Hongo woke up before us. He didn’t have a restful night. Shocker still plagues his mind, even after its defeat. The fact that a man that gave that organization the idea of a transformation belt for its super soldiers was still alive and travelling the dimensions had opened old wounds. He decided to head to the gateway to see Batman working at it. “Trouble sleeping?” he asked. Batman whirled to see Hongo standing there.
“Not really,” replied Batman. “I usually strike at crime during the night. With no crime right now, I’ve been restless.”
“You speak as though there was tragedy in your life,” observed Hongo.
“Well, since everyone aside from Gandalf and you know my backstory,” rasped Batman as he reached for the cowl, “I might as well tell you.” He pulled it back to reveal his face. “My name is Bruce Wayne. I’m the son of Dr. Thomas Wayne, a wealthy man who had inherited a fortune that was built through industry and real estate. When I was a boy, my parents and I were leaving the theater after watching a Zorro movie. We turned into an alley to find a mugger. My parents tried to convince the man not to mug them, but he just killed them after more refusal to give up their valuables quietly. I survived the incident and will freely admit to being traumatized by the whole affair. Afterwards, I fell into a crack near Wayne Manor and discovered a cave full of bats. At first, I used to be terrified of bats. After my butler, Alfred, got me out, I went in again after a few days. I always returned, determined to face my fears until, eventually, a bat flew by my window and I didn’t blink. By that time, I was studying law and learned how corrupted my home of Gotham was. By then, I swore on my parent’s grave to fight injustice wherever it was. I started training my body to prepare for the fight against evil and took the motif of an animal that influenced my life.”
“Thus, becoming Batman?” guessed Hongo.
“Right,” confirmed Bruce. “What about you? Since I told you my backstory, might as well give me yours.”
“It’s only fair,” agreed Hongo. “Although, I was not traumatized as a child like you were. I was practicing for a motorcycle grand prix with a man I called friend, Tōbei Tachibana. During that time, people from the Sacred Hegemony Of Cycle Kindred Evolutionary Realm, the Shocker organization I’ve kept mentioning, had decided I was a perfect test subject for their mutant cyborg super soldier program as I was an athlete with an I.Q. of 600. I was kidnapped, genetically modified to accept grasshopper DNA, and cybernetically altered. I was about to be brainwashed when a professor at the college I attended had managed to cut the power temporarily to allow us to escape. I decided to fight Shocker at every turn as the Kamen Rider. Shocker didn’t like that and so tried again with another person, Hayato Ichimonji. He almost bought into the brainwashing before I interfered. I went on to fight Shocker branches overseas while Ichimonji stayed behind to be the second Kamen Rider. Nowadays, more Kamen Riders protect the planet and they aren’t even cyborgs. They can consider themselves lucky. Like you, my life can never return to normal.”
“My sympathies,” said Bruce.
“I would hate to interrupt the bonding between you two,” I called. They whirled to see me standing there with a smirk on my face.
“Shouldn’t your shoes have made noise?” snapped Bruce as he put the cowl back on and regained his raspy voice.
“Actually,” I replied, “I’ll let you guys in on a little secret.” I lifted my dress high enough to reveal my feet, my BARE feet. “I never wear shoes under this thing.”
“And you were walking around a forest in bare feet?!” yelped Batman.
“I’ve got tough feet,” I assured, “like a Hobbit.” The rest of the gang joined us. “Are we all accounted for?”
“Not quite,” muttered Emmanuel. “Some of us haven’t had our coffee.”
“Oh, yeah,” I realized. “All right, quick breakfast and coffee, then we get another Keystone.”
“Is coffee really important?” asked Hongo. “We need to get that Keystone now!” The air went quiet as we all stared at Hongo. Gandalf wisely kept quiet.
“The longer we wait for you to make sense, Hongo-san,” I threatened, “the longer you keep us from our coffee.” Hongo backed off. “That’s what I thought.” We got our breakfast, bagels and coffee, then we mounted our respective vehicles and got in front of the gateway. “All ready?” I asked. Everyone confirmed their status. I reared my horse back. “CHARGE!” I shouted, leading the charge into the portal. We ran through the vortex, ready to take on whatever dimension was our destination. “Driver, what’s our destination?” I asked my belt.
+DESTINATION IS DIMENSION T-H-3-5-1-M-P-5-0-N-5+ replied my belt.
“Thank you!” I praised. We soon arrived at the other end. I wish I could say nothing exciting happened, but that would be a lie. Something didn’t sit right with where we are, but I couldn’t place what it was. Lukas, on the other hand…
“Er, guys,” gulped Lukas, “where’s the ground?” We all looked down and saw it a couple of miles below us. Gravity then remembered what it does to all objects as we started falling.
“Where are we?!” asked Wyldstyle over the wind.
“And why does everything look…strange?!” quizzed Batman as he could see a town below us. We passed by some letters that spelled something. A choir then sang what the letters spelled.
“The Simpsons!” it said. As each syllable reached our ears, my heart sank lower and lower. The phrase “oh no!” escaped my lips. I won’t lie, I HATE The Simpsons with a passion! Given that I’ve had the misfortune of seeing at least one or two episodes out of its absurdly long run, I can guess what’s happening as we fall.
A boy with a bit of a belly, a spiky hairstyle with hair color matching his mustard yellow skin, Bart Simpson, will be writing lines in detention until the bell rings. He’ll then run out and hop on his skateboard to escape the school.
His dad, a man with a beer gut, the same skin tone as Bart, a permanent five o’ clock shadow, and a bald head, Homer Simpson, will extract a nuclear rod with tongs before the whistle blows and he takes off his hazard suit, during which, the nuclear rod gets stuck to his back.
While that’s going on, the mom, a tall lady with the longest blue beehive hairstyle, Marge Simpson, will be shopping and reading a magazine. The baby girl, a kid with spiky hair and always sucking on her pacifier, Maggie Simpson, shall ride on the checkout conveyor and get scanned and put in a grocery sack. She’ll poke her head out and gives a few sucks on her pacifier.
During which, band practice will be going on and a girl with spiky hair like Maggie, Lisa Simpson, plays a saxophone solo, annoying her band teacher as he silently tells her to get out. She does so, still playing the thing!
Meanwhile, Homer is going to be driving his pink car, get an itch on his back, remove the nuclear rod, and throw it out the car into the street.
At that point, Bart will be busy skating through Springfield…wherever! I heard from Richard’s father, Fred, an avid Simpsons fan since it came out, it’s supposed to be based on Springfield, Oregon, annoying everyone by getting too close, even the police officer on duty.
Meanwhile, Maggie shall be turning the wheel of her car seat with Marge, the pair of them honking the horn.
Homer will then drive up to the garage and open the door while Bart skates over the car, annoying Homer. Lisa will wheel by on her bike, getting too close to Homer, making him say “D’oh!” Then Marge will drive up, going in too fast, scaring Homer into running into the house. The Simpsons will then rush to their couch to watch T.V. Usually, there’s a gag involving that instance.
This time, the gag was that we crashed through the ceiling, scattering the family and getting them out of the house. Batman, Gandalf, Hongo, Wyldstyle, and I landed on the couch while the rest had piled onto the floor. The words “Created by Matt Groening” appeared on the television. The house then shook from the impact, compromising structural integrity, most likely. Gandalf then took the remote, unsure of what it is, pressed the channel button, and went to a channel with a clown, Krusty the Clown, I believe the name was. “Enough T.V!” exclaimed Batman. Thank you! “Let’s figure out why we’re here.” While Gandalf had discovered what the average donut was and munched on it, I tried to turn off the T.V.
“Come on!” I snarled. Nineties T.V’s were apparently beyond me as I couldn’t find the off button. I then resorted to slapping the thing, which, oddly enough, resulted in getting the Krusty i.d tag. I arched an eyebrow at this. “Er, Driver?” I asked.
+THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE+ faltered my belt. +UNABLE TO OFFER EXPLANATION AT THIS TIME+ I blinked, then shrugged.
“Hey, guys!” called Wyldstyle. “My scanner’s found something in the couch!”
“Let’s get it out then!” exclaimed Emmanuel. He flung the cushions off and reached in to grab something, but even his vaunted strength couldn’t get it out. “Er, I know the French can be a proud people, but may I have some help? Monsieur Batman, I believe the two of us can use your grapple gun.”
“Looks like it,” agreed Batman. Emmanuel then struck his Henshin pose.
“Henshin!” he announced as he inserted the i.d tag into the belt. He jumped through the blue circle, donning his Arch suit, and swapped his i.d tag for the Batman one.
“Batman Steel!” called the belt. The wardrobe appeared, closed on Arch, formed the new armor, and dissolved, revealing Arch in Batman Steel. Both he and Batman fired their grapple guns and yanked hard. A bunch of metal pieces flew out of the couch. Gandalf used his magic to lift a record player onto speakers, which blasted music before the vibrations shook it apart. Richard tried the back door, but it was blocked from the outside by the debris that had fallen from our landing. Wyldstyle then used her Master Builder powers to construct an elaborate slingshot and aimed it at the window. Using some of the debris as ammo, she fired at a window, shattering it and allowing us passage to the back yard. As we explored the backyard, a portal opened over the sandbox and spat out a strange device before it closed. Batman got a closer looking.
“Interesting,” he muttered. “The markings on this device appear to be the same as on the Shift Keystone. Perhaps they’re linked? Someone’s trying to help us.”
“Batman,” I observed, “I think that’s the Keystone power transmitter my belt talked about last night.”
“Then there’s another piece of the puzzle that’s missing,” quizzed Batman, “how do I use this thing?” Batman then saw instructions on how to use the gauntlet on its view-screen. “Okay then,” he said, allowing a brief smile at his fortune. “Let’s see, ‘Step one: say ‘Shift Keystone, Activate’. Step two: state where you want shift portals. Step three: Say Shift, then target’s name, then the color of the portal target will go through’.”
“I can see something on the roof!” I called.
“I think there’s something in the treehouse,” Lukas pointed out.
“Those pipes could be useful,” mused Emmanuel.
“I think there’s something stuck in the chimney!” called Emily. I craned my neck to look up to see a bit of Keystone stuck inside.
“All right,” muttered Batman, “time for a test run. Shift Keystone, Activate! Cyan, over the treehouse! Yellow, over the roof on my left! Magenta, on the roof to my right!” The portals then appeared in exactly as Batman described. “All right, time for some guinea pigs. Let’s see…” I don’t know why, but he gave me a mischievous grin. “Shift! Megumi! Cyan!” A cyan portal opened beneath me and gave me what I call a reverse Monroe moment. You know that picture of Marilyn Monroe holding down her dress over a vent? This time, the portal tried to suck my dress into it and I had to hold it up. I was sucked in and landed on the treehouse’s roof. I bounced and grabbed the edge. Sadly, that was the catalyst for bringing it down. After it fell, I landed not so gracefully, getting tangled in the skirts of my dress, requesting help, a mess of a time to get myself untangled, and finally giving Batman what for!
“GIVE A GIRL SOME WARNING NEXT TIME, WILL YA?!” I shouted. Batman appeared to pay no heed
“Shift! Hongo! Magenta!” Hongo was caught by surprise as he tried to jump out of the way, but soon ended up sliding down the roof and pulling the pipes down. “Shift! Gandalf! Yellow!” Gandalf tried to steady himself with his staff but was sucked in anyways and ended up on the roof. He pushed the object off and the slid down with Wyldstyle catching him. “All right, now to turn this thing off.” The instructions appeared on the view-screen again. Batman read them, then said “Shift Keystone, Deactivate!” The portals disappeared as we gathered the parts to make a trampoline to get up to the Keystone in the chimney. Batman got there first. It appeared to have a design with three different colored dots in the shape of a triangle. The topmost vertex was blue, the left was yellow, and the right was red with lines connecting them all. Batman was about to grab the new Keystone when a giant black box with red eyes and clawed hands came out of a portal and grabbed it first!
“A Micro-manager?!” yelped Wyldstyle.
“Hey!” snapped Batman to the one that stole the Keystone.
“Batman!” called Hongo as a Micro-manager grabbed him. We were all grabbed and taken to the sky. While we went up, the Micro-managers caused havoc in Springfield. Such examples were shooting one of Homer’s co-workers in the rear, setting fire to Krusty Burger with Krusty the Clown fleeing with his money, but not before putting up a sign saying “Now Flame Grilled”, setting the elementary school on fire, making Bart and his best friend, Milhouse, high five each other, tearing the town hall apart, making the Mayor run into a tree, shooting Chief Wiggum’s car with him being unaware of the chaos going on, and chasing Krusty, causing him to run into Marge and try to woo her, but end up getting tossed into the stratosphere.
“What the heck is going on!” snarled Batman as he tried to escape the grip of the Micro-manager holding him.
“I don’t know!” exclaimed Wyldstyle as a trio of Micro-managers entered a portal.
“If you want my opinion,” called a voice, “I’d say our careers just reached new heights!” Hiro came in on top of a Micro-manager. As we stared, he rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, not feeling that one either!”
“You put us down, now!” I shouted.
“Are you sure you want that?” asked Hiro.
“You heard her!” shouted Batman as he took out a Batarang. “Put us down!” He threw it at Hiro’s head, then it travelled to hit the hands of our respective Micro-managers. “Here we go again!” called Batman as gravity caught up to us. Hiro regained his balance and saw us fall.
“Oh, no you don’t!” he roared. He took his guns and pointed them at us after he loaded his i.d tag into them. “You won’t get away from me that easily! Henshin!” He fell into the red circle and became Kamen Rider Rogue.
“Rogue’s on our tail!” reported Lukas.
“Then we fight him once we find a decent platform!” I suggested.
“I see a massive Micro-manager!” called Wyldstyle.
“Then that’s where we fight him!” I said as I took out the i.d tag.
“Rider!” announced Hongo as his belt opened.
“HENSHIN!” we all called as we sped towards the giant Micro-manager. SWAT-bots then clambered on top as Hiro caught up to us. When we clashed, there was a massive brawl between us! Between all the punches and kicks, we managed to loosen a panel which raised a computer terminal. Swing pressed a button to broadcast a transmission coming from somewhere to all Micro-managers.
“The Foundation Element has been located,” reported the voice, making Wyldstyle widen her eyes in fear. “It’s in the nuclear power station in the hands of an employee.”
“System compromised,” came the computer voice of the Micro-manager’s computer. “Self-destruct initializing in 3, 2, 1.”
“Self…what?” gulped Gandalf. The Micro-manager exploded.
“Oddly enough, Hiro,” remarked Hiroki, “I don’t think that’s the entire plan!”
“Like I’d tell you!” snapped Hiro as he raised his guns and fired.
“Sengoku’s right,” called Batman as we dodged the shots, “that sounded like only part of the plan! We’ll need to hack more terminals to find out more!” We soon found another giant Micro-manager, you know, let’s call it a Macro-manager, and landed on its roof. More SWAT-bots came out and opened fire once we landed. Our capes morphed into shields as we took up positions, but we couldn’t effectively return fire. The only one who could was Kämpfer with his stylized crossbow. Thank goodness there’s no recoil on it. Arch wanted to fire, but he can’t exactly fire arrows with one hand. The rest of us only had melee weapons.
“Drat, we can’t fire back!” I hissed.
+INCORRECT STATEMENT+ countered my belt. +ALL WEAPONS CAN SWITCH FROM RANGED TO MELEE FORMS+
“What about those that need two hands to fire?!” snapped Arch.
+YOU DO NOT NEED TWO HANDS TO FIRE+ replied my belt. +THERE IS A BUTTON UNDER YOUR RIGHT POINTER FINGER+ Arch blinked under his helmet and looked at the bow. The button was small and red. He pointed the bow at the SWAT-bots and pressed the button. An energy shot pierced the metal of the robot.
“Merci beaucoup!” thanked Arch as he continued to return fire.
“Is there recoil on our weapons’ ranged mode?” I asked.
+NEGATIVE+ replied my belt.
“Then we’re going to have some fun!” I chuckled as I folded my sword into a rifle. We unleashed a volley of laser fire and raised a platform with a green tube with a satellite dish. A Micro-manager grabbed the dish in an attempt to stop our progress, but Batman pulled it down, destroying it and the tube, but a certain Master Builder made another terminal which started broadcasting more of the transmission.
“Do everything it takes to get hold of this employee, one Homer J… Sampson? …Sempson? …Sim…oh, whatever! JUST GET HIM!”
“That idiot broadcasted the plan to all Micro-managers?!” snapped Rogue.
“Second system compromised,” came the Macro-manager’s A.I. “Self-destruct initializing in T-minus 3, 2, 1. Detonation.” The Macro-manager blew up. A bit of free-fall later and we landed on another Macro-manager. This time, we had to take care of three Micro-managers shooting at us. Hunt then swapped her i.d tag for the Batman one.
“Batman steel!” announced her belt. Batman Steel came on as she swung a batarang at the Micro-managers, destroying them. The panel was removed by Gandalf’s magic and the terminal raised, but Rogue shot it.
“Not this time!” he snarled. He then took out a ball of some sort. It was blueish gray with a red dot in the center. “I summon you, Turretorg!” He threw the ball onto the floor where it melted, then grew, then formed an ugly shape. It was vaguely humanoid, had fur everywhere, had gun turrets on its shoulders and head, gun barrels for hands, cannons coming out of the mouth, and a gun on each knee.
“Turretorg, awaiting orders, sir!” said the monster.
“Slay those dolts!” ordered Rogue.
“I pledge obedience!” saluted Turretorg. He…she…it turned on us and unleashed a volley of fire. We took cover where we could.
“Another computer terminal must be inside,” called Wyldstyle. “If we can get in…”
“How do you propose we do that?!” I snapped. “We’re under heavy fire, in case you forgot!”
“But the grapple guns can reach pretty long,” remarked Wyldstyle.
“What’s that supposed to mean?!” I asked, exasperated.
“My scanner found two grapple hooks on either side of this thing’s roof,” explained Wyldstyle. She pointed them out to me. “We just need someone with Batman Steel.”
“Hunt!” I called, getting Hunt’s attention. “Tell Batman to fire a grapple gun at one of those hooks over there!”
“Got it!” she confirmed. She told Batman of the plan. Batman and Hunt then fired their grapple guns and pulled a couple of pylons out of the Macro-manager. The rear swung out and a green light glowed on Batman’s Keystone Gauntlet.
“What’s the green light for?” he asked.
+KEYSTONE TRANSMITTER IN VICINITY+ replied my belt.
“Clear a path for me!” called Batman. “I need to see where to place the portals!”
“Everyone, give Batman cover fire!” I shouted. We managed to separate Rogue and Turretorg and keep their attention on us while Batman got the lay of the land. The interior was set up in two levels, the lower of which had an electric dome over a terminal. The rear door had platforms underneath pipes that begged to be disconnected.
“Shift Keystone, Activate!” announced Batman. “Cyan, over rear most platform! Yellow, on roof of Macro-manager! Magenta, near electric dome!” The portals appeared. Gandalf had jumped inside the Macro-manager to undo a pipe on the door. It weakened the electro-dome around the terminal. Gandalf got an idea.
“Batman!” shouted Gandalf. “Get me into the Cyan portal!”
“What?!” yelped Batman.
“Trust me!” assured Gandalf. Batman shrugged but complied.
“Shift! Gandalf! Cyan!” This time, Gandalf was ready. He allowed himself to be sucked in and ended up on the farthest platform on the door. He then used his magic to undo two more pipes. The electro-dome disappeared and Batman decided to try something. “Shift! All in vicinity! Magenta!” he commanded. Everyone got sucked into the magenta portal. And when I say “everybody”, I mean everybody. Perhaps Batman should have specified his targets. Everyone tumbled into the second level of the Macro-manager. It became a firefight between us and Rogue and the monster. We surrounded the terminal as I switched it on.
“Once we have the artefact, we move back,” came the transmission. “Utilize the Asset and his secret weapon if there’s any resistance.”
“Hm,” mused Batman. “There may be trouble ahead.”
“Proximity alert,” came the computer. “Emergency Landing incoming. Raise in altitude suggested.” Batman continued looking at the terminal.
“This says that we’re heading towards Springfield Nuclear Power Plant,” he reported. The Macro-manager started shaking.
“And that, I assume,” I gulped, “was our brakes?”
“Yep,” replied Batman.
“Master, we must fall back!” called Turretorg.
“No!” snarled Rogue. “We give our lives to eliminating them!”
“This is a suicide mission!” argued Turretorg. “There’s no honor in this! We must retreat so we can claim the Foundation Element more quickly!” Rogue considered this.
“You’ve successfully swayed me,” he sighed. He opened a portal. “We’ll regroup in the main building. Fall back!”
“I pledge obedience!” saluted Turretorg as it followed him into the portal. Meanwhile we tried to control our ride, but to no avail.
“Guys, if we don’t make it out,” I called, “it was an honor serving with you!”
“The pleasure’s all ours, my lady!” replied Guard. We crashed into the main building.