I shook my head to clear the impact. My surroundings were…colorful, to say the least. It seemed like an American street in the 20’s. An elderly man came up. He wore a straw hat and a sash that said “Mayor” on it. He was bright and cheerful. “Good Morning!” he cheered
“…Good Morning,” I replied. “I am Hiro Adachi, who are you?”
“I’m Christopher George Weaver!” introduced the man. “The mayor of Main Street, USA!”
“USA?” I repeated. “I’m in America?”
“You look new,” remarked Mayor Weaver. “Are you moving in?”
“I’m…not going to be staying long,” I answered.
“That’s a pity,” sighed Mayor Weaver before putting on his happy face. “Well, in any case, enjoy your visit!” He headed off to his car where his wife was waiting.
“Really, now, Christopher,” she remarked as they pulled away, “don’t you think he needs a doctor?”
“He seemed all right to me,” assured the mayor. They disappeared and I ducked into an alley to raise Foundation Prime.
“Mayday!” I hissed into my comms unit. “Mayday! Mayday! This is a distress call! This is Hiro Adachi, resurrected!” I was met with static. “Damn!” I swore. “I need a Foundation Element’s power to boost the signal!”
“Found one,” reported the Rogue Driver. “Keep walking. I’ll get you there.” I shrugged, then walked down the street. Various cartoon characters were running by alongside humans. I then saw a large castle, white with blue roofs. I was told to go there. Near the portcullis across the moat, I saw a boy with spiky brown hair, oversized yellow shoes, and a goofy expression talking to a woman with blood-red hair, a teal sea star in her hair, and wearing a sea-green dress. She was accompanied by a raven-haired man in princely regalia. “The boy has it,” confirmed the Rogue Driver.
“Excuse me!” I called to the trio. They turned to see me.
“Who are you?” asked the boy.
“Where I’m from,” I chided, “it’s bad manners to ask questions before introducing yourself. In any case, that’s irrelevant. You have an object of immense power?”
“Er, yes, the Keyblade,” stammered the boy.
“Readings of this ‘Keyblade’ match those of a Foundation Element,” reported the Rogue Driver.
“Excellent!” I cheered. I then drew one of my pistols. “I’ll be taking the Keyblade, then.”
“Whoa! WHOA! Okay!” yelped the boy. He then summoned a large key with a yellow guard. “See? Here it is! FIRAGA!” He swiped at the air and threw a large fireball at me! I got out of the way and fired back. It ended in a shoot-out as we circled. The girl didn’t do so, so I wrapped my free arm around her and held the gun to her head.
“Hand over the Keyblade or her dress is stained with something grey, brain-matter grey!” I threatened. Then, it happened. She screamed, making me wince slightly, then…apparently, she wears heels as one of them punctured my foot! I released her and dropped my gun to grab my left foot and hop around in pain saying “ITAI!” loudly. She ran as fast as she could in her heels and dress and buried herself in her raven-haired friend’s arms.
“That was his wife you threatened!” snarled the boy as he charged at me. I grabbed both my guns and put my i.d tag into the Rogue Driver.
“Henshin!” I announced. I fired, making a red circle with my suit’s profile going sideways, and leapt through the circle. I became Kamen Rider Rogue once again and turned my pistols into their Shōtō (short sword) mode. I clashed with the boy again and again, until I “accidentally” loosened my grip on the swords. They were knocked out and the Keyblade was about to strike, but I grabbed the shaft. “Your blade is connected to you, no?” I remarked. “Let’s fix that!” I sent a surge of energy through the blade and it ran through the boy. After a few seconds, I wrestled it from the boy’s grip and stood over him.
“That won’t be in your hands for long!” boasted the boy. He held his hands out and waited for something. Nothing happened. “WHAT?!” yelped the boy.
“I severed your connection with the Keyblade,” I explained. “You’re unarmed and useless!”
“Give that back!” shouted the boy as he leapt onto my arm. I swatted him aside.
“Hello! Rogue Driver!” called a voice over the comms I missed hearing. “I detected a surge of energy! What’s going on?”
“My sweet eagle,” I replied, “your tiger is back!”
“Hiro-Chan!” cheered Igura. “Where have you been?! I’ve been looking all over the multiverse for you!!”
“Well, I’ve been denied access to Foundation Prime,” I answered. “Can Vortech give me a lift? I have two things of value to him.”
“I’m afraid he’s away,” replied Igura. “But, I can get you home!” A portal opened and I limped into it at top speed.
Vorton’s current atmosphere was tense, I won’t lie. We tried various methods to take our mind off the danger that Hiro presented. I toured Vorton and found various training exercises and recreational activities going on. In the Battle Arena, Hongo was training some Stormtroopers in riding speeder bikes. “All right,” he called, “on your bikes!” The troopers mounted their speeders. “All you need to do is weave through the trees and get to the other end, then turn around and return here. On my mark! 3! 2! 1! GO!” Three troopers took off, one’s bike exploded, and the last one didn’t go. The rider altered some settings, then found himself and the bike flying into the air. Hongo face-palmed. A rider crashed into a tree. One rider found himself turned around and crashed into the other rider. Hongo saw me. “Vader said these were the Empire’s finest,” he muttered. I commed someone.
“Requesting a cleanup and medical crew in the Battle Arena,” I called. The rider that went flying landed, hard. I then headed to the firing range to see Fred training some troops.
“Men, we may not see eye to eye, but you ARE the backbone of your Empire!” he declared. “Show me how you hit those targets!” The troopers readied their blasters and fired for a bit. “CEASE FIRE!” roared Fred. “Why are you idiots shooting from the hip?!”
“Permission to explain, sir!” requested a trooper.
“Permission granted!” answered Fred.
“Sir, the armor doesn’t let us aim, sir!” reported the trooper.
“Bulls**t!” swore Fred. He was wearing armor in his size. “I can easily…what the?” He couldn’t lift his gun up to line up his sights.
“I hate to say, ‘I told you so,’ sir,” snarked a second trooper.
“Then don’t!” snapped Fred. “What about spinal movement?”
“Sir, permission to demonstrate spinal movement!” requested a third trooper as he engaged the safety of his gun.
“Permission granted,” replied Fred. The trooper dropped his gun and tried to bend over, no dice. “So, none,” remarked Fred.
“I hate to sound needy, sir,” called the last trooper, “but our peripheral is practically nonexistent.”
“Is it now?” asked Fred as he put his helmet on. “Why, yes! Yes, it is,” he confirmed. He then took off the helmet. “So, we can’t aim, can’t see out of the corner of our eyes, can’t bend over…”
“And our armor is made of a material that is so weak, we literally die in one hit,” supplied the third trooper.
“That explains why you guys are losing,” commented Fred. I left that room and looked into another room to see Linda going through a drill with three Stormtroopers.
“So, you guys are supposed to be policemen as well as soldiers?” she muttered. “I gotta say, military police make me twitchy and our own boys in blue are near enough. Okay, here’s the situation: you’ve got orders to identify drivers on the street.”
“Why?” asked a trooper.
“What do you mean, ‘why’?!” snapped Linda. “You’re searching for someone or something!”
“How will we find the thing we’re looking for if we don’t know what it is?” asked the second trooper.
“NOW, we’re asking the real questions,” joked the third trooper.
“Seriously?!” called Linda “Fine, you’re looking for…” she then picked up an R9 Astromech, “this droid, right here!”
“Found it,” remarked the first. “Job’s done.”
“No! Come on!” shouted Linda. “Look, you’ve got orders to stop drivers and search for a droid. I will drive this speeder around the course, you stop and identify me. Are we clear?”
“Eeeyup!” replied the third trooper. Linda put the Astromech into the speeder, started the speeder, and went halfway around until the second trooper stopped her.
“Good day,” she greeted.
“How long have you had that droid?” asked the trooper.
“About a year now,” replied Linda.
“I’m gonna need to see your identification,” requested the trooper.
“I don’t think there’s a need for that,” answered Linda. The trooper then tried to be funny.
“We don’t need to see her i.d right now,” he called to his buddies.
“I’m not hearing this!” growled Linda as the troopers giggled.
“Oh, but you are,” replied the joking trooper. “Move along.” At that point, I made my presence known and made the trooper bend over backwards to look at me.
“If you nitwits try this sort of nonsense during our final battle,” I whispered. “I will scour your universe to find you! Are we clear?!”
“Crystal!” yelped the trooper. I released him and they tried again while I left. I remembered that I had an appointment and headed to the Gateway room.
“X-PO, I need a rift to the Ghostbusters of 1984,” I called.
“One rift, coming up!” replied X-PO. I headed to the Ghostbusters’ universe and wound up in front of Ghostbusters HQ. I knocked on the door and heard that it was okay to enter. Sludgiona was in a barrel reading a magazine next to a red-head named Janine, also reading a magazine.
“Hey!” I said, as cheerfully as I could, noticing the awkward silence. “How are things?”
“Slow, business-wise,” muttered Janine. “That’s fine though, since the boys are still trying to help Sludgiona here. Despite appearances, she’s very tidy and neat. A really valuable temp here.”
“Has Egon found your universe?” I asked Sludgiona.
“No,” she sighed. “Have any of your people?”
“No,” I admitted lamely.
“Figures,” she mumbled as she grabbed a soda.
“Look, we’re going to find it,” I assured. “It’s just that the multiverse is big and the maps we have are totally different, given that one is from Tarlax 13 and the other is from Vorton. We will find a common reference point and…”
“I didn’t ask you to come here to nag about that,” interrupted Sludgiona after she sipped her drink.
“Then, why did you ask me to visit?” I asked.
“I…” she was struggling to find the words. “I wanted to apologize.”
“…For what?” I asked.
“For…for everything! For fighting you, even after you freed me!” answered Sludgiona. “I don’t know, maybe I should’ve asked for help a while ago.”
“…Apology accepted,” I replied.
“Maybe if I asked you to help, I wouldn’t be stranded here!” cried Sludgiona.
“Stop,” I directed. Sludgiona looked confused. “I was the one who destroyed your declamation chip.”
“Might as well have been me,” mumbled Sludgiona.
“The only mistakes we’re responsible for are the ones we make ourselves, even in an emotional state,” I countered. “I was the one who let her zeal to free the multiverse influence that decision, and it was still the wrong one. We’ve all made mistakes in the past and we’re gonna make many more in the future. The only thing we can do is pick up after ourselves, learn from those mistakes, and move on. We can play the blame game after we died.” Sludgiona gave a sad smile.
“Those are…sagely words,” she mused.
“Is there…anything I can get you?” I asked.
“Not right now,” replied Sludgiona. “This dimension is starting to grow on me. I’ll talk to you later.” A little terse, maybe, but she meant it kindly. I summoned a ride home and toured Vorton again when I came back. Vader was taught Poker by Richard and learned quickly.
“Raising by 2,000,” declared Vader as he put 16,000 studs into the pot.
“Is that a joke, my lord?” asked a Stormtrooper.
“Do I joke that often?” asked Vader.
“I call,” replied Mr. Babineaux. His son, Emmanuel, was looking on.
“He has him!” he cheered to himself.
“Who has who?” I asked, startling Emmanuel. He recovered quickly.
“Papa, he has Richard, how you say, on the ropes,” he replied. I looked at Mr. Babineaux’s studs.
“What was the buy-in?” I asked.
“500,000 studs,” answered Emmanuel.
“He’s down to a quarter that now!” I observed.
“Not for long,” boasted Emmanuel. “He’ll get the pot.”
“What makes you so sure?” I asked.
“…Well…Poker is a…very deep…and involved game,” floundered Emmanuel. “Papa’s strategy will become apparent in a minute.”
“…You have absolutely no idea how Poker is played, do you?” I asked.
“…Non,” replied Emmanuel. “But, I HAVE gained a new appreciation for the game.”
“When?” I asked.
“When Papa started playing it as much as he goes to church,” answered Emmanuel. “He will be victorious and defeat Vader!”
“Vader’s gonna be tough to crack,” I observed. “Besides, Richard’s on a roll. For the past month, he’s won 202 Poker games of varying styles, even his weakest, Texas Hold-em.”
“Perhaps a wager is in order?” asked Emmanuel.
“I don’t want to bet against a man’s father,” I replied.
“Well, if the Queen is too afraid,” taunted Emmanuel. He only uses my position like that to try and get a rise out of me. It always works, I don’t know why!
“Name your stakes!” I declared.
“Loser buys the winner’s drink,” offered Emmanuel.
“It’s a bet!” I agreed as we shook hands. We then looked on. It was Mr. Babineaux’s bet.
“All in!” he answered.
“I’ll take you up on that,” called Richard as he went all in.
“Blast!” hissed the trooper. “I fold!”
“I fold as well,” replied Vader.
“Pretty bold move to go all in when you’ve lost three quarters of your buy-in in previous rounds,” mused Richard.
“Are you afraid a Frenchman cannot cover his bets?” taunted Mr. Babineaux.
“Perish the thought,” assured Richard. “I just hate to kick someone when they’re down. Let’s see ‘em because I think you’re bluffing and will lose!”
“Well, if it’s the rough stuff we’re doing,” answered Mr. Babineaux, “take a look!”
“A full house? Unbelievable!” gasped Richard.
“And there was no cheating from him,” reported Vader.
“Très bon!” cheered Emmanuel. He turned to me. “I’m a great lover of Chateau d’Yquem from Sauternes. That nectar is one of the gods!”
“I see I have gained a fan!” called Mr. Babineaux.
“Well, I hate to disappoint your fans,” countered Richard.
“…Quoi?” (What?) asked Mr. Babineaux. Richard revealed his hand. “A ROYAL FLUSH?!” protested Mr. Babineaux.
“And HE wasn’t cheating either!” remarked Vader.
“Good thing we folded, my Lord,” observed the trooper.
“203 straight games,” I counted. Emmanuel was red in the face. “Frenchmen don’t like losing?”
“No, we don’t!” confirmed Emmanuel.
“Well, we still have a bet,” I reminded him. “Oddly enough, I’m more preferable to Scotch Whiskey.”
“I will need to visit Scotland to get it,” replied Emmanuel.
“Oh, you can get it when this whole thing is over,” I assured. Emmanuel gave me a look. I left Emmanuel to fume and speak with his father to head back to the Gateway room. I noticed that the Brigadier was with Elphaba and Chell, but no Rusty. “Rusty still getting used to two legs?” I asked.
“Oh no,” replied Elphaba, “she’s just in the Simpsons’ universe.”
“By whose authority?!” I demanded.
“Ms. Sheela’s” answered the Brigadier. “She went with Rusty and Team 10 to investigate a…Plumber…distress call in that universe.”
“You know, I’m getting a little sick and tired of people going on little excursions behind my back!” I snapped. “Maybe I should just make a time-clock!” That was when the gateway opened. “Well, look who decided to…WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!” Sheela and her team were battered and bruised! They had two new guys. One of them was a young man, the other was a tall humanoid. It had a purple face with four eyes making the shape of a square on its angle, horns lining the face, no visible mouth, a white body with four red eyes on the chest, wings folded onto the shoulders connecting to the chest eyes, and black feet, lower legs, and left forearm. His right arm was colored green and ended in a vine like pattern on the upper arm. “And who are these two?” I asked.
“My name is Kazuraba Kōta,” panted the guy.
“And I am Reinrassic III, seventh son of the Noble Highbreed House of Derazza, direct descendant of the Pure Blooded High Order of Rarsect, and current Atasian Supreme,” introduced the alien.
“Reinrassic…Reiny?!” I yelped. “You’re the Highbreed Ben helped out?”
“Atasian,” corrected Reiny, “and, yes.”
“Everyone to the medical ward at once,” I ordered. “I want to know what went on.”