A/N: In the spirit of Raikiri Triken! I might even throw that in…
Stalker of the Decade
by Shadow Crystal Mage
World of Shota 01: The Photographer
Disclaimer: All series belong to their respective owners. I make no money off this. This is parody and therefore protected speech.
The dream was always the same.
Battle surrounded her, inhumanly strong beings capable of crushing her in a heartbeat fighting all around, yet ignoring her as insignificant while she stood in her sweaty, slightly charred clothes. Rays of light and lightning arched above, bringing destruction. Giant monsters cried as powerful warriors whose punches needed to be measured in tons fought them. The noise of the battle was deafening.
The girl snoozing at the front desk woke up. "Darn it," she muttered, peeling her face off the countertop. "That stupid dream again..."
She really wished she'd stop dreaming about the Kosmo Entelekhia battle.
She suppressed a yawn. Another sleepless night crunching data and writing code for the ISSDA. Darn it, she couldn't keep living like this! She wasn't a teenager anymore, after all. Still, what was she to do? Her grandfather liked them having dinner together and the old man tended to linger over his food, mostly because he didn't eat so much as watch her eat to see if she liked it. She didn't have the heart, or lack thereof, to tell him to cut it out.
This meant she did most of her work at night, crunching through data and calculations and all the other things her Magister needed advice on. Many had mistakenly thought that she had gone to be a full-time hikkikomori after graduation. That wasn't true of course. Oh, it was certainly an option– after all, she could just order anything she really needed off the net– but circumstances had dictated she not take that route. After she'd gotten word that her paternal grandmother had died, she'd left to move in with her grandfather and help him run the family photo studio. That had been some years ago.
Contrary to what her classmates might have thought– but not her magister, never her magister, since he seemed physically incapable of that when they were involved– she wasn't the sort to just let her family rot away and die. She was actually a very family-oriented person, and her sudden disappearance for months that summer in her third year of middle school had sent her in-laws into a panic. Cousin Kobato had been inconsolable for weeks even after she got back. She still owed her an explanation…
Idly, she wondered how her cousin was doing with her girlfriend who liked to cosplay as a nun. What had it been about that year that they'd let just any kid be a teacher?
She was wondering whether to give the girl a call when the door to the Hasegawa Photo Studio snapped open, and a group of indignant women holding glossy photos all stomped in angrily. Chisame suppressed a groan. Not again!
"Tsunetsuki…" she growled ominously before she was drowned in a deluge of complaints.
It was a perfectly ordinary day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the reflective surfaces flickered oddly and showed strange figures moving about even with no one to reflect them, and there was a scene going on at the park. Voices whispering in your head optional.
One figure wearing a long-sleeved man's shirt, suspenders, a red cloth cap, a red bow tie and red jodhpurs bent, weaved and dodged effortlessly, picking up fallen pictures from the ground. "Not this one either," she said in annoyance as she nonchalantly avoided a grab to bend down and pick up another picture. "Failures, failures, failures. None of them show DEEP LOVE." She sighed, moving in time to avoid being slapped by an annoyed woman. "Got to keep trying..."
She looked up in time to get a face full of angry hacker.
"Damn it Tsunetsuki, why do you keep giving people our address to claim your crappy photos!" the tsundere screamed as she grabbed the photographer by her lapels. "Do you know how much you're costing? Do you think we're making any money from pissed off people who don't want to pay? Do you know how much developing chemicals cost for a small business owner?-! For crying out loud, it's the 21st century! At least use a digital camera like everyone else if all you're going to make is crap!-!-!-!-!"
As can be derived from the five exclamation marks, Chisame's mind was slightly disturbed.
"It's not my fault," Tsunetsuki Matoi protested apathetically as those who had been crowding her backed off a little, seeing someone chewing her out to seemingly some effect. "The world rejects me! It doesn't want me to photograph it."
"Or you just suck. Either way, stop sending them to our studio!"
"I can't suck," she declared, managing to pose dramatically in the other woman's grip. "I'm good at everything!"
"Except taking photographs, apparently," Chisame growled, releasing the other woman and grabbing her by the wrist, dragging her away. "Ugh, come on! We're going back to the studio so you can sort things out!"
"Hey!" one of the women who'd been after Matoi protested. "What about us?"
"Not my problem!" Chisame shot back. "Bitch at her on your own time!"
"Isn't this bad for business, Chisamehada?" Matoi asked a bit insolently, resigning herself to being pulled as the crowd dispersed, shooting her dark looksas she raised her camera and absently took a picture of Chisame.
"Chisame!" the hacker corrected. "Stop it with that stupid nickname!"
Somewhere, someone screamed
Chisame, acting on instinct from her years in school, checked to see if she'd suddenly been stripped naked. Nope, definitely still clothed. Discretely, she checked that she still had her underwear. Yup, still there.
And then the sky filled with monsters.
They'd gotten separated in the aftermath. Some kind of… rippling… wall… thing had appeared between them, and Tsunetsuki had sort of disappeared. Chisame felt passing concern for the girl, which was overwhelmed by tremendous concern for her grandfather. She'd left him all alone in the studio, and while he was enough together to function when it came to day-to-day matters, she didn't think he'd be able to cope in an emergency.
Speaking of emergencies…
She had tried to call him on her phone, but she couldn't get through. Her Pactio card nestled in her pocket, warm and reassuring as she drew power from it the way she'd eventually had to learn, if only for the rather mundane reason of being able to pull all-nighters. Around her people panicked, not knowing what was going on, horrified at the monsters above. A little part of her pitied them for being so normal. In her old school, even the most dyed in the wool mundane would have thought this was at some level awesome. At least they wouldn't have panicked and lost their heads.
And then the other monsters appeared, and people started losing their heads a bit more literally.
Chisame didn't try to save the bystanders around her. She wasn't that girl, darn it! It was already bad enough she thought of other people as 'bystanders'. She she ran, ashamed and guilty even as the world seemed to go mad around her, each step taking her to a strange place, with other monsters, and always more bystanders being harmed. It rained suddenly, and it had always been raining. A burning hot deserted rock quarry lay underfoot, when her last step had been in a burning factory. A plaza that for some reason crawled with giant lobsters and insects.
She kept running, knowing she was lost. She kept on the move, hoping every moment she'd find herself somewhere she knew, somewhere she could make her way home from.
A burned wasteland of a city, covered in blood
A battered shore on the edge of a crimson sea, while up above the moon had been torn in half, what looked like a red cross marking half of the shattered face…
A frozen city dominated by an enormous spire that rose into the sky and beyond the clouds…
Dinosaurs welding laser weapons fought a group of giant lumberjacks as a pair of ninja, one dressed like a magician, the other like a doctor, leapt among them.
A small, foggy town, the sign proclaiming it 'Forks', with an enormous burning rock about to drop on it from the sky as, for some reason, a bunch of idiots stood beneath it playing baseball.
A red flying pirate ship sailed above as people pretty much went about in an orderly fashion, avoiding the monsters as police offers stood their ground against them with nothing but pistols and truncheons…
"Chisamehada!" a muffled and strangely attenuated voice cried.
Chisame stopped and whirled, finding herself facing one of those wavering walls. Matoi stood on the other side, trying to hammer at it with a…
She blinked, double-checking to make sure. The other woman seemed to be trying to batter down the wall with a telephone pole she'd apparently ripped off the ground, one end still trailing a few wires.
"Tsunetsuki?" she yelled, hoping she was heard through the… whatever it was. She was NORMAL, darn it! She wouldn't know! "And don't call me that!"
The other woman grinned. "You okay?"
Chisame stared at her for the inane question. "WHAT PART OF ANY OF THIS LOOKS OKAY?-!-?-!-?-!-?" she screamed, gesturing around them. Behind Tsunetsuki, she could clearly see the burning remnants of a temple surrounded by shuffling, zombie-like figures Tsunetsuki seemed to be casually ignoring, which in no way seemed to be related to the snow-covered parking lot under a lime-green sky Chisame found herself in.
Tsunetsuki looked fairly blasé for a moment before her eyes widened and she pointed frantically behind Chisame.
Chsiame dove to the side, rolling, then whirled to see what, if anything she'd run away from.
A perfect double of her stood a few feet away from where she'd been standing, and by perfect, Chisame was annoyed to see, meant it didn't have the small collecting of pocked skin, dry spots, occasional pimples and the small scar on one cheek she'd gotten in Mundus Magicus. The doppleganger smiled evilly– actually evilly, with obvious evil and everything! She thought only Saotome really smiled liked that in real life– before seeming to bulge and grow, becoming this monstrous thing before that appearance fell away as well, to be replaced by another monstrous thing.
Behind her, she could hear Tsunetsuki resuming battering at the rippling wall, the sounds of impact strange to her ears. More monsters appeared as the first lunged and tried to grab her, but she evaded it, kicking at one knee with a panic- and Pactio-fueled foot. She was dismayed not to hear anything break. Frantically, she grabbed a metal bar, seemingly broken off a nearby railing, and swung it in an uncoordinated attempt to ward them off.
"DAMN IT SENSEI, WHERE ARE YOU?-!-?" she cried. "AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO SAVE US FROM STUFF LIKE THIS?"
From beyond the wall, she heard Tsunetsuki cry "Henshin!"
A moment later, the rippling wall seemed to shatter, the shockwave knocking some of the monsters closest to it off their feet.
"Absolute Victory Unlosing Ride: Decade!" a digitized voice said.
In the relative spot where Tsunetsuki had been standing was a clearly-feminine figure in black, white and magenta. A white 'X' was emblazoned on her chestplate as a trefoil magena cape fluttered behind her. Large, insect-like eyes on a vaguely bullet-faced, cat-eared helmet with black bars in front. The general shape reminded Chisame of the helmet of the girl with the eyepatch who piloted that robot in the movie version of the old TV series glittered in the light as the entire figure seemed to ripple slightly, as if shrouded in a heat haze.
Chisame stared blankly as the monsters scampered away, obviously surprised by the new figure. "What. The. Fuck?"
"Oh, no you don't!" the figure cried in a feminine voice that was only vaguely recognizable as Tsunetsuki's, giving chase as it reached down to its side where what looked like a thin, card-like shape seemed to leap from a rectangular folder that hung there and into the figure's hand. The figure slipped the card into a device at its belt buckle without looking, gesturing with both hands to seemingly lock it in place.
"Absolute Victory Unlosing Ride," the digitized voice said again, "J!"
Chisame had never seen a giant step on anyone before.
"What the hell was that all about?-!-?-!-?" Chisame cried as she tried to run, rage and talk at the same time. After several more fight scenes that she felt were a bit too gratuitous and the digitized voice saying "Absolute Victory Unlosing Ride: Something" a couple more times, the weird shifting had ended up depositing them at a corner Chisame had recognized as being only a few blocks from her grandfather's studio.
"No idea," Matoi said, once more back in her boys clothes, her camera bouncing from her neck. She was looking at a bunch of the 'cards' in her hand, the credit-card-like things all bearing a greyed out, faded image. Kuuga, Agito, Blade, G, V3… "After we got separated, I ran into a couple of generically good-looking bishounen types who seemed to know what was going on but got all cryptic and wouldn't say anything useful." Ryuuki, Faiz, Hibiki, Akiba…
"I know the type," Chisame groused, remembering the recluse who lived under the library.
J, ZO, ZX, X, RX… "Anyway, one of them gave me this fancy belt and folder and suddenly it turns out I'm…" she paused dramatically, spinning as she ran and pointing. Black, Shin, Stronger, Skyrider… "The Absolute Victory Unlosing Rider Decade, who's supposed to save the world… or something. Or maybe worlds. They said there's a bunch of worlds I need to go to, but apparently only one I need to save…? I don't know, they were inconsistent with their singulars and plurals. Apparently I'm supposed to destroy all 'Riders', whatever those are." Kabuto, Deno-O, Kiva, Amazon… "I hope they don't mean I'm supposed to commit suicide…" Ichigo, Nigo, Super-1, Memory … "They didn't even tell me how I'm supposed to get to these other worlds, never mind how I'm supposed to save them…"
"You probably weren't listening," Chisame said as they passed a burning tree.
Matoi lingered a moment longer on the last card, the one marked 'Memory', before tucking it away as they reached the last corner. The neighborhood around the studio seemed strangely peaceful even as sirens blared loudly. In the distance, a building had a whole bunch of giant lobsters climbing on it. Chisame ran inside, Matoi coming up a bit slower behind her so she could keep the door from slamming.
"Grandpa?" Chisame cried frantically, running into the main studio as Matoi slowed a bit more, frowning. It was very quiet inside the studio; she could barely hear the siren at all. It was like the house was in its own little world. "Grandpa, where are you?"
As Matoi stood just inside the studio, frowning, she heard Eijiro's voice say, "Oh, Chiu-chan, I'll be down in a minute. I was just oiling the rollers for the backdrops." There was a briefly rattle of chains that managed to overwhelm the nearly silent sirens completely. "There we go, good as new. Huh, Chisame, did you put that one in here? I don't recognize it."
Matoi tilted her head. The siren was completely gone. The light coming in through the windows seemed different too. Clearer and brighter somehow, like it was noon instead of almost dusk. Hesistantly, she turned around and opened the door.
There was no panic. There was no mayhem. It was a perfectly ordinary day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, perfectly ordinary people passed by doing perfectly ordinary things, a man running by clutching a purse was struck by a trashcan moving at high speed, a girl was playing with a stray black kitten…
"Chimsamehada, I think you'd better come see this," she called inside, crossing her arms, then paused. She looked down. "Why…" Matoi asked rhetorically as Chisame came rushing out of the studio, her confused grandfather in tow, "am I wearing a school uniform?" She fingered the green armband at her bicep.
"Come on Uiharu, we've got a call!"
"Ah, Kuroko-chan, please wait! I'm still buckling this thing on!"
"Oh honestly Uiharu, don't you know how to do it quickly yet?"
"S-sorry! Turn up!"
"Oh, you've got to be kidding me? Seriously, Jun? The kaicho picked you?"
"I know! Pretty cool, right? Here, wanna see how it works? Henshin!"
"Woah! That's AWESOME Jun-Jun!"
"… you're marking the carpet."
"Meh, you're so boring Ayana…"
"Behold! The latest invention of Kurokami Laboratories!"
"Seriously Medaka-chan? We're doing this?"
"But of course! We're not going to let those other upstarts get the drop on us!"
"I don't know… it seems uncomfortable to wear…"
"What makes you think you'll be wearing it? We need someone more physically average to prove it's functionality, and you've received too much training to count."
"Nice to know Devil Style is still working…"
"Nice beetle Hakase…"
"I like the shiny red color…"
- To be continued...
A/N: Next up! World of Lesbian Railgun Box!
Blame Zettai Hero Project and the weird amalgamation of watching 199 Heroes, Super Hero Taisen, and the All Riders Versus Dai-Shocker movie in rapid succession…
This plays VERY fast and loose with Kamen Rider canons, even more than Decade did. What did you expect, I'm not Hatte Saburo after all… still, I hope you like my upcoming conceptual interpretations and general mucking about.
Please review, C&C welcome.
Until next time, this is Shadow, signing off.