Aya? AYA!" Otome cried.
"It's no use," Nagaya said. "There's only one force that can stop Gabora."
"But what is it?" Otome asked.
"Solar energy is the way to defeat Gabora? You're brilliant, sir!" Nagaya just gave the girl a wary glance.
"Captain, air support has arrived," Hanna announced.
Several F-14s flew through the cityscape and started dive bombing Gabora. Gabora drew its panels up around its head again. Once the planes started to circle around, Gabora's head revealed itself and he fired several balls of energy which destroyed all the JSDF's fighters.
In all the chaos, nobody noticed an energy orb surround the remains of the Winger and someone in particular.
Toshio moaned and opened his eyes. "Where am I?" The place he was in was all golden, it was almost blinding.
Toshio turned around and saw a giant staring down at him. It looked like a human but its face was gray with a protruding bone on top. Its eyes were bug-like and glowing. Its body was red with silver running around it like veins. On its chest was a glowing blue crystal surrounded in a golden broach. It had no mouth just an indentation where a mouth would be. A small diamond was on its forehead.
Toshio screamed for all he's worth. He crouched into a ball, "Don't hurt me."
"Do not be afraid, I have no desire to harm you."
"You don't?" Toshio got up and had to strain his head to look at the giant. "Who are you? What are you?"
"The name of my kind is hard to pronounce. As for me personally, I am called Kinto."
"Kinto," Toshio repeated. "I'm Toshio."
"Toshio, I must apologize. When I saw Gabora, I quickly moved in to help and could not avoid colliding with your aircraft."
"It's not my aircraft, it's… hey, where is the pilot?" As if on cue, a faint image of Aya, landing on a building appeared. "She's alive."
"She's alive," Kinto confirmed. "I'm afraid it's you who is dead."
"I'M DEAD?" Toshio shouted.
"Yes, right now we are speaking in your subconscious, your mind. Your quick thinking saved the pilot but your body was impacted by shrapnel killing you. I am so sorry. I caused this mess so I feel it's my obligation to make it right."
"How are you going to do that?"
"It was my intention to join with one of your species."
"Listen to my story. Since time began, my kind has watched over the Earth in times of great strife. Now I'm afraid the Earth is reaching a crisis point and it starts with Gabora. The Earth needs a hero and I was chosen. However, I can not function on your planet by myself. I need a human host if I am to survive. I was originally planning on bonding with the pilot, but now I feel like I must fuse with you."
"Once joined, my power will restore your body and we'd be able to switch in order to combat. However, this process will only work successfully with your consent. Do not worry, I would never control your mind. The choice is up to you."
"It's not really a choice, is it? If I don't join with you, I die."
"Yes, but you get to decide if we live or die. The choice is yours."
Toshio took another look at Aya in the image. He didn't know why, but it was like something was compelling him to take this step. "I'll do it."
"I am in your debt, Toshio." Kinto lowered his hand down until it was almost on top of Toshio.
Everyone watched in awe as the golden-red orb started to expand, shattering what remained of the Winger. It began to take human shape.
Aya had just untangled herself from underneath her chute when she looked up.
Her body and mind froze at seeing the sight, the red giant with silver trimming and silver face. The golden eyes seemed to stare right into her soul.
"Great, something new to contend with," Kouga groaned. "Hey Yoshi, I see Aya, she's on top of the building to the left of that red giant."
"Roger, I'm on my way there."
Toshio found himself in a strange place. There was an orb-shaped field around him. Beyond the field, he could see outside. "Where am I?" He looked down and realized that he could only see a faint spectral version of his clothes-less body. "Gyah! Where are my clothes?"
"Calm down, Toshio, you're in ethereal form. Material substances such as clothing do not exist in ethereal mode." Kinto's voice echoed all around Toshio.
Toshio's field of vision panned right and tilted down to see Aya. "Good, at least the pilot's safe… hey, why is she staring at me like she's afraid of me."
"Because technically, she's not looking at you, she's looking at me. It's my form that exists in the physical plain."
"Hold on, you said that joining would restore my body."
"And it will, but right now my form is needed to defeat Gabora. It may be my body, but you're in control."
"And just how do I control your body?"
"You control it the same way you would control your own body. Try walking up to Gabora."
"Captain, what is that thing?" Otome asked. "Captain Nagaya?"
Taichi stood straight as a board, muttering. "It can't be, is it really him? Just like he said?"
"Captain, what are you talking about?" Otome asked. "Do you know what that thing is?" But the Captain was silent, just squeezing his lighter with all his hands could hold.
Kinto casually walked up to Gabora. The monster was just as confused about the giant's appearance as the humans were.
"So how am I supposed to do this again?" Toshio asked.
"You've seen how others fight, right?" Kinto asked Toshio.
"Imitate them, try throwing a punch."
On the outside, Kinto made a fist and slugged Gabora, making a "Kyah" sound in the process. The monster crashed into a couple of buildings.
"Was that me?"
"Yes, that was you. Try a kick now."
Kinto brought his foot up and kicked Gabora in the head. He then leapt into the air and came down on Gabora hard causing a small crater to form in the ground.
"That was cool," Toshio commented.
"Don't let your guard down," Kinto advised.
Kinto took a few steps back as Gabora got up. Its panels closed in around its head.
"Like that's going to help you," Toshio said as he ordered his new body to charge forward.
"Toshio, wait!" As Kinto's fist touched the panels, a sharp pain erupted causing Kinto to stagger back. "I tried to warn you, Gabora's armor is harder than diamond, that's how it's able to drill underground."
"Okay, looks like all I have to do is wait until it…" Toshio's soul room (the dark area outside the blue globe he was encased in) started to turn red.
On the outside, the crystal on Kinto's chest also started to flash red. Kinto seemed to regard it intently.
"Kinto, what does that siren mean?" Toshio asked.
"It means big trouble," Kinto said.
"There's not any time to go into a full explanation, but we need to finish this battle fast because if the crystal on my chest stops flashing it could mean the end of us all!"
"Damn, what did he say about Gabora?" Nagaya muttered.
"Captain, what is it?" Otome asked though she knew that he most likely wasn't going to respond to her.
"Uranium," Taichi said snapping his fingers. "Otome, tell Fumio to release the S.T.A.R.'s Hazardous Substance container. If I recall, it contains uranium casing."
Otome gave up on asking why and just relayed the message.
S.T.A.R. stood for Sky Transport and Rescue. While the Wingers D.A.R.E. normally employs were built for speed, the S.T.A.R. lived up to its name by functioning as a rescue and transport plane. The result of a cross breed between an SR-71 and an X-33, the S.T.A.R. supported a wide flat nose, long fuselage, double tail rudders and wings which extended from the back rather than attached to the sides. While it didn't have much maneuverability, it sported tough armor and two powerful fusion cannons, one under each wing. But its main feature was that it served as a mobile command center supporting a crew of six plus extra passengers if need be. The danger of S.T.A.R. was that there was no way to escape quickly or safely.
S.T.A.R. also contained a Hazardous Substance container, a large metal ball designed for containing and hauling dangerous chemicals. Its outer layer was made of a non-radioactive uranium substance and contained a lead interior.
Fumio and Koji, who were piloting it, moved S.T.A.R. between Gabora and Kinto. A hatch towards the rear opened up and an orb was deposited onto the ground. Gabora's panels opened up and the monster slowly walked towards it.
"This is our chance," Kinto said. "Toshio, follow these movements…"
Kinto held up his right arm and punched the wrist device that was on it. Energy started to gather in it. Lowering his right arm so that the two arms together formed an L-shape, the wrist device fired a shaft of energy. The shaft of energy hit Gebora in the head sending it into some other buildings. Its head exploded followed by its body.
"I did it… I actually did it!" Toshio leapt up in celebration.
"Toshio, careful, don't forget what this body does is a reflection of what you do."
On the outside, people started to carefully walk up to Kinto. Kinto looked down at them all. Then he looked up at Aya who was now joined by Yoshi.
"Oh great, I can't leave with all these people here."
"I can fly?"
Kinto raised his arms to the sky and with a "Shoowatch" took off.
On the building, Aya touched the communicator on the side of her helmet. "Aya to headquarters; request S.T.A.R. for pursuing of the red giant."
"Negative, Aya, let him go."
"Let him go? But Captain, how do we know he won't wreck havoc on the city?"
"Let him go, Aya, our job is to help people recover from a disaster, not cause new ones."
Aya sighed, "Understood, sir." She looked up at the sky. Poor kid, she thought.
Kinto soared down to an alleyway far away from the battle sight. As he touched down, he started to glow. He shrunk down and Toshio appeared in his place. "I'm back," he said. He then felt something on his arm. He pushed open his sleeve and saw a gold wrist device with a black center and twelve small red lights at regular intervals around it. "What is this?"
"This is the Ultra Brace. When danger arises it will turn blue. When it does, touch it with your fist and you'll gain my power and form."
"Kinto, where are you?"
"Inside you, we're bonded remember."
"This is going to be strange."
"One more thing, please don't tell anybody about our connection. If word got out, it could prove disastrous for those around you."
"I don't want anybody to get caught up in this. I guess I can handle it."
"Toshio!" It was Nobuyuki and the others. Toshio lowered his sleeve covering the Ultra Brace just in time as Yumi once again threw herself into Toshio's arms and once again, the force sent them both tumbling to the ground. Despite their rough landing, Yumi continued to nuzzle up to Toshio like a cat. "Oh Toshi-chan, I was so worried about you. I never want to leave your side again."
"Yumi, stop, you're embarrassing me."
Captain Nagaya leaned down and whispered into Hanna's ear, "Did you trace the signal?"
"Yes, sir," the android replied.
"Good, keep a satellite trained on it."
D.A.R.E. Captain Nagaya uses Toshio's friends to convince him to join D.A.R.E. And Toshio discovers that the Ultra Brace has one critical flaw.
The Twelve Trials