I had the same dream again, my friends’ corpses accusing me of failing them, Richard’s hand making contact and decaying me, and the dream ending when the decay reaches my jaw. I woke up again. This is absurd, I thought talking to Gandalf would help! I did my usual dress routine and headed to the gateway. I saw Gandalf and Wyldstyle talking to each other over tea. Gandalf was talking about the time a friend of his, Radagast the Brown, outran a pack of Orcs on dog-like creatures called Wargs while Radagast was on a sled pulled by rabbits. “I had never known Rhosgobel Rabbits to outrun Gundabad Wargs!” laughed Gandalf. “In hindsight, it was rather funny!”
“This was the guy that lived in a crooked house?” asked Wyldstyle in a tone asking for confirmation.
“Well, he’s odd, I grant you,” admitted Gandalf. “He’s led a solitary life.”
“I hate to interrupt,” I called, surprising the two, “but sleep won’t come to me. I had a horrible dream.”
“Was it a dream where our corpses were accusing you of failing us and Richard grabbing you and infecting you with decay, but the dream ends with the decay reaching your eyes before you wake up?” asked Wyldstyle. I arched an eyebrow.
“Yes, except change that to the decay reaching my jaw,” I replied.
“I woke up when the decay reached your neck,” answered Gandalf. Okay, this can NOT be coincidence.
“Was that true when your corpses were accusing me of failing you?” I asked.
“Not remotely,” assured Gandalf.
“You haven’t failed us by any stretch,” confirmed Wyldstyle.
“Well, there’s that bit of ammo if I dream that dream again,” I mused. “May I join you? I don’t think there’ll be sleep for me tonight.”
“Go ahead,” invited Wyldstyle. I sat down and poured some tea as we sat on the gateway pad.
“So,” I began, “I know of Batman and Hongo-san’s backstories when they couldn’t sleep…”
“Why do you say Hongo-san?” asked Gandalf.
“San is an honorific like the English Mr. or Mrs.,” I explained. Gandalf understood. “In any case, why don’t you tell us your tale? What made you use magic?”
“Actually,” began Gandalf, “I’ve had magic my entire life. I am a Maia spirit, the plural of which being Maiar, sent to Middle-Earth, by the Valar of Valinor, to keep watch over the free peoples that live there and aid them where possible against Sauron, a fallen Maia. We were an order of five called the Istari. Although Sauron’s power was great, the Valar had already seen the tragic consequences of direct interference at the end of the First Age when they brought their total strength against Morgoth, known also by his first name as Melkor and as Sauron’s former master, resulting in the destruction of a country touching the sea called Beleriand and reshaping the world. The Valar also knew of the corruption and lust for power from even the Maiar’s use of magic as evidenced by Sauron. So, the Valar sent us, the Istari, to help Middle-Earth, but were forbidden from using our full power or attacking Sauron directly. Thus, we take the form of old men so we could speak to both elves and Men as equals to win their trust. Our leader was known as Curumo and was sent by a Vala known as Aulë. He was a wise and respected figure in Middle-Earth and was declared the leader of the White Council, a group of Elves and Wizards to combat the threat of Sauron. I was called Olórin in my younger days and was sent by my teachers Manwë, Varda, Nienna, and Irmo. I had originally considered myself too weak and frightened to be of any use in the fight against Sauron, but my teacher saw potential in me and ordered me to go. There was one that was originally not considered to go with the Istari, but joined us at the insistence of his teacher, Yavanna. He was known as Aiwendil, but later called himself Radagast the Brown. He spends his days looking after the plants and animals of Middle-Earth. The last two were a pair of blue wizards called Alatar and Pallando. Only Alatar was asked to go, but his friendship with Pallando allowed them both to go and renaming themselves Morinehtar and Rómestámo. I believe they were responsible for starting a magic cult or two in Middle-Earth.” Gandalf lit his pipe while Wyldstyle and I processed the info.
“That’s…quite a lot,” I gulped. “I wish I had met Curumo. He sounds like a nice guy.”
“He was,” answered Gandalf, “but power corrupted him. You’ve already met him, but he called himself something else.” He faced us. “He rode atop a giant snake in the previous dimension we were in.”
“Saruman?!” I yelped. “Never mind.” I turned to Wyldstyle. “What about you? What’s your story?”
“Not really as elaborate as Gandalf’s,” replied Wyldstyle. “I was 9 when things went sour for Master Builders. I said to my mom that I could see numbers and had an urge to build every single day. The robot Mom had bought heard that and tried to take me to jail when Mom intervened. My dad, an alcoholic, had left us, so we couldn’t depend on him to help us. Mom told me to run. I hesitated, but Mom ordered me to run again and I did. The robots surrounding my home leveled it and took my mom to jail. From what I heard, she never told Lord Business what happened to me and so suffered. I don’t know how. I suffered from insecurity and changed my name a lot. A man named Vitruvius helped me master my Master Builder powers and helped me start the resistance movement against Lord Business. From there, I discovered Emmet, dragged him along for the ride when he found the Piece of Resistance, and helped him discover his Master Builder powers to fight Lord Business and stop his Kragle plan.”
“Kragle?” asked Gandalf.
“A substance that freezes you in place,” I explained.
“Interesting backstories,” rasped a voice. We jumped to see Batman standing with the rest of our group.
“How long have you guys been there?” I asked.
“Long enough,” replied Hongo.
“Is it morning already?” quizzed Gandalf.
“It would appear so,” I replied. “Breakfast, everyone?” They all agreed. We had pancakes this time. After breakfast, we mounted our vehicles. “All set?” I asked. Everyone confirmed. “CHARGE!” I shouted. The portal opened and we all went through.
We travelled through the vortex a bit. A bit longer…longer……longer……… “Shouldn’t we have arrived by now?!” asked Wyldstyle.
“Yes,” answered Batman. “Something’s up.”
“Wyldstyle, check your relic scanner,” I said. Wyldstyle pulled out the scanner and took a reading.
“Uh, not good!” she gulped. Our hearts sank.
“So, what do we do?” asked Gandalf.
“Well, I suggest you mind your heads!” called a voice with a Scottish accent. That’s when something whizzed over our heads. What was it? You’re not gonna believe this, but it was a blue box. I kid you not! It read “Police Public Call Box” on the top on all four sides, had a light on the top, which was blinking in rhythm to the noise it made. At best, I could say the noise was a Vworp or a whoosh. The box had two windows on each side, with the front having two signs. One of them read “Police Telephone. Free for Use of Public. Advice and Assistance Obtainable Immediately. Officers and Cars Respond to Urgent Calls. Pull to Open,” and was square shaped while the circle sign read “St John Ambulance.” While the doors told the person outside to pull to open, judging by the way the doors were pulled open from the inside, I’d say the outside person had to push to open. The person was an old man with short, wavy hair, the fiercest expression I’ve ever seen, eyebrows that could tell stories without a mouth, and a set of navy blue clothes with black clothes. “Hold on a sec!” called the man. He shut the doors and we heard his voice from the box. “Not that you have a choice in the matter. You’re stuck in a rift loop!” The box matched our speed but stayed ahead of us. The doors opened again and the man fired a grapple gun, specifically Batman’s! “Grab on!” encouraged the man. Was he gonna pull all 20 of us into that tiny box?!
“There’s no room!” I shouted.
“Oh yes, there is!” cheered Michael as he grabbed the line. I saw that and thought him mad!
“Are you out of your mind?!” I shouted.
“Just trust me!” called Michael. “We’re about to go on an adventure through time and space!” I blinked. Off his rocker, but I grabbed on and ordered everyone to do the same. Our horses grabbed on with their mouths, Hongo passed the line through the spokes of his bike and Batman hooked the end of the line to the Batmobile’s front. We were all pulled inside. When I got my bearings, I couldn’t believe what was inside! You would think that being a small box, it would have a small inside! What I saw was some sort of large interior with a set of panels done in a hexagonal shape with a central cylinder going up to the ceiling and some sort of mechanism going up and down inside!
“Er, what happened to three-dimensional Euclidian geometry?!” yelped Lukas.
“The Time Lords tore it up, threw it in the air, and snogged it to death!” cheered Michael. “Thus, a human’s entire understanding of physical space is transformed by Time Lord transportation! Our grasp of the universal constants of physical reality is now changed…forever!”
“Okay, you’re impressed by my home, thank you!” snapped the man in a dismissive tone. “Come on! Don’t just sit there! You’ve got a bunch of monsters to meet!”
“Who are you?” demanded Batman. “What did you do to us?”
“Is he always like this, Megumi?” asked the man. Wait, what?! “I assumed I just caught him at a bad time before.”
“Uh, what?!” stammered Wyldstyle. The man took the relic scanner and waved some sort of wand with a green light on the end over the thing. He put the wand away, earning a groan of disappointment from Michael.
“I’m the Doctor,” introduced the man. “I locked on to your scanner. Remember that.”
“Before?” I asked.
“You said before,” observed Batman.
“Is this some sort of time mess?” asked Hongo. “There IS a Kamen Rider that can help in that regard.”
“Well spotted, Batman, Megumi, and Hongo. Go to the head of the class!” commented the Doctor. “This is the TARDIS.”
“Short for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space!” cheered Michael. The Doctor blinked, then continued.
“It travels in time,” he went on. “We’ve met you lot before, but you haven’t met us yet. That’s time travel for you.” While the Doctor was explaining, Gandalf touched a panel, got a shock, briefly turning him into Gandalf the White, before he returned to being grey.
“You’re lying!” accused Batman.
“No, here’s your grapple gun,” explained the Doctor as he tossed the instrument to Batman.
“Clearly a copy,” dismissed Batman as he pulled out his own grapple gun.
“Again, no,” hissed the Doctor, a little irritated. “Like I say, time machine! Not a 3-D printer! Just give me your grapple gun later.”
“Doctor,” I said, “you said ‘We’ve met you before’ as if there’s another person.”
“Doctor, can I release the button now?” asked a voice. It came from a Japanese man in a teacher’s suit. He had a pompadour hairstyle, not usual to anyone from Japan. Hiroki arched an eyebrow.
“Kisaragi Gentarō?” he quizzed in Japanese name order. “What are you doing here?”
“The Doctor said I was needed to help some people,” explained Gentarō. “He said that holding this button down would help the TARDIS get into the rift loop you guys were stuck in, otherwise the harmonics core would implode.”
“That was an act,” muttered the Doctor. “There’s no such thing as a harmonics core, at least, not yet. You said you couldn’t understand gobbledygook, so I had you do something to keep you occupied.”
“You could have said for me to not touch anything!” protested Gentarō as he released the button.
“Given what Kengo said about you,” argued the Doctor, “I couldn’t take any chances, even after you told me not to listen to him. Pretty feeble attempt to change history. You’ve only ensured that events in your timeline will happen.”
“But…I never did that…” muttered Gentarō.
“Again, time travel,” said the Doctor as he tossed a device to Gentarō. The device had four slots in different shapes, had red tab switches under the slots, and had a handle on the right side. Gentarō’s eyes went wide.
“But…this thing was destroyed!” he yelped. “I threw it into molten steel!”
“You gave it to me earlier, after I first met you,” explained the Doctor.
“Where did my future self get it?” asked Gentarō.
“He just got it when you caught it,” commented the Doctor.
“Ah, a causal loop!” called Michael. The Doctor got up from the console.
“So, you know about the bootstrap paradox?” he asked. “Go ahead, share it with the class.”
“With pleasure!” cheered Michael as he grabbed a chalkboard and a piece of chalk. He drew a stick figure and made a curved line downwards and writes 1700’s. “So, the situation is this: a time traveler that loves Johann Sebastian Bach decides to meet his musical hero and so goes to the point when Toccata and Fugue is first composed. When he asks around, he realizes that there’s no one by the name of Bach.
“The time traveler is distraught and decides to copy the music FOR Bach. History goes on with barely a quiver. He returns to his time,” he draws another curved line going up back to the stick figure, “and is left with a conundrum. Someone is going to be inspired enough to travel back in time to hear Toccata and Fugue but will be distraught and so copy down all of Bach’s music.” He picked up an electric guitar.
“So, where did Toccata and Fugue come from?” he asked. He strummed the opening notes of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. “This is an example of a causal loop, or bootstrap paradox, named after Heinlein’s book, By his Bootstraps which demonstrates this rather well in terms of a book. The time traveler is inspired by the music and ends up ‘writing’ the music.
“In effect, the time traveler inspired himself. He copied ‘Bach’, who copied the time traveler, who copied ‘Bach’, who copied the time traveler, and so on and so forth ad infinitum, without a beginning.” Emily raised her hand and Michael pointed to her.
“Won’t that mean that the results fade, in this instance, the music?” asked Emily.
“Not at all,” explained Michael. “Aristotle once said that you don’t have to prove ‘immediate knowledge’, so Bach’s Toccata and Fugue must have been written in order to exist. As demonstrated by this figure here,” he pointed to the drawing, “the reason that the music exists is why the traveler went on this journey. To him, it’s a straight line. To time, on the other hand, he went in a circle.
“Now, of course, a bootstrap paradox is not particularly useful, it simply IS. We’ve side stepped the question of ‘who wrote the music?’ by rendering the concept of beginnings moot. We are given a totally different sort of answer, which is the same as not answering.
“Such an answer makes me miss my companions of old,” mused the Doctor. “It holds together, but it’s also infuriating.” I raised my hand and Michael called on me.
“I hate to muddy the waters,” I asked, “but what about alternate timelines?”
“Essentially, the theory goes,” explained our teacher, Michael, “that there MUST have been a sequence of events in which Bach, or some other third party, let’s not make this more complicated than it is, wrote the music. However, that timeline was derailed by something that didn’t happen in the original history of events and so the time traveler is forced to intervene. So, what changed in the original timeline?
“Maybe the arrival of the time traveler himself? Perhaps Bach was too busy throwing his wig at the Doctor when he tried to explain the bootstrap paradox to the composer. Maybe meeting a fanboy put him off music all together. Whatever the reason, the time traveler must intervene.
“But, what happens in the new timeline, when someone decides to meet his hero, Bach? And in the timeline that follows that one? And so on and so forth? Time changes from a line stretching to infinity to a branching tree stretching to infinity.” Richard raised his hand and was called on.
“Doesn’t that imply that the theory begins with the assumption of an original composer and that composer is Bach?” asked Richard.
“Yes indeed,” confirmed Michael. “Which is what we’re trying to prove. The Greeks call it ‘begging the question’.”
“They can call it what they like,” exclaimed Gentarō as he rubbed his head, “I’m calling it a massive headache!”
“So, class,” asked Michael, “what did we learn?”
“Paradoxes, in general, can keep someone awake,” I muttered.
“Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is an awesome tune,” said Emily.
“Time travel and logic are not friends,” commented Lukas.
“To use my words,” supplied the Doctor, “it’s all wibbly wobbly, timey wimey, stuff.”
“Well, whatever happened,” mused Gentarō, “I’m glad my old friend, the Fourze Driver, came back for now.”
“Fourze Driver?” I asked. “Are you a Kamen Rider?”
“I sure am!” cheered Gentarō. “I’m the Rider who will befriend everyone I meet!”
“That may prove challenging if you meet people that hate me,” remarked the Doctor. The TARDIS’ noises became louder until I heard a thud. “Ah, we’ve landed. Okay, out you go.” We were shoved out of the TARDIS. We had landed in a control room of some sorts. Batman looked out the window to see a probe float by.
“Where are we?” he asked.
“Does it matter?” replied the Doctor. “Call it, I don’t know, ‘Dave’!” Batman shook his head as the Doctor handed a piece of paper to Wyldstyle. “This is my phone number, you’ll call it when you get into trouble and I’ll help you out. I’m nice like that.” Wyldstyle felt creeped out when the Doctor winked.
“Aren’t you coming with us?” asked Gentarō.
“Look, normally I’d come along with you,” explained the Doctor, “but if I cross my own time-stream here, it’ll rip a hole in the universe so big you could drive his ego through it.” He pointed to Batman who snarled at that comment. “Anyway, good luck.” He scurried into the TARDIS and took off by fading away with what Michael called a Vworp. I checked over my team and saw Gandalf just staring at where the TARDIS was. Poor guy, he was out of his element. The wizard blinked a few times before speaking.
“Can someone explain to me what’s going on, please?” he had asked. Wyldstyle’s scanner started blinking.
“Not really, no,” she replied, “but, I think another Keystone’s here.” I yelped.
“I forgot to ask who controls the Elemental Keystone!” I cried.
“Be at peace, my lady,” assured Gandalf as he held up his left hand as it wore a Keystone Gauntlet. “Wyldstyle helped me puzzle this thing out.” Judging by his expression, I’d say Gandalf had found some familiar ground to work with.
“Guys,” called Emily, “the transmitter’s in that tube.”
“Blast,” hissed Gandalf. “It’s blocking out the Keystone. I cannot use it.”
“And there’s ice everywhere,” muttered Hiroki as he shivered. “Some of it is blocking out a grapple hook.”
“We’ll have to get the transmitter out,” declared Batman. Gandalf looked around.
“This place is unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen,” he mused. “Let us hurry and find the Keystone.”
“Search for the controls to open the tube,” I said. We started looking around, but most of the controls were dead. I heard something metal falling. It turned out to be Wyldstyle and Hongo bringing a ladder down. “Let’s hope any controls up there will prove functional,” I said.
“Maybe we don’t need to use buttons,” observed Wyldstyle. She pointed to a piece of machinery on top of the transmitter’s prison that could be knocked loose.
“I think one batarang should do it,” rasped Batman. He threw one and it knocked the tube open, allowing the transmitter to be blown out.
“Allow me to handle this,” called Gandalf. “Elemental Keystone, activate!” He was surrounded in a light that shifted from blue, to cyan, to red, to green, to blue again, and so on. “Let’s see,” muttered Gandalf, “let’s have you try fire on the ice, Sir Richard. Element of fire, Richard!” Richard was surrounded in a red light.
“Now this is interesting,” he chuckled. He then summoned a fireball. When his face lit up, he put his hands together and fired a torrent of flames at the ice, melting it quickly. The ice exposed the grapple hook and wires that needed to be connected. Richard grabbed his i.d tag while I grabbed mine.
“Henshin!” we announced. After the transformation sequence, Gentarō gawked.
“You guys are Kamen Riders?!” he gawked.
“We sure are!” confirmed Guard. He then swapped out his i.d tag for the Batman one.
“Batman Steel!” announced his belt. I swapped mine out for the Gandalf one.
“Gandalf Steel!” called my belt. As we settled into our new armor, Batman and Guard got the grapple hook to come loose while Gandalf and I got the wires connected. Batman and Guard’s part caught fire while Gandalf and I had no mishap.
“Element of water, Batman!” announced Gandalf. A blue aura surrounded Batman. He summoned a water ball, then put his hands together and doused the flames. Wyldstyle took the pieces and made an electrical coil. “Hm,” mused Gandalf, “most of us are used to a Keystone’s power except Gentarō. Would you like to try?”
“Sure!” confirmed Gentarō. “Since I don’t have my switches on me now, I’ll go with the Keystone, whatever it is.”
“Element of lightning, Gentarō!” announced Gandalf. Gentarō was surrounded by a cyan aura, generated lightning from his fingers, and zapped the coil.
“Elec on,” he joked. The door opened and revealed a humanoid, silver creature walking towards us with an arm outstretched. It had silver handles going up from where ears would be to the top of the head, a slight “tear-drop” design to the holes that work as eyes, and a blue light in the center. Iron Man should sue. It stomped forward for a bit, then slowed down, then fell. I cancelled my transformation to roll him over. The light in the chest had gone out.
“Well,” I jested, “low batteries?”
“We should move,” gulped Michael, looking a little scared. I arched an eyebrow but got everyone to move. We arrived in a room that had a hidden alcove in the wall, frozen over. A Keystone transmitter was being guarded and I could see security cameras around that area. Richard was still in Batman Steel, so he turned invisible and headed to the transmitter. He managed to lower the guard and turn off the cameras.
“Elemental Keystone, activate!” announced Gandalf. “Element of fire, Gentarō!”
“Fire on!” called Gentarō. I had no idea why he was doing that, but, oh well. He melted the ice on the alcove doors. It seemed to be missing a design.
“Hey, this image looks like that space man robot we saw!” observed Wyldstyle. “It looks incomplete, though. Maybe completing it is the key.”
“I think I can help in that regard,” replied Gandalf as he used his magic to complete the image. The alcove opened to deposit machinery at our feet. I heard stomping and saw one of the strange robots fire at some debris blocking the way with a concealed laser weapon, then stomping back to a window. Wyldstyle saw some cables on the ground and got an idea.
“Loose cables everywhere?” she muttered. “If we can create a generator, we can power up the base.”
“If this isn’t their base,” gulped Michael, indicating the robots.
“What are you so afraid of?” I asked as we helped Wyldstyle gather materials. “They’re robots. We can take them if they’re hostile!”
“If they were just robots,” replied Michael, “I wouldn’t be so worried.”
“Element of water, Gandalf!” announced Gandalf. He was surrounded in a blue aura and doused the fire on the stairway the robot shot at. He climbed up with Wyldstyle as she opened the windows to reveal a barren, star studded landscape. The surface almost looked lunar. There was a probe next to a platform. Gandalf was about to go outside when I told him that that area had no air. There were areas with an atmosphere, according to the computer terminals I had read, but the area we could immediately see was not one of them. Gandalf had then used his magic to move the probe onto the platform, which moved on tracks to bring the probe inside. Wyldstyle needed it near the alcove, so Gandalf had a solution. “Element of lightning, Richard!” Richard was surrounded by a cyan aura and moved towards an electric coil to bring the probe down. We cannibalized the parts to make a generator and two backups with the cables used to send power.
“Job done,” called Batman. “Now, let’s power this place up!” He flicked a switch on the main generator. An unearthly hum indicated that it was working but needed a little more juice. I saw an electric coil in the alcove and requested the use of lightning from Gandalf.
“Element of lightning, Megumi!” announced Gandalf. I felt a buzz as the cyan aura flowed over me. I fired a lightning bolt at the coil. It fell off a giant version of the full torso unit of those robots. Arms were attached by machines and legs came up from panels in the floor. They attached to the hips. A light in the center came on, showing blue. Again, Stark, sue! A giant head with the same teardrop eyes, single mouth slit, and handles from the ears to the scalp came crawling in on cables that held it up. The cables buried themselves into the neck, completing a giant version of those robots we saw. The eyes and mouth flashed orange and the eyes stayed on. The mouth switched off and only turned on when it spoke in a robotic monotone.
“Upgrade complete,” it boomed. It turned down to look at us. “Organic lifeforms detected,” it observed. The robots then stopped stumbling. They straightened themselves so that the chests were held high and the arms were out, poised and ready for action at a moment’s notice. The feet were shoulder width apart and they stomped with the left foot leading and the knees bending at a 45-degree angle. They marched with purpose until they took their positions. Two of them flanked the doors of the alcove. Two of them guarded a door to a hallway above the alcove. One of them was at an airlock leading to the outside where the probe was. There were two at the door we came through to get here and one at each of the five computer terminals. Two of the robots at the terminals had black handles. The two flanking the giant’s alcove had…an organic brain?! Are these guys just brains in humanoid jars!?
“Hey, check this out!” called Gentarō. He pointed to a tube that suspended 40 switches. A robot at a computer terminal with black handles flicked a switch and opened the tube. The switches were deposited into a black box with an image of their head on it.
“These devices are called Astro-switches,” reported the robot to the giant. “They harness an unknown energy called Cosmic Energy to summon equipment. We can manufacture such a device.”
“Excellent, Cyber-Leader 449,” praised the giant. “And what of the final experiment on the new rebreathers?”
“It is initiating now,” replied the robot that reported, Cyber-Leader 449. At that point, I saw two astronauts stomp outside. What were they doing? They started undoing the locks to their helmets while in an airless environment! I rushed for the airlock, but the robot guarding it stopped me. All Vortex Riders rushed for the airlock but were halted as two robots fired a warning shot.
“Now look,” I hissed to the robot that stopped me, “I don’t know what you’re planning, but those people need to get inside!”
“They will not return inside,” boomed the giant. We all asked various versions of the phrase “why not?” “They are performing the final test for new rebreathers so we can breathe in any environment, even in the vacuum of space,” replied the giant.
“But we have to get them in!” I insisted. I tried to get around the airlock’s guard, but it grabbed my shoulder. They’ve got quite the grip.
“There is really no point,” droned the airlock guard. “The doors will not open until the test is complete.”
“But, don’t you care about those people?!” I shouted.
“‘Care’? No,” replied the giant. “Why should we ‘care’?”
“Because they’re people!” Hongo shouted, “and they’re going to die!”
“I do not understand,” quizzed the giant. “There are people dying all over the universe, yet you do not ‘care’ for them.”
“Test complete,” reported the second Cyber-Leader. We turned to the window to see the astronauts with their helmets off. They had the handles of these robots.
“Bring them inside,” boomed the giant. The airlock guard then released me, turned to the keypad, typed a code at a very fast pace, and opened the outer door. The astronauts marched like the robots into the airlock. The doors then shut to let the inner doors open. They marched inside.
“Upgrade successful,” reported one of the astronauts to the giant.
“Report for complete conversion,” ordered the giant. The astronauts marched to another room. I tried to stop them, but the airlock guard held me back. “You are wondering where you are,” observed the giant. “From the fragments of security footage our cameras picked up, you were left here by the Time Lord known as the Doctor and he did not tell you where you are, is that so?”
“Yes,” I hissed, not even bothering to disguise the newfound contempt I had for these creatures.
“You are one of many fragments of our ancestral home world,” replied the giant. “It is called…”
“Ancestral home-world?” interrupted Michael. “You mean Mondas?!”
“Correct,” confirmed the giant. “You were under the impression that Mondas had vaporized?”
“Yes, that’s what the UNIT files left by the Doctor said,” lied Michael. Good thing he didn’t reveal we were from a different dimension.
“The Doctor is incorrect,” replied the giant. “Mondas simply exploded.”
“What was Mondas like before you came to power?” I asked.
“Eons ago, Mondas was Earth’s twin planet,” relayed the giant. “But the arrival of a new celestial object that became Earth’s moon interfered with the orbit, thus making us drift to the far reaches of space. We had returned to Earth’s orbit to drain its energy, but that was when the Doctor first interfered, thus making our planet explode. Now, we are gathering the fragments of our home and using artificial materials to make a new world. We are 45% completed but will require more fragments to complete the equator and southern hemisphere. If needed, we will extract parts of Earth and take its population to increase our numbers. However, another race is interfering and will stop at nothing to destroy us. We had met a version of our kind from another universe where they came from Earth to become the next level of humanity. They had crossed into our universe and we upgraded each other to take the shape you see before you. That has doubled our efforts, but the work still goes slowly.”
“That still doesn’t answer who or what you are!” cried Sheela.
“They’re called the Cybermen,” explained Michael.
“Cybermen?” I asked.
“Correct,” confirmed the giant Cyberman. “I am one of currently 16 Cyber-Kings. We answer to the Cyber-Planner. These Cyber-Controllers,” he indicated the Cybermen with exposed brains, “answer to me as other Cyber-Controllers answer to the other Cyber-Kings. The Cyber-Leaders answer to the Cyber-Controllers. The Cyber-Deputies answer to the Cyber-Leaders. The rest answer to the Cyber-Deputies. We were like you once, but our scientists realized that our race was getting weak.”
“Weak? How?” asked Gentarō.
“Our life span was getting shorter,” elaborated the Cyber-King. “So, our scientists and doctors created spare parts for us until we could be almost completely replaced.”
“But…that means you’re not even like me!” shouted Hongo. “You’re practically robots!”
“We are cyborgs like yourself,” argued the Cyber-Kings. He must have taken a scan of us. “We just do not have genetic modification. As the Cyber-Controllers can clearly show you, our brains are like yours, except certain weaknesses have been removed.”
“What weaknesses?” asked Irina.
“You don’t consider emotions a weakness, do you?” Mikhail quizzed.
“Emotions are a weakness that must be removed,” replied the Cyber-King. “We are doing organic life a favor by doing so.”
“That’s awful!” I shouted. “You mean, you wouldn’t care if someone was in pain?!”
“There would be no need,” answered the Cyber-King. “We do not feel pain.”
“We do!” I yelled.
“That will be changed when you are converted,” boomed the Cyber-King. “You will become like us.” That concluded negotiations as I grabbed a pole and drove it into the head of a Cyber-Controller. It fell with a loud death rattle.
“Judging by her actions,” said Batman, “I don’t think so.”
“Hostility detected,” answered the Cyber-King. “Failure to comply with upgrading is not an option.”
“It is for us!” called Gentarō as he put the Fourze Driver to his waist. It formed a belt strap on its own. Gentarō then split the case in half and attached each half to the sides of his belt. He pulled out four Astro-switches. They were of different colors and numbers. Number 1 was orange, number 2 was blue, number 3 was yellow, and number 4 was black. Gentarō inserted the switches right to left from 1 to 4 as the belt announced what the switches were.
“Rocket! Launcher! Drill! Radar!” announced the Driver. He then flicked the tab switches down. Hongo struck his initial henshin pose as we got out our i.d tags. “3! 2! 1!” said an electronic countdown from Gentarō’s belt. While that went on, he struck a pose that had his left foot forward, his left hand across his front, and his right hand on the handle.
“Rider…!” began Hongo.
“Henshin!” we all shouted We all transformed and got ready for battle. Gentarō’s Rider form looked like it was made from the material needed for an astronaut’s suit and had a conical helmet with a black diamond in the middle with orange insect eyes and a pair of small antennae. He had gauntlets around his wrists and ankles. The right arm had an orange circle on its gauntlet, the right leg had a blue X shape on its gauntlet, the left leg had a yellow triangle on its gauntlet, and the left arm had a black square on its gauntlet. He looked almost like a space shuttle. Gentarō crouched down.
“Uchū…” he began before popping back up and spreading his limbs out, “KITĀĀĀĀĀ!” (Space is here!)
“Fourze kitā!” (Fourze is here!) cheered Sengoku.
“Fourze?” I asked. I turned to the new Rider. “That’s your Rider name? Fourze?”
“That’s right!” confirmed Fourze. He turned to the Cyber-King “Kamen Rider Fourze! Taiman harasete morau ze!” (Let’s settle this man-to-man!)
“You will not escape,” boomed The Cyber-King as more Cybermen entered the room. “We knew that somebody like you would come here. Now you must be upgraded.” We started attacking the Cybermen, but they anticipated our moves. I then decided to slap my Cyberman. It titled its head as if it were trying to process what I was trying to accomplish.
“There is no logic in your actions,” it observed. “We can introduce that into your brain when you are upgraded.”
“Oh, but there IS logic to that slap,” I argued. I held up the new i.d tag. “Check this out!” I did the i.d swap and summoned the wardrobe.
“Cyberman Steel!” announced my belt. Apropos, given what it was made of. The new armor had the handles of the Cyberman’s head. I had the blaster out and had the boots on as well as the chest unit. Tony, I take it back, don’t sue! I fired on my Cyberman right in the chest unit.
“Cyberman firepower is being used against us!” reported a Cyber-Leader. “Unable to upgrade!” The rest of my people go the idea and activated their own Cyberman Steel. That was the final straw as the number of Cybermen went down.
“They are incompatible!” boomed the Cyber-King. “Delete! Delete! Delete!”
“What does that mean?!” quizzed Fourze.
“It means they’re going to kill us instead of upgrade us!” yelped Battle.
“You know,” mused Fourze, “I think I have an idea!” He took out the Rocket and Radar switches and took a cellphone out with a red front with an N and a blue bottom with an S. Both ends had a switch on each end. Fourze opened the phone and split it in half. He inserted the red switch into the right arm slot.
“N Magnet!” announced the belt. Fourze then put the blue end into the left arm slot. “S Magnet!” He then pressed a button on the switches where the phone halves were. “N/S! Magnet on!” called the belt. Machinery appeared, resting on Fourze’s shoulders. It had a twin barreled gun on the back and a helmet that went over the head with Fourze’s antennae and eyes on it.
“Fourze, Magnet states!” announced Fourze. He grabbed the phone halves and pressed concealed buttons on them, firing magnetic bursts at the Cybermen.
“Alert! Alert! Cannot upgrade! Cannot Upgrade!” cried a Cyberman.
“Let’s see,” muttered Fourze, “let’s have you guys on your king’s arm!” He moved the Cybermen and magnetized them to the left arm of the Cyber-King. The weight brought it down to our level. We soon used the strength of our Cyberman Steel and ripped the arm off.
“What is the meaning of this?!” boomed the Cyber-King. “Your species belongs to us! Your species will become like us!” More Cybermen marched in. “Delete! Delete! Hostiles will be deleted! Delete the rogue elements! Delete!”
“We get it!” called Fourze. “You want to kill us!”
“Those who are not compatible for upgrade will be deleted,” droned a Cyberman before Fourze tried the same trick again.
“You are incompatible! Delete! Delete!” boomed the Cyber-King.
“Would you just shut up!” I shouted as I touched Fourze, gaining his i.d tag and swapping it out with the one I was using. I selected the magnet states.
“Fourze Magnet States Steel!” announced my belt.
“N/S Magnet on!” called the voice of Fourze’s belt. I had gained the same magnetic shooter backpack and almost fell over.
“How do you walk around in this thing?!” I yelped.
“It’s meant to be stationary,” explained Fourze. I then regained balance and helped Fourze as I mimed pulling the triggers on the handles. We sent the Cybermen onto the Cyber-King’s remaining arm. We then tore that thing apart!
“NO!” it defied. “You will perish under maximum deletion!” It started sparking. “Upgrade process is…FAILING?! What have you done?! This is not possible! The Cybermen are superior! We are the Cybermen, and you are inferior!”
“We have it on the ropes!” I called.
“Allow me!” replied Fourze. He pulled the handle on the side of his belt. Three klaxon alarms sounded.
“Limit Break!” announced the belt.
“Rider Super Electromagnetic Bomber!” shouted Fourze. He flipped the cover off the red phone half and pressed the button. The guns on the back came off and united in front of him in the shape of a u-shaped magnet. The new weapon fired as a railgun would and destroyed the torso and legs. All that was left was the head. It removed itself from the remains and scurried up the stairs into the hallway above its alcove. The vortex riders returned to their original form, while Fourze returned to Gentarō. We pursued it with Cybermen coming out of the walls, literally! The Cyber-King’s entered a room then shut the door as it entered a hallway. We couldn’t near enough to the keypad as the Cybermen swarmed us. We were starting to tire out!
“Anyone have a plan?!” I asked. Then I noticed one of the enemy’s numbers waved at us. “What the?” A Cyberman caught it.
“Explain your actions,” it quizzed. “It does nothing to delete these rogue elements.”
“What, myself included?” it asked in a synthesized man’s voice. Wait, what?!
“What is the meaning of this?!” asked a Cyber-Leader.
“Sorry, old chaps,” replied the rogue Cyberman, “but these people must pursue the Cyber-King.” It then fired on the rest of the Cybermen!
“Rogue unit detected!” reported the Cyber-Leader. “Delete! Delete!”
“Quickly!” called the rogue Cyberman as it opened the door. “Through here!” We entered the door with the Cyberman behind us. We escaped and got out into an area with air. We released our transformations and started catching our breath. This dimension had a lot of running involved.