“We are at this strange beast’s mercy,” called Gandalf as we tumbled through the vortex, “and I do not trust where it is leading us! We must get out!”
“Agreed,” confirmed Batman.
“How do you propose we do that?” asked Hiroki.
“Driver,” Xiomara asked my belt, “can’t you lead us out of here?”
+NEGATIVE+ replied my belt. +VORTEX IS NOT OF DRIVER ORIGIN+
“I have an idea!” called Lukas. “Fräulein Wyldstyle, Batman and I need your scanner!”
“We do?” asked the Dark Knight. He then got the idea and took out a micro-toolkit from his utility belt. Lukas had a habit of carrying various bits of tech with him. Wires, circuit boards, antennae, lights, it always went with him. Wyldstyle tossed Batman the scanner as he explained what he realized Lukas was saying. “If Lukas and I can locate whatever’s generating this rift, then we can disrupt it!” They set to work as they fixed an antenna on the back of the scanner. The light on top started glowing yellow as it made noises.
“Does that mean it worked?” asked Gandalf. The vortex then took us down a sharp curve.
“I think we’re about to find out!” replied Irina.
The dimension we hurtled towards seemed to be a piece of architecture floating in space. It was colored gray with blue, pulsating lines and circles peppering the place. It was very dark at that place. Inside the place, there was a square platform with a blue, metal circle with eight spokes not touching each other in the center. The circle had five, purple, shield-like objects on the upper parts. The entire thing was sitting on a screen with a folding panel on each side. It had various blue lines on the platform proper and had two L shapes facing each other and a circle in the center. A small box was standing on its end with an antenna and a couple of pincer arms rested on either side of the giant blue circle. First, the right L shape glowed purple, then the left L shape glowed white, finally the circle glowed blue. The vortex opened inside the circle as we were thrown out of the vortex. Wyldstyle landed on Hongo, Irina and Sheela, Hiroki, Lukas, and Emmanuel landed on me, Batman was under Mikhail, Haitao, Tanisha, and Xiomara, and Emily, Tonje, Livia and Gandalf were on top of Joshua. We all picked ourselves up, well, the rest of us, I sat down to smooth my dress. That’s when something pinged somewhere in my body. “Line up!” I called. Everyone lined up and I started counting noses. I counted myself as one and went from right to left. After I finished, I recounted because I was short one. Something didn’t click in my brain and it was frustrating me. “Richard, can you help me out here?” I asked. There was no reply. “Richard, I asked you a…a…er…Dame Emily, where’s your brother?!” I realized why my count came up short, Richard was missing. As we called his name, I felt myself rise from the floor. A thought went into my head. “My friends,” I requested, “I want you to look at the bottom of my dress and tell me if you see anything sticking out. I hope I’m wrong, but I think I’m sitting on Richard.”
“Meg, I think I see Richard’s hand!” called Tanisha. I slightly snarled as I hate being called “Meg”. I looked down to see a hand trying to get away from the underside of my dress. I got up to release Richard. He was gasping for air as the floor’s imprints were on his face.
“I couldn’t breathe under there!” he gasped. As he caught his breath, he looked at the machine. “Er, Lukas, you’re our tech wiz. Are machines supposed to shake like that?” Lukas turned to see what he was talking about.
“Only when they’re about to explode!” he yelped.
“HIT THE DECK!” I shouted as I wrapped my arms around Richard and fell backwards. Everyone else dove for the floor and made themselves as flat as possible. The machine did as Lukas predicted, burying the shrapnel in the walls. The explosion opened a portal and sucked the shields into it. The pull dragged us towards the portal, but it closed before we could go in.
“Well,” called Wyldstyle to Batman and Lukas, “I don’t quite know what you two did, but we’re still alive.”
“Are you sure?” groaned Gandalf.
“This technology looks advanced,” mused Lukas. “My guess? That gateway created the rift that brought us here.”
“Erm, which gateway?” asked Gandalf.
“The one that exploded!” snapped Batman.
“Hm, then perhaps…” said Hongo.
“We should rebuild it!” finished Wyldstyle. Everyone picked themselves up again, well, mostly everyone. I was keeping Richard lying on top of me. He tried to get up, but I didn’t let him.
“Meg, if it’s about that dress thing,” he said, “let me remind you that those events were beyond our control.”
“Nevertheless,” I replied in a teasing tone, “you were under a lady’s dress. I’m not letting you go until you’ve made an apology to me.”
“What?!” protested Richard. “That’s absurd! Let me up!”
“You will not?” I replied in the same teasing tone. I then took a pretentious British accent. “Then thy sentence shall be to remain in this maiden’s embrace until the end of time!”
“All right!” he snapped. “My fair princess, this humble and wretched knight doth plead mercy for the despicable act he was party to!”
“Apology accepted,” I giggled as I released Richard. He got up and helped me up. “In all seriousness,” I said as I smoothed my dress again, “we need to fix that machine. If the upgrades to Wyldstyle’s scanner were made properly, that thing was the only thing keeping the vortex stable and is our only way out of this mess.”
“The shrapnel is embedded in pretty high places,” responded Irina. “How are we all going to get it down?”
“My magic can help,” announced Gandalf.
“I’m pretty athletic,” supplied Wyldstyle.
“My batarangs should get it down,” mused Batman.
“My kicks should be able to loosen the shrapnel,” said Hongo.
“What about us?” asked Richard. “I don’t wanna stand here and look pretty and I know you don’t either, my lady.”
+SOLUTION IS EASY+ replied my belt. +MEGUMI MUST PLACE HER HAND ON SOMEONE LIKE UNIT HONGO, UNIT GANDALF, UNIT BATMAN, OR UNIT WYLDSTYLE+ I blinked and looked at Hongo.
“I have no idea what your belt is planning, Megumi-san,” he said, “but go ahead.” I shrugged, then placed my hand on Hongo’s shoulder. All the circles in our belts flashed blue before they spat out an i.d tag. Our own i.d tags had imagery that related to our respective rider forms. These all looked the same with red insect eyes on top and the first Kamen Rider symbol on the bottom, all of it on a green background.
“How do we use these?” asked Lukas.
+ACTIVATE YOUR ARMOR+ responded my belt. +ONCE DONE, PRESS THE RED BUTTON TO EJECT THE IDENTIFICATION TAG AND INSERT THE NEW IDENTIFICATION TAG INTO THE SLOT+
“Let me try,” called Hiroki. He grabbed his i.d tag and struck the same pose he took when we met Hongo. “HENSHIN!” he said. He put the i.d tag into the belt and jumped through the blue circle to form his samurai-esque suit, thus becoming Kamen Rider Sengoku. “Now, where’s the button?”
+ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BUCKLE+ replied my belt. Sengoku found said button, pressed it, and his belt spat out his i.d tag. The instant that happened, most of his armor disappeared. All that were left were the eyes, antennae, the crest on his helmet, and the purple undersuit. He put the new i.d tag into the slot. Then, two halves of a coffin like object appeared at either side. Hiroki was trying to get away, but to no avail. Finally, the coffin snapped on him and trapped him inside.
“HIROKI NEE-SAN!” I shouted. For a minute, I thought I had lost my brother. Thank God I was proven wrong when I heard a voice from inside the coffin.
“Ichigō Steel!” announced the voice. The coffin, or rather, wardrobe, then dissolved to reveal Sengoku in new armor. The helmet looked a lot like Ichigō’s helmet. In fact, the armor had taken on the appearance of Hongo in his suit. Sengoku checked himself for any pain. I ran forward and hugged him, thinking I’d lost another family member. Let’s just say, that’s my greatest fear.
“Nee-san, I’m okay,” assured Sengoku, patting my back to reassure me. “Just slightly tingly.” I released Sengoku and came up with a plan.
“All right, with 20 of us,” I announced to the whole group, “fixing the gateway shouldn’t be a problem. Once I get the Batman, Wyldstyle, and Gandalf i.d tags, we’ll split into teams of four. Hongo’s team will get the shrapnel down from that wall near the right of the gateway. Batman’s team will take care of the upper right shrapnel in the back. Gandalf’s team will deal with the upper left at the back. Wyldstyle’s team will get the shrapnel on the left most ledge. Let’s see, Hiroki, Xiomara, Richard, and myself will be with Hongo-san. Batman will have Emmanuel, Lukas, Tanisha, and Tonje. Mikhail, Livia, Haitao, and Sheela will assist Gandalf. That leaves Team Wyldstyle with Michael, Irina, Emily, and Joshua. Your respective leader’s will instruct you on how to get the shrapnel down.” I then placed my hand on Batman’s, Gandalf’s, and Wyldstyle’s shoulders and got their i.d tags. Since Sengoku was already transformed. He just went to Hongo’s side. Batman Steel, as his teams’ belts had called it, had the cape, the cowl, and the gauntlets on gray armor with the Batman logo on it. Wyldstyle Steel had the hood, the graffiti job, and the ponytail on the armor. Gandalf steel had the hat and robes “Everybody ready?” I asked. Everyone confirmed. “Let’s get to it! Hongo-san, what do you think we should do?”
“I was going to kick at the area the shrapnel was embedded in,” replied Hongo, “but with five people, it will go by faster. I just need to change.” He then struck the same pose as in his native dimension. “Rider…HENSHIN!” He leapt over us and changed into his suit.
“Is that…really necessary?” asked Kamen Rider Guard, Richard, in his Ichigō Steel.
“Considering that part of the belt is voice activated, yes,” responded Ichigō.
“Wait, that’s why you say that?!” cried Sengoku, slightly disappointed.
“Enough of that,” countered Ichigō. “On three, we use our Rider Kick. Are you ready?”
“Let’s do this!” called Kamen Rider Seeker, Xiomara. “Vamonos!”
“Ichi! Ni! San!” counted Ichigō. We all jumped into the air at an incredible height and propelled ourselves feet first towards the shrapnel.
“RIDER KICK!” we all shouted. The impact of five super-powered kicks got all the shrapnel out.
“Holy Child!” yelped Guard. “Those kicks pack some power!”
“I wonder what the other teams are doing?” quizzed Seeker.
Batman and his team were trying to get the shrapnel down, but the batarangs were coming up short.
“COME ON!” shouted Kamen Rider Swing, Tonje. Kamen Rider Hunt, Tanisha, sat down, wracking her brains for a solution, when she spotted something that could easily be hooked.
“Guys,” she called, “what if that thing hides some form of raised platform?” The others looked to see the hook she was talking about.
“It looks thick,” observed Batman. “The cable of my grapple gun might snap. Loath though I am to admit it, but since a twin attack by Lex Luthor and the Joker on Gotham proved I can’t do everything on my own, I think I’m going to need some help with this one.” Team Batman got their grapple guns and fired at the hook. The cables went taut as they all pulled and pulled and pulled until the hook pulled aside the blockage that prevented the platform from rising. It finally rose to a height where the batarangs could loosen the shrapnel up. Once loose enough, it fell to the ground.
Gandalf and his team had found another blockage on a rising platform, but there was no hook. Gandalf was teaching the team how to use magic and use a simple levitation spell. The spell allowed some stair to pop up so they could climb it and use magic to wiggle the shrapnel out. Once done, it fell to the floor. “I do believe you could all be excellent magic folk,” praised Gandalf.
“Excellent!” cheered Kamen Rider Claw, Sheela.
Wyldstyle was trying to yank a cylinder down so a connection to the floor could be made. The operative word being “trying”. She managed to jump high and catch the cylinder’s edge, but she couldn’t get it down. “Can’t believe I’d say this, but I need more weight!” she said. Her team then leapt up and grabbed hold, pulling the cylinder down. It made a connection with the floor and raised two walls. Wyldstyle and her team effortlessly wall jumped to the top and got the shrapnel down with a sharp tug. It fell to the floor and it all turned into Lego bricks, for some odd reason. Then…it happened. At first, I didn’t believe it, but Kamen Rider Outback, Joshua, rubbed his eyes.
“Am I the only one seeing this?” he asked.
“Numbers near the giant Lego bricks?” asked Kamen Rider Touché, Emily.
“Ah, Master Builder Vision,” said Wyldstyle. “Tell me, do you guys feel a need to build? To create? To make something without instructions?” They all nodded. “Then act on it. Rebuild the gateway!” The new Master Builders then got to work and rebuilt it perfectly! Once finished, a platform raised with four cylinders inside. It looked like a vehicle could go through.
“Stand aside,” said Batman. “Let the Batmobile take care of this.” We canceled our transformations as we stepped aside to let the Batmobile drive on the new thing. It took a while, leaving Batman to drum his fingers on the wheel. Eventually, the accelerator switch stopped automatically and the Batmobile reversed. Everything started glowing blue.
“Re-routing from back-up power,” said a voice. “All systems are go. Limited system functionality restored.”
“Limited system functionality?” asked Wyldstyle. “Am I gonna lose an arm if I go through that thing?” It was still shaking as it generated a portal.
“It does look unstable,” said Batman.
“I saw some glowing parts get sucked into it,” said Hongo. “They must have been important.”
“Well,” said Gandalf, “it seems to be…alive, at least.”
“My relic scanner’s showing that there’s definitely something through there,” said Wyldstyle.
“Could it be leading us to the missing pieces?” asked Emmanuel.
“Could be,” said Batman as he pondered.
“Or MetalBeard?” said Wyldstyle.
“Couldn’t be,” said Batman. Wyldstyle hmphed at this.
“If it can lead to here,” I said, “then it could lead us to our friends and family.” That’s when a voice that sounded like it had a lot of rum screamed from the vortex.
“That’s MetalBeard!” said Wyldstyle. “He’s in trouble! Or, he’s happy. He uses ‘Aar!’ for a lot of things. Either way, we have to find him!”
“Gear up, everyone!” I said as I mounted my horse. AS everyone got on their respective vehicles or horses, I gave the command. “Let’s ride!” We all charged through the portal. Where will we end up? We don’t know.