Dear Lord, the courtyard on the cliff was in utter ruin. Fire peppered once green grass patches. Purple question marks were scrawled on statues. A troll snoozed in front of the Tower of Ecthelion. The White Tree was bare. Orcs and Worms were playing games. Some kneeled mockingly at us. “Sōji-san,” I gulped, “did your grandmother say anything about destruction?”
“She did say this,” replied Sōji. “Destruction is evil when used incorrectly. When used correctly, something beautiful emerges.”
“I rather think this is the former option,” mused Gandalf. Wyldstyle looked at some green graffiti.
“Riddle…me…this?” she read.
“Why, I’m only too happy to, little lady!” called the Riddler’s voice. “Well, I guess you DO deserve another go. So, riddle…me…this!” He then gave his riddles again.
The first is cast, but not a stone. It flees from light, the dark, its home.
The second breathes, dances, and bakes, yet has no lungs, legs, or cakes.
Third’s deep below, veiled from sight. It dwells where dwarves find their delight.
“It’s okay,” called Wyldstyle as she whipped out her phone. “I got this. The dark, my home…”
“Fräulein Wyldstyle, no!” wailed Lukas.
“Oh, come on, no signal?!” protested Wyldstyle as her phone beeped.
“Serves you right!” hissed Sheela.
“Cast…” muttered Gandalf. “…Flees from light…could it be a shadow?”
“Yeah,” agreed Batman. “And the third one sounds like a mine.”
“Dwarves work in mines?” asked Sōji.
“Middle-Earth Dwarves and Snow White’s Dwarves do,” I replied. Lukas got an idea.
“Wait, could the second one be fire?” he asked.
“He’s right,” muttered Sheela as she adjusted her gloves nervously. “Fire ‘breathes’ air and flames kind of dance.
“Shadow,” I mused.
“A mine,” pondered Wyldstyle.
“Fire,” muttered Gandalf. A horrible thought struck the wizard, then I remembered something and got the same idea.
“Wasn’t there a creature in a mine that was wreathed in shadow and flame?” I gulped.
“Ooh!” called a voice. Gollum then popped between Sheela and me. “We knows it! We knows it! Shut up!”
“Nobody said anything,” said a confused Batman.
“Wasn’t talking to you!” hissed Gollum. I pulled Sōji, Batman, Wyldstyle, and Hongo aside to explain Gollum’s condition.
“All that loneliness just for a piece of jewelry?” asked Sōji.
“You didn’t see the power the original owner had with said jewelry on,” I muttered, remembering Sauron in Metropolis.
“The Ring really IS a device of evil,” sighed Hongo, pitying Gollum.
“Moving on from that,” muttered Sōji. Rude! “you and Gandalf found the answers and connected them, what is it?”
“If I’m right,” I gulped, “Durin’s Bane is behind those doors.” Lukas and Sheela understood what I meant.
“A fallen Maiar spirit bound to the will of the first Dark Lord, Melkor, later called Morgoth,” gulped Lukas.
“Not that thing!” wailed Sheela.
“Hongo-san, you met this creature after pursuing Batman,” I reminded him. Hongo then remembered.
“You mean…” he gulped. The doors to the Tower burst open! The Troll and Gollum were sent flying! A bunny hopped out!
“…A bunny?” asked Wyldstyle.
“No, no, no!” I snapped. “Not the Killer Rabbit!”
“Ah, Monty Python,” sighed Sheela. That’s when the bunny hopped off to reveal the REAL danger. The creature burst through the doorway, destroying it. It was wreathed in shadow and flame, and the F.N.S met it before. The Riddler was sitting in a chair on its back.
“A Balrog of Morgoth!” called Gandalf.
“That thing again?” hissed Batman. “Didn’t it fall down a big hole?” That was when a metal thing tripped us up and flew into an Orc’s hand. It turned out to be a metal Praying Mantis.
“The Kiri Zecter,” explained the Orc. “Taken from the word Kamikiri, the Japanese word for Praying Mantis. A Zecter of Vortech’s design. Now, it belongs to me, Gorshagh” He then pointed the rear of his Zecter to his left. “Henshin!” He slid the Zecter into the belt, rear first.
“Henshin!” repeated the Kiri Zecter. The armor that appeared had arm cannons under the forearm, a triangular helmet, and triangular shoulder pads.
“Kamen Rider Kiri,” introduced Gorshagh. “Cast in the name of Darkness, ye guilty. The sentence,” he then slid his finger across his neck, “off with your heads!”
“Vortech won’t win this one!” declared Hongo as he got into his pose. We got out our i.d tags and Sōji’s Zecter flew into his hand. “Rider…” began Hongo.
“Henshin!” we all announced.
“Henshin!” repeated the Kabuto Zecter.
“Kamen Rider Kämpfer! Your defeat will be certain at my hands!”
“Kamen Rider Claw! My weapons shall turn you into ribbons!”
“Kamen Rider Royal! Evil will ultimately bow to me!”
“I am Gandalf the Grey! Prepare to see some fireworks!”
“I’m Wyldstyle! Time to think outside the box!”
“I’m Batman! The Dark Knight rises!”
“I am the start of a group of warriors! I am Kamen Rider!”
“Obaachan ga itteita, ten no michi o iki, subete o tsukasadoru otoko. Ore no na wa…Tendō…Sōji, Kamen Rider…Kabuto.”
“And I am the Riddler!” called Mr. Nigma. “Congratulations on solving my riddle! You’ve just won-first class tickets…to the afterlife!” The Balrog roared. “Oh, I hope you like my new pet! Watch out for his fiery temper!”
“This is no joke, Riddler!” warned Batman as he dodged the Balrog’s fist. “That thing is dangerous! Shift Keystone, activate! Cyan…”
“No, you don’t!” yelled Kiri. He moved his Zecter’s arms up, making the armor come off a little. “Cast Off!” He extended the arms and put them to the left of his belt strap.
“Cast Off!” repeated the Kiri Zecter. The armor flew off and hit us. Kabuto shielded his visor as the armor bounced off his. When we picked ourselves up, the slimmer form was bright green, the eyes were red, there were orbs for mantis eyes, and the gun barrels were handles for reverse grip swords on his forearms. “Change Mantis!” announced the Kiri Zecter.
“Clock Up!” called Kiri as he slapped the side of his belt.
“Clock Up!” repeated his Zecter.
“Not today! Cast Off!” shouted Kabuto as he swung the horn towards his right.
“Cast Off: Change Beetle!” announced the Zecter.
“Clock Up!” called Kabuto as he slapped the side of his belt.
“Clock Up!” repeated his Zecter. Both Riders vanished. I could guess what Kabuto’s doing now. Batman continued without interruption.
“Shift Keystone, activate!” he announced again. “Cyan, on the leftmost roof of the tower! Magenta, on the balcony below the roof! Yellow, near the base of the tower! Shift! Gandalf! Cyan!” Gandalf landed on the roof and started using his magic to throw things at the Balrog. The Balrog caught one, then another, and Gandalf was about to throw one more when…
“Hello, sweeties!” called a high-pitched voice. It was Discornia! She was underneath Gandalf!
“Batman!” yelped Kämpfer.
“Shift! Kämpfer! Magenta!” announced Batman. Kämpfer was taken to the balcony.
“Clock Over!” announced the voices of the Zecters. Kabuto and Kiri were still locked in combat. They were on the same balcony as Kämpfer and Discornia. While the two Zecter Riders were fighting, Discornia spoke to Kämpfer.
“You wouldn’t hit little, helpless me, would you?” she spoke in a disarming tone. I beamed her name and status over to Kämpfer.
“I don’t want to,” he sighed, “but I have no choice. I WILL defend myself.”
“Your gentleman credentials are at stake,” warned Discornia.
“I pray that I am forgiven for this,” muttered Kämpfer. He then went on the offensive. He swung his sword, but Discornia blocked with her staff. She then swung the staff with the disco balls on either end flashing. She started laughing, but Kämpfer scored a punch to her shoulder. She started rubbing it.
“You WOULD hit a lady!” she snapped. “In all seriousness, how are you still fighting?! My staff should have blinded you!”
“You forget that we liberated your fiancée,” reminded Kämpfer.
“That traitor!” hissed Discornia. “He told you about my staff and you updated the helmets with automatic light adjustments!”
“I only mentioned your future husband and you put two and two together,” mused Kämpfer, “you’re more clever than you let on.” Discornia then started fighting with the fury of a wild lemur. Kämpfer stayed on the defensive until he saw the slave chip on her shoulder. He then used a palm strike on her chin, knocking her off balance and slashed at the chip with his sword. It exploded and knocked her out. When it was confirmed she was alive, Kämpfer knelt and clasped his hands in prayer. “Almighty God,” he prayed, “please understand, I had no choice but to strike. My life was on the line. These were not normal circumstances. She was not herself and I had to get her out of the spell Vortech had used. I pray for your forgiveness even if I do not receive Discornia’s.” He then turned to Discornia. “Madame, I apologize for striking you, but I had no choice. I pray you can forgive me.” He then heard the Riddler cry out in pain.
“Hey, that hurt! A lot!” he whined as he got rubble off of the Balrog and himself. The Balrog then knocked Gandalf off the roof. Kabuto and Kiri fell, but continued their fight once they were on the ground. Gandalf used his magic to land safely, dodging the Balrog’s fists on the way down. Wyldstyle then managed to see something, specifically, Chroma Discs.
“Well,” she said, grinning, “what can you offer to beat the Balrog? Chroma Keystone, activate! Chroma Lock, reveal! Chroma! Red! Royal!” I jumped into the red paint and Wyldstyle directed me to the circle. “Chroma! Yellow! Gandalf!” A paint covered Gandalf was told to stand in the right L-shape. “Chroma! Blue! Ichigō!” Ichigō stood in the left L-shape. The Chroma Lock opened a door on the right side of the tower that unleashed the troops of Minas Tirith. They swarmed the Balrog and climbed to get to the Riddler. He screamed like a little girl!
“Get them off, get them off of me!” he shrieked. The Balrog shook the troops off.
“Well, it slowed him down,” I observed.
“I see a way to slow him down a little more!” called Ichigō. “Scale Keystone, activate! Lessen scale of Batman!” Batman shrunk and saw a vent for him to climb. He got in and went to the top. He then fired his grapple gun and undid the locks on some speakers. They started playing music.
Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you’re part of a team!
Everything is awesome when you’re living out a dream!
“WHAT IS THAT NOISE!?” shouted Kiri. He was on the ground, writhing in pain and holding his ears. His Zecter automatically ejected and he transformed back into Gorshagh.
“THIS IS TOO MUCH!” wailed Wyldstyle as she covered her ears. I was dancing along. “MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP!” said Wyldstyle. The Balrog listened to her and smashed the speakers.
“My ears!” cried the Riddler. “What was that horrible, HORRIBLE noise!?”
“Hey, I like that song!” I called.
“Grandmother said this,” waxed Kabuto. “Good music must never be interrupted. It leads to discontent.”
“Well, your grandmother wouldn’t know good music if it bit her in her rear!” snapped the Riddler.
“All right, just for that,” I called, “I’ll find something to teach you to insult a friend’s family! Locate Keystone, activate! Initiate rift detection!”
“No, you don’t!” roared Gorshagh. He grabbed the Kiri Zecter again and a device that had a big red button and a small lever on top. “Henshin!”
“Henshin!” repeated the Zecter. After the armor appeared, he moved the front legs again.
“Cast Off!” shouted Kiri.
“Cast Off: Change Mantis!” announced the Zecter as the armor flew.
“Is that a…Hyper Zecter?” asked Kabuto. “Funny, I have one too.” He then drew out the same device and attached it to the left of his belt, with the lever pointing up. “Hyper Cast Off!” called Kabuto. Kiri did the same.
“Hyper Cast Off!” announced Kiri. Both Riders pushed the lever down.
“Hyper Cast Off!” repeated the Hyper Zecters. Armor appeared on both Riders, giving them a slightly bulkier appearance.
“Change Hyper Beetle!” called Kabuto’s Zecter.
“Change Hyper Mantis!” announced Kiri’s Zecter.
“Hyper Clock Up!” shouted both Riders. They slapped the red buttons on their respective new Zecters.
“Hyper Clock Up!” repeated both Zecters. They both vanished.
“With that out of the way,” I muttered as I found the rift near the courtyard edge, “Identify source of rift!” The information beamed into my head. “I’ve…never heard of you,” I mumbled. Oh well. “Locate help from L-3-G-3-N-D-5-0-F-C-H-1-M-4!” I said. A caterpillar treaded tank with arms and a lion motif came into this universe. The pilot poked his head out. It was a male anthropomorphic lion in armor and a blue cape. He had a crown on his head and had a red mane. The poor guy looked confused.
“Where am I?!” he yelped. “Who are you?!” He heard the Balrog roar. He turned to see it prepare to swipe at him. “On second thought, I’ll find out later. It’s time for the Fire Lion to fire!” A missile array launched its arsenal at the Balrog. It knelt to the ground as the “Fire Lion” ran over it.
“What’s your name?!” I asked the pilot, then mentally chided myself for being rude.
“Laval, prince of the Lion Tribe,” introduced the lion. “You?”
“Megumi Hishikawa, Princess of the Feudal Nerd Society and leader of the Vortex Riders! Known throughout the multiverse as Kamen Rider Royal!” I replied
“Then I hope we meet again!” called Laval as a portal opened for him.
“Where’d THAT come from?!” wailed the Riddler. “You’re not playing fair!” The Balrog then went to the cliff part of the courtyard. “Enough play, it’s time for a classic showdown!”
“Get back here, Riddler!” shouted Batman as we pursued the Balrog.
“We need to douse the Balrog,” I realized. “Gandalf, if you please?”
“Elemental Keystone, activate!” called Gandalf. “Element of Water, Gandalf!” Gandalf then sprayed water on the Balrog. It then turned its back on us.
“He’s hurt himself! Keep it up!” encouraged Batman.
“Guys, there’s an electric coil on the back of the chair!” Wyldstyle pointed out.
“Element of lightning, Wyldstyle!” announced Gandalf. Wyldstyle made the chair overload. Apparently, that was a mind control device for the Balrog. It thrashed in pain. “Take that, servant of Morgoth!” said Gandalf. The Balrog then bucked the Riddler off as it fell over the cliff face and onto the buildings below. Gollum saw this.
“Good!” he hissed. Durin’s Bane was picked up while the Riddler kept a black stone to his chest. We advanced on the lunatic.
“Riddle me this,” asked Batman, “what drink hurts the most?”
“Really hot coffee?” guessed the Riddler.
“Anyone else?” asked Batman.
“Punch!” snarled a voice. It was Discornia. She punched the Riddler. She was free! The blow sent him near the edge and letting go of the stone. The Riddler’s flailing made his loosen some dirt.
“My poor eyeses!” wailed Gollum’s voice. The Riddler regained his balance. Kiri and Kabuto reappeared.
“Hyper Clock Over!” called the Zecters. Both Riders were winded.
“That’s it!” snarled Kiri. He moved the lever down again. Kabuto did the same.
“Maximum Rider Power!” announced the Zecters. Kabuto pressed the buttons while Kiri pressed a button on the abdomen of his Zecter three times. “One! Two! Three!” counted the Zecters.
“Hyper Kick!” called Kabuto.
“Hyper Crusher!” roared Kiri. His blades came to his hands in a reverse grip.
“Rider Kick!” announced Kabuto’s Zecter.
“Rider Crusher!” called Kiri’s Zecter. Kiri raised his blades, leaving his stomach open for Kabuto’s kick. The attack went straight and true and Kiri lost his suit again. Gorshagh stumbled into the Riddler. They were near the edge, trying to keep us away.
“Keep back! Don’t come any closer!” wailed the Riddler. He then felt something on his leg. “What the?!” Gollum then pulled the Riddler off. The Riddler then grabbed Gorshagh and they all tumbled before a Fell Beast picked them up. They went through a portal. Batman punched the wall near Gandalf in frustration as Gandalf lowered the stone in his hand.
“You almost shattered the Palantír, Batman!” rebuked the wizard.
“Almost,” countered Batman as he took it and put it in his cowl.
“Guys, our ride home is about to depart!” called Wyldstyle.
“Drop the Palantír and turn around slowly!” hissed a voice. I sighed.
“I don’t have time to play, Hiro,” I groaned as I turned. “So, I need you to…explain that!!” Hiro had taken a different form. He looked more like an anthropomorphic tiger with machinery sticking out! He had the Shocker Buckle underneath the Rogue Driver.
“Impressive, is it not?” quizzed the Rogue Driver.
“Hiro, what did you do to yourself?!” I asked.
“I’ve obtained this form when I joined Shocker,” explained Hiro. “Tora-otoko (Tiger-man), I’m called. Unimaginative, yes, but it serves.”
“I’ve never fought anyone with a tiger motif,” said Ichigō.
“I’ve never fought you or Ichimonji,” replied Hiro.
“So, why are you here?” I asked.
“The Palantír,” hissed Hiro. “Hand it over!”
“Suppose we refuse?” I asked. He then drew out his i.d tag.
“This, I HAVE to see,” mused Ichigō.
“Henshin,” announced Hiro. He then became Kamen Rider Rogue. He then entered his Super Charge sequence. “Super Charge.” After that new suit formed, he started a new movement that extended his hands. “Dai Super Charge,” he said. His bulkier armor flew off. We got out of the way to see a new suit. It was purple with black tiger stripes. My heart sank.
“That’s not…” I uttered.
“You see the kind of power you could have had?!” called Rogue, er, Proto-Rift, er… “What you see before you is the combination of Shocker Cyborg and the true Rift Driver. You now look upon Kamen Rider Rift!”
“How does that concern me?” I asked.
“Have you ever wondered why I left you to the streets?” quizzed the newly-christened Rift.
“…Not as often as I should, judging by the tone,” I gulped.
“Well, how do you suppose you’re so strong?” asked Rift.
“Well, from my parents, obviously!” I declared.
“Right, and which parent DID you get that strength from?” asked Rift.
“…I don’t wanna ask,” I said weakly.
“Here’s the thing,” continued Rift, “cyborgs of my caliber are still very much fertile.”
“I don’t…” I began.
“The fact is,” interrupted Rift, “when Shocker makes a cyborg, they alter everything, even the genitals. Some of the cyborgs were naturally occurring between a mother and father cyborg. Granted, they were old when you fought them, Hongo, but it still served to prove our science. The cyborg parents had nanobots that would make cybernetics once the baby was out of the mother’s womb and would alter the genes to make an animal based cyborg. After that, they went through hellish training to be the strongest there was. One thing was never tested, reproduction between a cyborg and a normal human.”
“Wait, but…” I gulped, fearing the worst.
“So, when I escaped the destruction of Shocker,” continued Rift, “I went to your universe, married a woman, I wasn’t about to have a baby out of wedlock and rape was out of the question.”
“Good to know you have SOME morals!” I muttered, my fear dying off.
“In any case,” continued Rift, “after her death, I left you in the streets so you would understand your beast side. However, you made one costly mistake! You accepted help from someone beneath you! Sadly, I couldn’t just shoot you, there would have been too many questions. So, I took the legal route and contested Haruna for possession of you.”
“That went pear-shaped for you and you were tried and found guilty of murder,” recalled Lukas.
“Now, be honest,” quizzed Rift, “should you really accept the help of a lesser being?”
“…I’m going home,” I said as I cancelled my transformation. I saw what he was trying to do.
“I’m sorry, the wind up here is a bit loud. What did you just say?!” growled Rift.
“I’m going home, back to Vorton,” I elaborated.
“Okay,” muttered Rift, “I’m confused. Vorton isn’t your home universe.”
“It’s got my friends, the people that make me stronger,” I countered. “That’s home to me. I don’t wanna fight someone like you. You’re a boring, sad, and bitter old man. You try to make me question my life and humanity. I still feel like a human. The fact that I’m a naturally occurring cyborg hasn’t changed that I’m Megumi Hishikawa. These are still my friends. The fact that they’re not running in terror shows that they don’t care about my biology either. We’re leaving.”
“But, we didn’t fight!” protested Rift. “I didn’t swing a punch at you yet! This isn’t a proper show of power! This is…I don’t even know what it is!”
“It’s called robbing you of satisfaction,” explained Ichigō as he cancelled his transformation. Kämpfer, Kabuto, and Claw followed suit.
“Grandmother said this,” waxed Sōji. “One that drowns in oneself will eventually fall to darkness.”
“You ARE a sad man,” sighed Lukas.
“I must disagree with the ‘man’ bit,” argued Sheela.
“Yeah, that DOES sound like a man-child,” replied Discornia.
“We’re going home and taking the Palantír and Discornia with us,” I declared as I summoned our rides to fall into the Vortex. “I’m sure Turretorg will want to see you.”
“You little s**t!” snarled Rift. “I can NOT believe that you’re walking away from this! You need to know what power you’ve denied yourself! SO, GET OVER HERE AND FIGHT ME!”
“You’ve lost the right to order me when you left me on the streets!” I roared as I mounted my steed. “Vortex Riders, we’re leaving!” And leave with the Palantír and Discornia, we did. We drove off the cliff and fell into the vortex. I heard Rift roar in frustration when we went through.