I will freely admit, I was feeling nervous. Okaa-san had completed my dress in about a week. She used white with gold for the outermost skirt. My shoulders and upper arms were exposed while my forearms had sleeves from the elbow to my fingers. The interior of the sleeves and the fluffy material at my elbows were gold. My bodice was white with gold trim on top. The exposed petticoats were white like the train of my dress. This was the first time I wore a dress with a train. I was at my makeup mirror, putting on lipstick. When I finished, I noticed how worried I look, especially without my tiara on. That thing was like a security blanket. I started breathing deeply and unclenched my fingers. “You’ve been through worse, girl,” I whispered to myself. “Besides, your friends believe in you.” I heard a knock. “Come in,” I called. Hiroki poked his head through the door.
“We’re ready,” he reported.
“On my way,” I said. Hiroki left the door open. No turning back. Time to be a Queen. I walked slowly, noticing the details of the hallway from my room to the Gateway room. It took a minute to get there. When I did, I saw the aisle I was going to walk down. Death and her team, our families, the F.N.S, X-PO, Turretorg, Discornia, Team 10, the Stormtroopers and Vader, Rusty, the Brigadier, Elphaba, Chell, and Hongo were on either side. Ursula and our Transformer allies had already gone home. Batman, Wyldstyle, and Gandalf were on the Gateway platform. Gandalf was in the center, Batman was on his right, Wyldstyle was on his left. I walked down the aisle and got on the Gateway pad in front of Gandalf. When I stopped, I knelt down. Batman handed Gandalf a simple gold crown with three points on the front and an oval shaped sapphire at the base of each point. Gandalf accepted the crown and first raised it for all to see, then lowered it onto my head.
“Now come the days of the Queen,” called Gandalf. “May they be blessed.” I gave a small smile, then rose and turned to face my friends. I was met with applause and a teary-eyed Okaa-san. As I looked, I realized that they wanted me to assume more power, so I can better help them, and they can better help me. The butterflies in my stomach went down as I motioned for quiet.
“Thank you,” I began. “All of you. In all my years, I never had such valuable friends and family. Without you, I would be a totally different person. I am truly grateful to have you as my friends and family, even those that were once thought of as fiction. So, I say again, thank you, and may our days be blessed.” I was met with applause. “Now then,” I decreed after it had died down, “to the cafeteria? Ready to feast?” I was met with cheers. “Let’s go!” I called. We sojourned to the cafeteria. As we ate and drank, I noticed War get something on her phone. “Everything alright?” I asked in a low voice, not wanting to disturb the party.
“Not really,” grunted War in the same low tone. She called Death over. My brother joined us. “I just got a message saying Jō had entered the campus.”
“Jō?” I asked.
“Shigeru Jō,” whispered Death, “a guest lecturer when we have a history lesson.”
“The name sounds familiar,” muttered Hiroki.
“Hiroki, you, of all people, should know him!” whispered Death. “He’s the 7th Showa Era Rider, the 7th Rider of all Riders, Kamen Rider Stronger!”
“Stronger?! Seriously?!” yelped Hiroki.
“Yes, and it said he just entered After Academy,” grunted War.
“So, another lecture?” I asked.
“Except, he’s been in the campus for a week now,” whispered Death.
“That’s…disturbing,” I muttered.
“Pardon me,” whispered Death. “I must investigate this.”
“See you later, then,” I bid. Death bowed and left.
“If this worries Death, should it worry us?” asked Hiroki.
“I should hope not,” grunted War.
I had arrived back at After Academy. Something was going up my spine and it wasn’t good. I entered the selectively permeable wall and found Jō. He was with his girlfriend, Misaki Yuriko. They both had the halo mark on their brow to show that they were dead. Yuriko noticed that Jō’s eye and hand were ashen gray. Jō was confused about it. He brought it to my attention and fear gripped my heart. I ordered a Lockdown. Nothing was going in or out. “What’s gotten into you?!” asked Jō.
“The only way any dead person’s body parts would go ashen,” I explained, “would be because those parts were stolen from your grave!” Jō and Yuriko then realized the implications. I got my belt on. “Henshin!” I announced.
“Death!” called my belt. My suit formed. Yuriko jumped into the air and landed in a red, black, and yellow suit with a ladybug motif. This was her hero form, Denpa Ningen Tackle (Electro-wave Human, Tackle). Jō took his jacket off to reveal a yellow shirt with a large, black S on the front. He then stuck his right arm to the side and his left arm pointed towards the right. He then rotated his arms so they were sticking out to the left.
“Henshin!” he announced. He then pulled an imaginary rip cord on his left arm with his right. “STRONGER!” His suit appeared in a crackle of electricity. The belt looked like an eight-pointed star. His suit was black with red shoulder pads connecting at the rib cage and sporting a large, black S. He was sporting a white scarf. The whole motif was based off the Rhinoceros beetle. This was Kamen Rider Stronger.
“Is there any artefact that the intruder would want?” asked Tackle.
“There is one,” I whispered. “We’d best check it out.” I led the two heroes to the room where the Foundation Saber was kept. Shocker Nova Combatmen were accompanying Igura. One of them alerted her to our presence. Igura turned to see us. Her left hand looked like it belonged on a man and her eyes were a different color. One was black, the other was brown. What scared me was that her right arm was like a Vortonian’s. I didn’t need to guess the donor.
“Well now, Kamen Rider Stronger!” she chuckled. “Thank you for donating your hand and eye to me. Rest assured; you will not be forgotten when the new multiversal order is here.”
“Back away from that room!” I whispered. “I’m warning you!”
“You’re warning me?” hissed Igura. “No, I’M warning YOU! Don’t interfere. You have no idea what I’m capable of.”
“You have no idea what that blade will do to your psyche!” I whispered. “You’re about to unleash forces you cannot control, nor comprehend! The Foundation Saber’s power will tear you asunder!”
“I AM power!” growled Igura. She turned to her men. “Keep them occupied.” The Combatmen swarmed us, slowing us down sufficiently to allow Igura access. She entered the wall and I went through enough to clear a path. I went through the wall, too late. She had already disabled the security measures and grabbed the sword. She then put it in a metal harness shaped like a blade. After that, the sword started unleashing power, as did Igura. The energies synced with each other, signifying that Igura had mastered the Foundation Saber. “At last, the power of the multiverse belongs to ME!”
“No…” I breathed, my transformation cancelling automatically. I fell to my knees. Igura then put the tip of the blade at my throat.
“I would cleave you in two for taking my Hiro’s soul!” she snarled. She then guided my head upwards with the sword. “But, you didn’t, did you?” I was confused. “I looked through your Ledger of the Dead,” explained Igura. “You keep track of all the souls you’ve claimed. Hiro’s soul is marked with a blue circle instead of a green check mark. You couldn’t find his soul in Chima, could you?”
“…No, I couldn’t,” I admitted. “However, Hiro is dead and will remain so!”
“Time will tell,” laughed Igura. She then grabbed me by the hair and dragged me out of the room. She released me and ordered her men to retreat. Stronger and Tackle looked and saw Igura make a circle with the Foundation Saber, creating a rift. “Farewell,” she bid. She and her Combatmen departed. Stronger and Tackle checked me over.
“This war has just tipped in the enemy’s favor,” I muttered.
“A harness for the blade?” asked Vortech when I returned. “Surely my genetic donation would be sufficient.”
“Vortech, you warned me about the power this thing has,” I replied. “I am not a fool. For all I knew, the sword’s power would still make me lose my mind, even with my new Vortonian arm. Better to play it safe.”
“Fair point,” conceded Vortech. “Now, we should be prepared for Universe G-H-0-5-T-8-U-5-T-3-R-5-1-9-8-4. Zod will be in charge and Sludgiona will take your place.”
“Pardon?” I asked.
“You have bigger priorities, locating Hiro’s soul, for a start,” replied Vortech. “Why settle for just one edge when we have a chance for two?”
“So, you want me to find Hiro and bring him back to us?” I quizzed.
“Correct,” confirmed Vortech. “Do not come back empty-handed again.”
“Understood,” I obliged.