Author: Green Phantom Queen
Summary: During the Subaruboshi High School Festival, Ryusei Sakuta wanders into a fortune-telling booth so he can catch a glimpse of his future. What shall he uncover, and what shall he do with the knowledge that is in the cards?
Note: This story is set in the "Horseshoes and Hand-grenades" universe, but can be read as its own separate piece.
"Every man has his own destiny: the only imperative is to follow it, accept it, no matter where it leads him."
Under normal circumstances, the Subaruboshi High School Festival would've been the best day ever. There were food vendors, outside performances, games, haunted houses and more. It was when students were allowed to go to school and have fun and not worry about classes, homework or the occasional pop quiz.
Not for Ryusei Sakuta, who was currently walking across the festival with a frown on his face. He was supposed to be happy and excited—or as happy and excited as he would show on his face—to be at the festival, but he couldn't. That was because his best friend was recently put into a coma after the two had an argument over the item in his friend's hand.
Jiro...Ryusei thought to himself, remembering how his friend pressed onto the Zodiarts Switch.Why did you even take that thing in the first place? We were friends, weren't we? Why would you go and betray me like that? What did I do to make you so bitter?
He pulled out the item in his pocket—a blue Astroswitch with a symbol of a meteor. This was given to him as he watched Jiro being admitted into the hospital, along with a special belt and a letter attached to it. He still remembered what the letter said.
"I have heard about your loss, Ryusei Sakuta. If you wish to reawaken your friend, take the mantle as Kamen Rider Meteor and slay the monsters that are known as the Zodiarts. While I wish to fight alongside you, my body is incapable to battle these threats. That is why I ask you to take this task and save Japan from this threat."
The two never met face to face, but instead all Ryusei had to do was press on the Meteor Switch, talk into it, and Tachibana would respond. It was kind of like a walkie-talkie—with the other communicator being in outer space and orbiting the Earth below. He hadn't heard word from Tachibana ever since he received the driver, but he knew that the strange man would talk to him once more when it was time.
Ryusei passed by vendors cooking yakitori and takoyaki, never noticing the looks on the customers' faces when they received their meals. It just made him reminisce on last year's festival, when he and Jiro bought those same foods to share amongst themselves. They laughed, played festival games, scared each other while traversing into the haunted house, and more. That year, they were still friends. What happened to them that made them drift apart twelve months later?
Still stewing in his own thoughts, he soon found himself in front of a fortune-teller's tent swathed in purple. Painted on the tent were the symbols of the twelve—or was it thirteen, seeing the strange U and its wavy line—Zodiac signs, all shining in silver glitter. In front of the tent were a stool with a black cat statue, and a sign that read, "Madame Pollux: Reader of Fortunes, Vessel of the Stars" in gold letters. Ryusei narrowed his eyes—this was nothing more than some phony psychic coming in to make the teenage girls feel all giddy over whom they were going to marry twenty years into the future.
So it surprised, no shocked Ryusei, when he somehow found his feet approaching this mysterious tent. When he pushed the tent flap away, he was greeted with a strong smell of incense. All around him, he found different tools that could be used for divination: ancient tomes marked with pentagrams and archaic symbols on their spines, glass jars filled with different types of ingredients like 'Cygnet Feathers', or 'Hermit Crab shells' that were used for brewing potions, and an opened bag of knuckle bones—he hoped those were from an animal, and not from a human corpse—marked with a few tally marks. The paraphernalia was…interesting, to say the least.
At the center of it all was the fortuneteller herself. It looked like something out of a book that Ryusei read long, long ago. In front of the fortuneteller was a table draped in a purple tablecloth showered with gold star confetti, a collection of tarot cards resting on a black silk drawstring bag, a crystal ball covered in smoke resting on a dragon pedestal, and the fortuneteller herself draped in a dark purple robe and veil to reveal only her yellow eyes. The only sources of light within this tent were a set of electric candles, topped with little light-bulbs to resemble flames.
Even if this was just for the festival, Ryusei had to give the woman some credit: she was really doing her best to look like an authentic fortuneteller. She almost had him fooled for a minute.
"Welcome to my humble abode," said the fortuneteller, lifting her head to meet Ryusei's gaze. Her golden eyes shone through the dim light of the faux candles. "I am Madame Pollux, and I shall be the one who decides your fate."
"Well, hello then," said Ryusei, giving her a smile. It was a fake smile—the kind of smile that read 'I'm trying to be polite, but I'm not actually smiling at you' that he had been practicing for quite some time. "My name is—"
"Don't tell me!" Madame Pollux cried dramatically. She placed a polished fingernail—which was decorated to resemble a star in the night sky—on her forehead and tapped it in contemplation. "Your name…it's…Hoshi? No…Inseki? No, that's not right…Wait, it's…Ryusei! Yes…" She placed her hands together, her eyes showing a hint of a smile as she correctly guessed the name of the boy in front of her. "You are Ryusei Sakuta of Subaruboshi High's Martial Arts team, correct?"
She must've heard my name from Mei…Ryusei thought, slightly narrowing his eyes. If that's how this 'Madame' wants to use her psychic powers, fine. I'll play along. Let's see how far this goes.
"That's right!" Ryusei replied, still with that smile on his face. "My, you're very talented."
"Ah, but I sense that you are a disbeliever. You do not trust in my ability to see the future, do you?"
"N…no! I was actually amazed how you were able to know my name and which club I went to, Madame," Ryusei laughed, trying to brush the subject aside. "I mean…"
"Do not try to hide your insecurities from me," Madame Pollux interrupted, wagging a finger at him. "How am I able to read your fortune if you are in denial? You will not be able to decide your fate if you turn away from the truth."
I have a couple of words about what I honestly think about you...Ryusei thought. Instead, he replied with, "Really now?"
"Sit down and let me see what is deep within your heart," Madame Pollux went to her side and pulled out a large scroll of parchment. She unraveled it in front of Ryusei, revealing a circle of different astrological signs—thirteen, Ryusei counted as he noticed that familiar U and wavy line between the symbols of Scorpio and Sagittarius—which rested under a set of upside down and right-side up triangles. He soon sat himself down and placed his hands on his lap, giving the fortuneteller his best beaming smile.
"Now," said Madame Pollux, running a finger over the astrological signs. "Will you tell me your birthday?"
"June 6th," Ryusei answered pleasantly. "That would make me a..."
"Gemini? Correct," Madame Pollux pointed at the symbol for Gemini. It looked like the Roman Numeral 2—which was accurate, seeing as Gemini represented 'The Twins'-only with the lines that ran through the top and bottom of the two lines curved, so that the top looked like a smile and the other one resembled a frown. "They are blessed by Mercury, the Messenger of the Gods, and they fall under the element of Air." She then pointed to the triangle underneath Gemini's sign—a triangle with a line passing through the near top. "I see. Now, can you tell me more about your life?"
"Um, I guess so."
"Do you live alone?"
"Yes, all by myself."
"Are your parents amongst the living? Are they here?"
"N-no," Ryusei stuttered. That was strange—didn't he have a mother and father? He closed his eyes and tried to remember what they looked like, but he couldn't find anything about them.
"Do you have any brothers or sisters? Any aunts or uncles? Do you even have a guardian?"
"I-I don't think so..." Ryusei's hands began to tremble. "Or at least, not that I can recall…"
"Very interesting..." Madame Pollux placed her hands over her Tarot Deck and shuffled it. "I sense some insecurity in your heart, Sakuta. Do you wish to delve more into past? Or would you like to see into your future?"
"I decide whether or not I want to do so," Ryusei replied. "And..."
"And?" Madame Pollux stopped shuffling the cards and spread them across the table. "You can leave through the tent at any time that you want. This is a free reading, after all."
There was truth in the fortune-teller's words; Ryusei didn't have to be in the stuffy tent with all of the incense choking him and the dim light making it hard to see. Yet...he felt that he could find answers in this tent. No matter how hard he tried, there were no memories of a family at all. In fact, he just felt the words "June 6th" enter his mind automatically, like he was pulling up a file from a computer.
"I..." Ryusei bowed his head. "I want to know more about myself. I feel...disconnected."
"Ah, you do not know how to connect to yourself," Madame Pollux closed her eyes. "That is the problem with today's youth—they do not know how to see eye to eye with their fellow friends, yet feel at peace when they talk on a phone or online. They feel as if people know what it's like to be them. Isn't that strange?"
"I guess," Ryusei replied, lightly patting the Meteor Switch in his pocket. "So, how does this reading work?"
"You shall choose three cards at random and they will determine your past, your present and your future. However, it will be up for you to decide if you want the third card to be your fate. Will you decide?"
"Yes, I shall."
"What would you wish to learn? Would you like to learn about your past or your future?"
Ryusei hesitated –on one hand, he'd love to learn more about his family. He didn't know anything about his past besides his birthday and his name. Heck, he didn't even remember even celebrating a birthday. He felt so distant from the world.
On the other hand, it would've been great to know whether or not Jiro would be free from his coma. When will he finally wake up, and would Jiro apologize for his actions? If only he had a sure sign that would tell him that things would be all right - that in the end, Jiro would wake up and they could be friends once more.
"Well?" asked Madame Pollux, raising an eyebrow. "What do you decide?"
Ryusei looked into the fortuneteller's eyes and answered, "I decide my fate."
"Ah, you are one who moves forward instead of backwards. I like that." Madame Pollux waved a hand over her spread deck of Tarot Cards. "Pick a card, any card. This will give me some identification to your past"
Ryusei reached toward one of the cards and flipped it over. It depicted six golden goblets filled with white pointed flowers, and a young boy on a donkey handing a flower-filled goblet to another girl. The only problem with this card was that it was upside-down, and the image pointed toward Ryusei instead of the fortune-teller.
"An inverted Six of Cups to start," Madame Pollux murmured. "You have been dealt a horrible blow not so long ago. This card questions whether or not you are ready to forgive and forget. Tell me, was there a recent fallout?"
"Y-yeah...my best friend is stuck in a coma after we had this giant fight about our friendship," Ryusei squeezed his eyes shut as he recalled their fight. The one thing that stuck out was what Jiro said before he pressed down on the malfunctioning Zodiarts Switch.
"Friends?" Jiro scoffed. "What nonsense! The only thing I need...is this Switch!"
"I see," Madame Pollux let out a sigh. "How long has it been?"
"At least two weeks, but I'm already searching for the cure. I want to see my friend open his eyes once more."
"Yes you do, but let us not focus on the past or future at this very moment. Pick a card to reveal your present day and present time."
Ryusei slowly reached toward the next card and flipped it over. This card depicted a man sitting in front of a pile of riches with a golden coin above his head, two under his feet and one wrapped in his arms, each of them having a pentagram onto the center. It was if the man was on constant guard, fearing that his riches would be stolen if he wasn't vigilant.
"Oh, the Four of Coins," said Madame Pollux. "It seems as you are tied up with something—perhaps it is the desire to find the cure for your friend's ailment?"
"I have to be; I have to find the cure as soon as I can. Jiro's life depends on it!" Ryusei slammed his fists on the table. "Jiro...my best friend..."
"I know that he is very close to you, but you must not be too obsessed with your friend," Madame Pollux closed her eyes. "You are okay as you are, just relaxing and taking time off. Sometimes, we must go through side-paths while walking down destiny's crossroads. Coming here to see me was a good choice, Ryusei. Now, draw the card that will reveal your future and let me decide your fate."
Ryusei slowly nodded his head and reached out for the third and final card. He flipped it over, revealing nine wooden staffs and a tired young man leaning against one. It looked as if he went through a war, but whether he survived it or just escaped the fighting was a different story altogether.
"The Nine of Wands," Madame Pollux gasped. "This is a very good sign. It means that you shall be victorious in finding what you desire!"
Jiro! Ryusei thought in his mind.So Jiro can be saved! He'll recover! And we'll be friends again...
"But..." That word snapped Ryusei out of his thoughts. Madame Pollux sighed. "There seems to be a small obstacle in your path just as everything is about to turn right. Do not worry about it though—by this time, you would have everything you need to complete your task. You must be persistent, but also take precaution. Expect the worst to come from these situations." The fortuneteller gathered the three cards for the reading and placed them back into the spread out deck. She took in a deep breath. "You have good things coming to you, Sakuta. Now then, I must ask you one question..."
"What's that?" asked Ryusei, his mind buzzing with excitement. Jiro could be saved! That was the best news he had all day!
"Do you decide if this fate is yours or do I? Who decides?"
This was an easy question. Without hesitating, Ryusei smiled and answered, "I do."
There was silence as Madame Pollux looked into Ryusei's eyes. Ryusei felt his heart beating against his chest—the future was bright, and he was going to seize it. The fortune-teller then nodded her head.
"Very well," she said. "I am glad that we had this encounter. Go and have your fun at the festival, and may we cross paths again in the next life."
"Thank you!" Ryusei replied, bowing toward the fortune-teller. "Thank you very much."
Ryusei walked off with a smile on his face as a blast of sunlight illuminated the dimly-lit tent. The fortune-teller winced when she felt the sunlight enter her eyes before all became dark once more. When it was quiet, the fortune-teller felt her body shudder and her head loll to the side. Her yellow eyes flickered until they were a shade of bright blue. Madame Pollux groaned and placed a hand on her forehead.
"W-what happened to me?" asked the now confused fortune-teller. "W-where am I?"
"Mei-chan! Mei, are you in here?"
Mei Shirawkawa removed the hooded veil over her face as she noticed Azusa Seta, Subaruboshi High's PE teacher, enter the tent. There was a look of relief on the teacher's face as she sat down.
"There you are!" said Seta. "Where have you been? Your shift ended twenty minutes ago!"
"I-I don't know," Mei answered. "One minute, I was preparing to head off for some shaved ice and then...I blacked out. Did anyone come for a reading while I was knocked out?"
"I just saw Ryusei leave the tent with a big smile on his face! I mean, it was as if someone just gave him a ray of sunshine on his parade. Why do you ask?"
Mei looked at the shuffled cards in her hand and the astronomy chart in front of her. If Ryusei did come for a reading, what was it for? And why could she not remember it? Was she possessed by the spirit of divinity, giving a blessing toward her best friend to help him in his troubled times? She couldn't really say for certain as to what it was.
As both teacher and student pondered on what had happened inside Madame Pollux's Fortune Booth, they were oblivious to the silent hiss of a serpent slithering outside into the sunlight.
"Okay everyone, sit down," said Sarina Sonada to her students in the middle of January. Immediately, everyone began to sit down as she stood in front of the whiteboard. "Taking Yamada-kun's place is a new student."
Ryusei Sakuta looked toward the faces of his fellow students. He gave them all a shy smile, in an attempt to look like he was scared to transfer out of his old school (which he wasn't.)
The door to the classroom suddenly burst open as a boy in a biker jacket and pompadour rushed in just as the school bell finished ringing.
"I'm safe, right?" he exclaimed, panting for breath. Sonada just stayed silent as the boy turned to Ryusei.
"Oh, who are you?" he asked.
Wait a minute…Ryusei thought to himself, recalling a battle that happened a week ago. Is he…Kamen Rider Fourze?
"This is Ryusei Sakuta, the transfer student of Subaruboshi High School," Sonada answered, just as Ryusei was about to say something. "Our chairman wanted other students to know the brilliance of Amanogawa High."
"That's right," Ryusei replied, still keeping an innocent smile on his face. "Let's all get together and study hard for the next half year!"
"Alright! I am Gentaro Kisaragi," said the boy with the pompadour. "Let's get along and be friends!"
I'd rather not….Ryusei replied. He recalled the tarot reading from the festival. I've got too much on my plate than to be friends with someone as you.
Gentaro wasn't deterred by this silence as he grabbed Ryusei's hand and took him to some desks at the corner, seating him down with a big smile on his face. Gentaro's friends Yuki and Kengo also said hello, with Ryusei smiling back. When they turned their attention to their teacher, he frowned in annoyance.
The Aries Zodiarts is around here somewhere. He thought, opening his hand to stare at the Meteor Switch. I know it. He won't get away from me so easily.
Ryusei Sakuta found himself involved with Gentaro Kisaragi and his so-called "Kamen Rider Club" in an attempt to find more and more information about the Aries Zodiarts. After months of having to go through their proclamations of friendship, their childish antics and having to run off at the slightest provocation of a Zodiarts (in order to transform into Meteor and to keep his identity a secret), he found his answer as to where the Aries Zodiarts resided.
He was currently in his old High School, having been transferred around the time Ryusei was in Amanogawa High.
The student was named Yamada Tatsumori, who proclaimed himself as the "Apostle of Sleep", due to the abilities of the Aries Zodiarts. With this power, he became a tyrant that ruled the High School and made everyone—from the students to the faculty—his little puppets for his twisted High School play. With the Coppelius staff he held in his hand, he could place anyone into sleep. BUT, Ryusei also found out that it was able to do the opposite—awaken anyone who fell into a deep sleep. This was just what he needed.
That was why he was in the hallway of his school, waiting for Yamada to show up. He needed Yamada to bring Jiro back to life, and he would do anything to ensure that Yamada would keep his word.
By chance, Yamada came down the stairs, carrying a copy of Macbeth in his hands. The two locked eyes for a moment, trying to see who would be the first to speak. Yamada was the first to break that silence.
"You're Sakuta-kun…correct?" he asked.
Ryusei nodded his head, his face serious as he asked, "I want something from you."
There was the obstacle.
In front of his eyes, Ryusei Sakuta saw Kamen Rider Fourze and Aries Zodiarts duke it out over one another, the Kamen Rider fighting to protect his friends, and the tyrant wishing to destroy all who opposed him. This was in the Tarot Reading back at the school festival—the Nine of Wands. He knew who was the obstacle and who was the goal, and he was going to make sure that he would not mess this up. Jiro's recovery depended on this success.
Fourze, transformed into the bulky Magnet State, pulled the N/S Magnet Switches up as the cannons on his shoulders lifted into the air and fused to form one large horseshoe magnet. Standing by his side were his friends and allies, the Kamen Rider Club, ready to see Fourze defeat the Zodiarts that was causing a rampage in Subaruboshi High.
"RIDER SUPER ELECTROMAGNETIC BOMBER!" Gentaro announced, watching the MagCannons spew a giant beam of electromagnetic energy at his target, ready to see Aries Zodiarts defeated once and for all...
But just as the attack was about to connect, it was blocked by blue sphere of energy. When the attacks died down, there was a being that stood inbetween Fourze and Aries: Kamen Rider Meteor Storm, with his Meteor Staff in hand.
Kamen Rider Meteor Storm—a.k.a Ryusei Sakuta—released the Meteor Storm Drive from his staff just as Fourze was about to try the super bomber attack once more.
"Meteor Storm Punisher!" Meteor Storm cried as the two attacks connected. The Meteor Storm switch penetrated through the beams and drilled through Fourze's stomach like a buzzsaw. The MagCannon flew off into the distance as Fourze let out a yell of both surprise and pain. Fourze slammed against the wall as the other members of the Kamen Rider Club looked in shock.
Kengo turned to Kamen Rider Meteor Storm. "What the hell are you doing, Meteor?!" he screamed.
Meteor Storm didn't answer, but instead rushed toward his opponent. The MagCannon fired everywhere, shooting red and blue beams of electromagnetic energy in a frenzied pattern. Meanwhile, Meteor Storm began to relentlessly attack the defenseless Fourze with his staff, the sparks flying when the attacks connected. He kicked Fourze in the stomach before pulling Fourze away from the wall.
"Meteor!" Fourze exclaimed. "Why? Why are you attacking me?!"
"You said that you'd do anything to help a friend, right?" asked Meteor Storm, recalling Fourze's speech earlier that day.
Realization hit Fourze as Meteor began to attack him once more. Fourze tried to bring out one of his Astroswitches, but it was no use. Magnet State was too slow and bulky to move around against the faster and more powerful Meteor Storm.
"Wait...it can't be!" Fourze gasped. "You..."
Meteor Storm slammed the Meteor Storm Switch into the Meteor Driver and spun the giant black globe that activated the driver. He became swathed in blue and yellow light that rotated around him like a globe.
"Then take this and DIE FOR ME, GENTARO KISARAGI!" Meteor Storm screamed as he jumped into the air.
"I can't die that easily!" Fourze retorted using Magnet States' jetpack to initiate a kick of his own. The two soon collided in a large explosion, but only Meteor Storm's kick connected. Fourze let out a scream as his armor faded away, returning him into his Base State form. Fourze flipped onto his back and groaned while Meteor Storm slowly approached him. He lifted his adversary onto his feet, turned him around and drew his fist back. This was it. This was the moment he was waiting for—by killing Gentaro, Aries Zodiarts would bring Jiro back to life. Then, everything would be right again.
Ryusei brought his fist toward Fourze's heart but stopped just one inch away from delivering the fatal blow. A thought appeared in his head. No, not a thought...a memory. It was the Subaruboshi High School Festival, and it was him in that tent with Madame Pollux. The last words of their conversation was heard.
"Do you decide if this fate is yours or do I? Who decides?"
Ryusei bowed his head as those questions echoed in his mind. Was this how it was supposed to end? With him killing Gentaro Kisaragi in order to bring his friend back to life? Was he going to sacrifice someone, someone who promised to be his friend and constantly begging Ryusei to open up, just to reunite with a friend who only wanted the contents of the Zodiarts Switch in hand?
"Stop it!" cried Yuki Jojima, praying that Meteor would change his mind at the last minute. Ryusei didn't hear it—all he heard was the answer he gave to Madame Pollux before leaving. The answer to her question was easy.
"I am the one who decides my fate," he replied as he performed the one-inch punch. "Die for me, Gentaro Kisaragi."
Just like that, Kamen Rider Fourze's armor faded away. Gentaro Kisaragi dropped to his knees, gasping for breath, before he fell on his back, dead.
Yakitori-Grilled chicken skewers, but can also be non-chicken based with ingredients like beef tongue, pork belly and scallions
Takoyaki-Fried dumplings with pieces of octopus inside
Hoshi-Japanese for 'Star'
Inseki-Japanese for comet. Also to note: Ryusei means 'Meteor' in Japanese