Ultimate Origins: Chapter Fifteen
The five rangers crouched on a Tokyo rooftop at night. They looked down into a dark alley towards a small curry shop on the corner.
“That’s seriously where Section 31 is hiding out?” Justin asked.
“What did you expect?” Blake asked. “Flashing neon signs?”
“That would have been a nice change of pace,” Justin said. “You think maybe our next clue will take us to Vegas?”
“Doubtful,” Simon said. He turned his focus back to the task at hand. “If Shingen’s information is correct, the entrance is that side door in the alley.” He looked to his friend. “You sure you’re ready for this?”
Justin nodded. “As ready as I’ll ever be,” he said. “Besides, we don’t even know for sure my dad is with these people.”
“OK,” Simon said. “Let’s-”
They heard a gun click and looked over their shoulders. A man dressed in a dark suit pointed his handgun towards Simon’s head. The other rangers would have pounced to attack, but the red dots of sniper rifles shined on them from the shadows.
“OK…” Simon said as he slowly turned around. “This doesn’t have to get messy. We just came to talk.”
“We know exactly why you came,” the man said. “We’ve been watching you since you arrived in Tokyo. Well…technically, before you even left the States, but that’s beside the point.”
The man looked to Justin and slowly lowered his gun. “Hello, son.”
Armed guards escorted the rangers into the Section 31 safe house, and the teens didn’t resist. The guards led the group down a dimly-lit stairwell and into a corridor lined with pale, fluorescent lights. The concrete floor was cracked, and the walls dripped with leaks from the broken plumbing above.
“Nice place,” Blake said.
Rachel nudged him in the ribs, and he said nothing more.
Justin’s father, Matthew Stewart, lead the group towards a door on the side of the hallway. He turned to Justin, who could not look the man in the eyes.
“Your friends will have to wait outside,” Stewart said. “But we can talk in here.”
“Whatever…” Justin muttered.
Stewart led Justin into a small room and closed the door behind them. The room was small, with a single table and two chairs, like a police interrogation room.
“Sorry for all the guards,” Stewart said as he took a seat. “It wasn’t my call. The brass still gets paranoid whenever we have company. They think every visitor we get is a pinko-commie-Muslim-hippie.”
Justin narrowed his eyes. “What the hell?”
Stewart waved to the chair. “I don’t suppose you’ll sit?”
“What the fucking hell?”
“OK, that’s a no,” Stewart said. The man sighed and leaned back. He looked young for his years, with only a hint of gray in his short, black hair. With his features, he could have passed for his early 30’s or early 50’s depending on the need. Perfect spy material. “Look, this isn’t easy for me either. If it means anything, I would have come to you years ago if I had a choice. You and your sister. But I’ve been-”
“No,” Justin said as he shook his head. “I didn’t even want to come here. When I heard you were still alive? It didn’t make me happy. I didn’t want to come running to you and make things right and blah, blah, blah. None of that. I’m only here because you have information my best friend needs.”
“Well…” Stewart said. “That’s a start, I guess. What do you want to know?”
“I need to know about Section 31,” Justin said.
“That’s not very specific,” Stewart said.
“Now I see where I get my sarcasm from,” Justin said. “And why so many people find it annoying.”
Stewart smirked. “They do, huh?”
“Tell me about Section 31,” Justin said. “Capt. Mitchell told us Time Force tried to kill Battle Fever J after you guys attacked that Energy Well.”
“They did,” Stewart said. He didn’t seem surprised Justin knew about Battle Fever J. Capt. Mitchell had obviously given the man a head’s up. “But even people from the future know how to make a deal. They let us live. In exchange, we simply had to drop off the grid. Time needed us dead, so we ‘died’ about 10 years later. They didn’t see any danger in giving us the extra time, and it gave us an opportunity to help clean up the mess left behind by the Egos.”
“Wait…” Justin said. “So you met mom and had me, and had Erika, knowing you’d have to walk out on us?”
Stewart lowered his gaze. “I wouldn’t expect you to understand. I guess I hoped Time Force would never return to make us go through with it. But they did. I made the mistake of telling Erika’s mother. This…well, it messed things up. Time Force made me take her with me.”
“Wait, you mean she’s still alive too?” Justin asked. “This is messed up! Erika thinks she’s parentless, and you’ve both been alive this whole time!” He hesitated. “What about…what about my mom?”
“She died during childbirth,” Stewart said. “That part’s true.”
Justin shook his head. He tightened his hands into fists and pushed away the pain. “OK, I can’t do this now. Not this messed-up family stuff.”
“I understand. If you need time-”
“No,” Justin said. “I promised my friend I’d help, so I’m helping. So…what happened during those 10 years?”
“Like I said, we helped clean up the mess made by the Egos,” Stewart explained. “Besides Hydra and the Technomancer Organization, they’d infiltrated a group called the Gorgom Syndicate. Of course, infiltrate may be the wrong word. Egos actually organized from the remnants of the Gorgom.”
The ball didn’t look like a gathering of evil minds hell-bent on dominating the world. But it was. The brightest and wealthiest figures in Tokyo gathered in a massive ballroom and mingled among tables of food, beneath chandlers that sparkled with light. They dressed in tuxedos and dresses, and drank wine while nibbling on pieces of cheese.
They were the Gorgom Syndicate.
Stewart and Mitchell moved among them. Being American, they would have stood out if not for others in the room from parts of Europe and Russia- though the Japanese were in the clear majority.
“This is crazy,” Stewart said to Mitchell. “Do we really think this cult is going to unveil some top-secret weapon here? At a freaking ball?”
“Yes,” Mitchell said. “We do.”
Stewart sighed. “You’re impossible.”
“I know,” Mitchell said. “Have you seen the others?”
Stewart nodded. Their three teammates from Battle Fever J were also in the ballroom. “We’re all here. I just wish we had a better plan for what to do next.”
“We wait,” Mitchell said.
“Wait for what?” Stewart asked. “It’s not like they’re going to get up and announce-”
A man towards the center of the gathering dinged his glass to get everyone’s attention. He wore the white sash of a priest over his tuxedo. His real name no longer had meaning- in the halls of the Gorgom, they called him Priest Darom.
“My friends, my family,” Darom said. “Let us delay this evening no longer. You know why we are all gathered here today. We have found them…after decades, we have found the King Stones.”
The crowd clapped with genuine enthusiasm.
“The King Stones…I don’t have to tell you what this means…”
“What’s that mean?” Justin asked. “What was so big about the King Stones?”
“Ask your friend Simon,” Stewart said. “He met the people who used the stones. Well…a few of them, at least. There were actually five King Stones, each the source of a Kamen Rider power. The Gorgom’s two stones made Kamen Rider Black and Shadow Moon back in 2001. The Gorgom planned for Kamen Rider Black and Shadow Moon to fight, and the victor would be their new leader.”
“That was in 2001? Why wait so long to use the things?” Justin asked.
“For being a people of science, the Gorgom had this irrational fear of a cult-like prophecy,” Stewart explained.
“Let me guess,” Justin said. “The Dragon.”
Stewart nodded. “They knew about the prophecy of your mentor Tommy ending pretty much everything in existence. By the way, thank him for not doing that, when you get a chance.”
“I’ll do that,” Justin said. “So the stones…”
“According to prophecy, they had to wait until just the right time, for just the right people, to use the stones. They eventually found two boys born on the same day, the day of an eclipse,” Stewart said. “But we’re really getting off on a tangent. We didn’t know what the stones were at the time. We just knew they were bad, and not every Gorgom wanted to wait to use their power.”
The ballroom exploded inward. Concrete and shattered glass rained on the guests. They screamed and ran for cover, some ducking beneath tables. Through the opening of the explosion walked the Gorgom cultist Jun, whose followers called him Brugenia.
“Run and hide, cowards,” Jun said.
“Jun!” Darom shouted.
“I know my name, you fat slob.”
Jun and his followers pulled guns from their suits and started shooting at the party guests.
“Jun!” Darom shouted. “Stop! STOP!”
The men stopped shooting as Jun laughed. The villain aimed his gun at Darom, but Darom did not flinch.
“Why, Jun?” Darom asked. “You foolish, foolish boy.”
“Why?” Jun asked. “We have the King Stones here. Now. Why wait to use them? To follow some childish prophecy that ends with the world blowing itself up? What sense is that? I was born on the day of a solar eclipse. That’s close enough to your stupid prophecy. Give me the stones, and we’ll throw off the doomsday scenario you and your little priests are so afraid of.”
“You have no right to use them,” Darom said. “You’re not chosen.”
“Oh, I’m not? Really?” Jun ripped open his shirt. Strands of black webbing had grown from his skin and wrapped around his chest. It appeared as if the webbing was grasping him, pulling down at his lower neck.
“Jun…you idiot!” Darom shouted. “It’s too early. It’s not time for us to take the Great Step in evolution. We…”
“Piss off!” Jun shouted. “Dr. Kuromatsu started the process. It’s not complete, yet I already have the strength of more than 10 men. He made me the first to take the Great Step. And the rest of the Gorgom will fall in line. Others already have.”
“The Gorgom will not come to power until the turn of the new millennium,” Darom said.
“Do you hear yourself?” Jun asked. “We will come to power now!”
Stewart and Mitchell regrouped beneath a table as Darom and Jun continued arguing.
“See, this is why we needed a better plan,” Stewart said.
“We couldn’t have expected this,” Mitchell said. “Besides, this is just the distraction we need.”
“I don’t think this is something we need,” Stewart said.
“Let them fight it out,” Mitchell said. “Let them kill each other, for all I care. Everyone here who hasn’t been shot is scurrying towards the nearest exits. Let’s blend in with them and make it to the basement. Come on.”
“The stones were gone by the time we reached the vault in the basement,” Stewart said.
“How?” Justin asked.
“Stolen,” Stewart said. “By the Ikkazuchi.”
“The Ikkazuchi?” Justin asked.
“Don’t be so surprised. Same country,” Stewart said. “Jun needed assassins and thieves, and the Ikkazuchi provided. After he attacked the ballroom and stole the King Stones, he fell back into Tokyo, where he planned to lead the Gorgom Syndicate. Half the Syndicate aligned with him. The other half didn’t. But it only took a few days for Jun to gain complete control of both factions. He had Dr. Kuromatsu on his side, the guy who could make all the Gorgom mutants. Jun became recognized as the true leader of the Gorgom. The Syndicate eventually changed its mind and trapped him in suspended animation for 15 years, but that’s not relevant.
“Before that, we tracked Jun back to his high-rise in Tokyo. Our mission was to break in and get the King Stones. Since the Ikkazuchi were involved, we had some unexpected help from the locals.”
“The Hayate Way?” Justin asked.
Stewart nodded. “They only sent one Harrikenjaa,” he said. “We never learned his name or saw him beneath his mask, but he couldn’t have been more than 12. We were kind of insulted until we learned how good he was.”
The Section 31 heliship flew through the night sky of Tokyo. The craft approached a large dark skyscraper in the middle of the city. The tower belonged to the Gorgom.
Stewart and Mitchell sat in the ship alongside their three teammates. They wore their Battle Fever J armor. Each suit of armor was a mesh of dull-gray plating over durable material that looked like black fabric. The helmets had grated mouthpieces and slits for visors. Each suit of armor had a disc on the left side of the chest, and each disc had the symbol of a different country: America, Japan, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.
Stewart wore the Battle America armor, and Mitchell wore the Battle Cossack armor.
The Harrikenjaa stood at the open drop door of the heliship and looked towards the skyscraper. He wore a black, red-trimmed ninja uniform. His mask covered his face except for his eyes, which were covered by the shadow of his hood. He wore the H-shaped insignia of the Hayate Way on the left side of his chest.
“Asoko,” he said. “Their tower is ahead. You gaijin are even more foolish than I thought, with your frontal assault.”
“Got a better idea?” Mitchell asked.
“I never said I was complaining,” the Harrikenjaa said.
“Incoming!” the heliship pilot shouted.
“Incoming?” Stewart asked. “How-”
An explosion rocked the heliship, whipping the craft into a tailspin. The force pinned Stewart against the side of the bay and knocked the Harrikenjaa off his feet.
The ninja somehow landed in a crouched position on the wall of the bay, facing the door, as the force of the spin pushed him back.
“Ganbatte!” he shouted.
The Harrikenjaa shot through the bay door like a bullet and angled his trajectory towards the Gorgom skyscraper. The ninja fired a grappling hook that connected with the skyscraper and reeled him towards the building.
Below, the heliship crashed against the street, spinning, while skidding towards the building. Metal sparked against pavement with a screeching sound as the ship skid to a halt near the front-lobby doors.
Stewart and the rest of the Battle Fever J team stumbled from the wreckage. They looked towards the Gorgom building just in time to see dozens of Ikkazuchi ninja fan out from the lobby. They wore black ninja uniforms and masks, trimmed with either crimson or navy. Each wore the lightning-bolt symbol of the Ikkazuchi on their chest.
“Call me crazy,” Stewart said. “But I think they were expecting us.”
The ninja pounced forward and hurled volleys of throwing stars at the agents. The rangers dove aside and rolled across the ground as the throwing blades sparked against their armor.
Stewart rolled into a crouched fighting stance and pulled out his blaster. He swung the weapon through a wide arc while firing rapid rounds that shot through the ninja with bursts of blood of shattered bone.
A ninja leapt towards Steward and chopped a blade towards the agent’s head. Stewart blocked the blow with his armguard and bashed his gun across the ninja’s head. He lifted his weapon and fired another volley that tore through three ninja who leapt towards him.
“Move!” Battle Japan shouted from nearby. The soldier carried a longknife in one hand and a blaster in the other.
Battle Japan kicked a ninja back, slashed his blade through another ninja’s head, and swung his gun to shoot a ninja in the face at point-blank range.
The agent dashed towards the building, blaster blazing and mowing down ninja after ninja, their blood and muscle tissue spraying across the pavement.
Battle Japan shattered through the glass wall of the lobby, rolled across the ground, and rolled into a crouched position while swinging his gun and shooting down five ninja.
His teammates moved in from behind, blasting through ninja, hacking through their limbs and bodies, and cutting them down with blade boomerangs.
The last ninja crumbled to the ground, his head rolling from his body.
“OK,” Battle Japan said. “We’re going to have to improvise. Take-”
The rear wall of the lobby burst open with a cloud of concrete and debris. A Gorgom creature charged from the opening. The creatures leathery hide and boney horns resembled a rhino. Its name was Sai Kaijin, the Rhino Mutant.
Stewart reloaded his sidearm. “You guys go ahead,” Stewart said. “I’ll hold off Horny.”
“You’re insane,” Mitchell said.
“Of course I am,” Stewart said. “No sane person would be friends with you. You’re kind of an ass. Now go.”
“Come on,” Battle Japan said. “There’s no time for arguing. Move.”
Battle Japan, Battle France, Battle Britain and Mitchell dashed towards the elevators at the other end of the lobby, and Stewart stood to face the Gorgom mutant.
The mutant roared and charged forward.
Stewart armed his gun and fired rapid-volley shots. The bullets sparked against the Rhino Mutant, but the creature continued its charge.
Stewart dove aside as the rhino charged past him. The agent rolled to his feet and swung his blaster back towards the creature, opening fire with rounds that sparked against the mutant’s thick hide.
The rhino roared with anger and lunged towards Stewart with its horn pointed forward.
Stewart braced himself for a blow that never came. The Harrikenjaa leapt through the air and tackled Stewart aside. They rolled to safety as the rhino stomped past them.
“Bakka,” the Harrikenjaa said. “I can see that you’re truly a product of your country’s educational system.”
“That’s not funny,” Stewart said as he rose to his feet.
“It really is,” the Harrikenjaa said.
“How the hell did you get down here?” Stewart asked.
“I fought,” the Harrikenjaa said. “Your friends won’t have many ninja to worry about on their way towards their target.”
The rhino charged again, and Stewart snapped a pair of blade boomerangs from his gauntlets. The blades sparked against the creature’s horn.
“OK, new plan.” Stewart planted his feet firmly in place and leaned forward.
The Harrikenjaa shook his head in disbelief. “Konjo nashi…”
The rhino charged towards Stewart and slammed against his body, but Stewart stood his ground and grabbed hold of the creature’s horn. The impact nearly knocked him off his feet as he skid across the floor. But he stood his ground.
“There, that’s much better.”
Stewart slammed a roundkick against the creature’s side and bashed an elbow against the creature’s head, all while keeping his grip on the horn.
The Rhino Mutant whipped his head back and forth, whipping Stewart off his feet and snapping him around, but the agent kept hold.
Stewart armed a longknife from his gauntlet and jammed the blade through the creature’s ear with a burst of spark. The creature howled with pain and whipped Stewart away like a rag doll. Stewart hit the ground hard and skid across the floor.
On his back, he armed his gun and fired high-yield rounds that sparked against the creature’s head, dropping the monster to the ground. The mutant crashed to its side, convulsed, and then stopped moving.
“Hayaku,” the Harrikenjaa said. “He’s only unconscious. We have to move.”
“Just unconscious?” Stewart asked with disbelief. “I stabbed a knife in his freaking head!”
“Yes, well...I’m sure that must have tickled,” the Harrikenjaa said. “Now, hayakusiro.”
“The mission was an amazing failure,” Stewart said. “By the time I caught up with the others, the Gorgom had fallen back, and they took the King Stones with them. They went into hiding after that and stayed low-key until 2001.”
Justin had an odd feeling about the Harrikenjaa his father described. “So this Harrikenjaa who helped you…this guy cracked jokes and spoke phrases in Japanese?”
“Yes…” Stewart said. “But I’m not sure why that’s important. Most Japanese people I met spoke Japanese. Weird, I know.”
“That’s not funny,” Justin said. “Well, maybe it’s a little funny. But still. I think that guy you met might be Shurikenger. He started off as a Harrikenjaa, and he knew about Simon’s dad. He’s the one who gave Simon the ring.
“An Egos ring,” Justin said.
“Well…” Stewart said. “That’s…interesting.”
“What?” Justin asked.
“It could be nothing…” Stewart said. “But the five of us each wore Egos rings during that Op. The rings were part of our cover disguises.”
“So…Simon’s dad could have been…any of you.”
“No,” Stewart said. “No, no. Not Mitchell. And definitely not me.”
“OK, then the other three,” Justin said. “Battle Japan, Britain, or France. Who were they?”
“I don’t know,” Stewart said. “We only knew each other by our codenames.”
“OK…so which one was the pretty blonde?” Justin asked.
Stewart arced an eyebrow. “I’m not sure how to answer that question.”
Justin shook his head. “Well, what happened to them? Are they still alive too?”
“They died on our last mission,” Stewart said. “Well, our last mission before dropping off the grid.”
“Died died or you-and-Capt. Mitchell ‘died’?”
“Died,” Stewart said. “They were killed. By the Hellfire Club.”
To be continued…Chapter 16