Chapter 43: Kamen Rider Blade

Demon Shift: Reflections

 

Benjamin lost himself in thought as he rode through the streets of Angel Grove. He wanted to find the Last King and seal him. But doing so would leave Joker as the last Undead standing. This apparently put the whole world in jeopardy, according to the various warnings of Dr. Sarc, Tennoji and even the Human Undead.

 

Still, he couldn’t let the Last King remain at large. Especially since he carried the Fifth Ace, the card of the Kerberos Undead.

 

I’ll find him first, he thought. Then I’ll figure out what to do…

 

Suddenly, tremors shook the earth, and an eclipse blotted out the sun. Benjamin nearly lost control of his cycle and skid the vehicle to a halt.

 

He stood from his bike, removed his helmet and looked up. “What in…”

 

A teleportation beam cut a path across the street in front of him. From the beam stepped dozens of wolven creatures called wolfmen, soldiers of the Lord Zedd from Demon World Earth. 

 

Benjamin knitted his brow. “Undead?”

 

The wolves pounced at Benjamin as he dove aside. The rider rolled to his knees and armed his belt.

 

“Transform!” He flipped the buckler’s card slot. “TURN UP”

 

The buckler emitted an energy field, and he ran through the field while transforming into his armor.

 

The wolfmen pounced at Garren. He dodged their claws, armed his blaster, and opened fire.

 

His bullets tore through wolfmen with bursts of spark that whipped their bodies backward.

 

***

 

Nicolas leaned back on a grassy hill. He lay alongside Nikki, next to the picnic basket lunch they had shared.

 

She smiled at him. “I haven’t seen you this relaxed in over a year.”

 

“It’s been a long year,” he said.

 

“So what now?” she asked. “Are your ‘Riding’ days over?”

 

Nicolas shook his head. “I don’t know. The Giraffe Undead’s still out there with the Fifth Ace. And Zayden’s still…Zayden.”

 

“Why can’t you just leave them both alone?” Nikki asked.

 

“We tried…” Nicolas said with regret in his voice.

 

Suddenly, the earth shook, and an eclipse blotted out the sun.

 

Nicolas and Nikki stood as they looked to the sky.

 

“I’ve lived here long enough to know that’s not good…” Nicolas said.

 

A teleportation beam splashed onto the hillside, revealing a group of three Saima monsters from Demon World Earth.

 

Nicolas stood between Nikki and the monsters. “Nikki, run…”

 

“But Nicolas-”

 

“Go!” he shouted as he armed his buckler. The belt wrapped around his waist.

 

“Transform!” he shouted as he flipped the buckler open. “OPEN UP”

 

An energy field slid over him and activated his armor.

 

Kamen Rider Leangle twirled his staff into a fighting stance and charged to attack the Saima.

 

***

 

Ken stood at the window with his arms crossed over his chest. Zayden sat on the couch nearby, and Megan sat at her desk, waiting for the Undead tracker to show any sign of the Last King.

 

Bobby walked into the room carrying a tray of drinks. “I brought beverages,” he said. “Try to keep them off the wall, Ken.”

 

“That happened one time,” Ken said.

 

“One time too many,” Bobby said as he set the tray on the coffee table.

 

Megan sighed as she leaned back. “Thanks, Bobby…”

 

“You’re welcome,” he said. “It’s nice to be appreciated…Anything new?”

 

Ken shook his head. “No. And I’m starting to think that may be a good thing. At least for now…”

 

Megan nodded in agreement. “We’re not even sure what to do when we find the Last King.”

 

Bobby shrugged. “Seal him?”

 

Ken glanced at Zayden. “We don’t know what would happen…”

 

“The Joker would take over,” Zayden said. “Completely.”

 

Suddenly, the house shook, and an eclipse blotted out the sun. Ken narrowed his eyes and looked towards the skies. “What the…”

 

Below, several black SUVs pulled up to Bobby’s home. Silver Guardian soldiers filed from the vehicles and escorted the man who recruited Ken as a Rider: Dr. William “Billy” Cranston.

 

“Guys, we have company,” Ken said.

 

Ken hurried outside, and the others followed. They met Dr. Cranston just outside the front door.

 

“You…” Ken said.

 

“Ken,” Cranston said. “You look well.”

 

“What are you doing here?” Ken asked.

 

“I need to speak with you,” Cranston said. “Can we go inside?”

 

“No,” Ken said.

 

Cranston sighed. “You don’t trust me.”

 

“Your INET organization let the Undead loose…” Ken said.

 

“That was Tennoji and Sarc. I had nothing to do with it,” Cranston lied.

 

“Why don’t I believe you…?” Ken asked. 

 

Zayden grew increasingly tense as he stared at Dr. Cranston. He knitted his brow and rolled his right hand into a fist.

 

“Ken…” Zayden said, his voice calm despite his appearance. “Step away from that man.”

 

“You can relax, Zayden,” Cranston said. “The one who created you? Created the Joker? I’m not him. That was my counterpart…the one responsible for the tremor and eclipse.”

 

Ken knitted his brow. “What are you talking about?”

 

“Let’s go inside,” Cranston said. “I’ll explain everything. But we have to hurry…”

 

***

 

Silver Guardian SUV sirens blared through the darkened streets.

 

Ninja-clad Youkai grunts called Dorodoro slammed against the vehicles and knocked them over. The SUVs crashed and skid, smashing against one another.

 

A trio of SPD vehicles sped to the scene from behind the SUVs. The vehicles skid to a halt, and Nat’s team filed onto the street.

 

The six officers armed their morphers.

 

“SPD! Emergency!”

 

“Emergency! DECA Break!”

 

They morphed into their armor and charged to attack — but they didn’t get far.

 

Explosions sparked around them and whipped them off their feet. They crashed and skid across the pavement.

 

DECA Green shook his head as he pushed himself up. “I do recall mentioning this would be a better job for Jet Force.”

 

“Come on, Bridge,” DECA Red said as they stood. “These are just grunts.”

 

“Grunts?” a voice growled from behind. They looked to see a cloaked figure stalk towards them. “I see you humans are just as foolish in this reality as mine.”

 

The stranger dropped his hood to reveal the twisted face of the Rangers’ mentor: Kruger. The Kruger of Demon World Earth wore a red eye piece. Burns and cuts scarred his face and head, shaved of all fur. The villain carried a twisted saber, a version of D-Sword Vega.

 

DECA Pink shook her head with disbelief. “Commander Kruger?”

 

Hmph.” Kruger snarled with amusement. “I haven’t heard that name in a long time. They call me the Dog of Hell.”

 

Kruger surged forward faster that sight. He dashed past the Rangers while slashing their armor with bursts of spark, knocking them aside one-by-one.

 

The villain skid to a halt and lifted his sword over his shoulder. “I’ve hunted human scum like you for years…and I must say, I expected more of a fight. You’re weak willed, nothing like the humans on my world. Make no mistake, they’re worms too, just like you. But they at least knew how to fight for their survival.”

 

DECA Red rolled his hands into fists and climbed to his feet. “Take him. Formation Six.”

 

The Red Ranger pulled out his D-Magnums and fired high-yield rounds, as DECA Green and DECA Blue leapt through the air with their D-Batons.

 

Kruger slashed the Red Ranger’s blasts from the air with bursts of spark. The Green Ranger and Blue Ranger angled their decent towards the villain. But Kruger swung upward with a wide slashed that whipped the Rangers backward.

 

DECA Yellow and DECA Pink charged towards Kruger while firing their D-Blasters. But Kruger spun with a wide slash that sparked against their armor and knocked them backward.

 

DECA Break leapt through the air with a flying punch. But Kruger leapt over the Ranger and slashed his back, knocking him to the ground.

 

Kruger landed while chopping the Red Ranger with a burst of spark that whipped him off his feet.

 

The villain growled with laughter. “Pathetic.”

 

“Laugh while you can,” a voice said from the other end of the street. The Kruger of Demon World Earth looked to see the real Kruger walk onto the scene.

 

Commander Kruger pulled out his morpher. “I won’t let an abomination like you stop SPD.”

 

The evil Kruger laughed. “Do you hear yourself? Is this really what I sound like on this world?”

 

“I’m nothing like you,” the real Kruger said.

 

“No…I’m the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy. And you? You’re dog meat.”

 

“We’ll see,” Kruger said as he armed his morpher. “Emergency! DECA Shadow!”

 

***

 

Kamen Rider Garren bashed the handle of his weapon against a wolfman’s head. He swung the gun and triggered bursts of bullets that blasted through several grunts.

 

Three wolfmen leapt at his back and clawed his armor. The Rider snapped around and knocked them aside with punches and point-blank shots from his blaster. 

 

Another wave of wolfmen surged towards Kamen Rider Garren. But a blur of motion dashed past them while slashing them aside with massive bursts of spark. Giraffe Undead skid to a halt, holding his pincer-like blades.

 

“Garren…” the Undead said. “Couldn’t handle a pack of dogs?”

 

“Category King…” Garren said as he lifted his blaster.

 

“Is this really the time for us to be fighting?” Giraffe Undead asked. “This VOLT organization betrayed me. I want them stopped as much as you.”

 

“VOLT?” Garren asked.

 

The Undead sighed. “You know nothing. Do you?”

 

“I know I’m not letting you walk away,” Garren said. “Not this time.”

 

“So what, then?” the Undead asked. “You plan to seal me? What about your friend…Joker? Do you really want to give him the power to destroy the world?”

 

Garren hesitated and lowered his blaster ever so slightly.

 

The Giraffe Undead took advantage of the uncertainty and lunged at the Rider. The monster slashed relentlessly with massive chops and hacks that sparked against Garren and forced him several steps backward.

 

The Undead swung both blades through a wide arc, and the swords slashed Garren and hurled him through the air.

 

Kamen Rider Garren crashed against the ground and tumbled aside.

 

Quickly, the Rider rolled to his knees and opened the card fan on his blaster. He pulled out three cards: the Five of Diamonds labeled with a whale, the Six of Diamonds labeled with a firefly and the Nine of Diamonds labeled with a zebra. He slid the cards one-by-one through his blaster. “DROP; FIRE; GEMINI.”

 

The Rider aimed his blaster and fired at the Undead. His bullets sparked against the Undead to keep the monster back, as three cards of energy projected from his blaster and splashed across his armor.

 

Garren sprang through the air, somersaulted forward, and extended both legs as his feet radiated with fiery energy. He split in two, creating an energy duplicate of himself. The two Garrens swung dropkicks at the Undead.

 

But Giraffe Undead swung wide, shattering the energy duplicate, and slashing Garren from the air with a burst of spark.

 

***

 

Saima beasts surrounded Leangle and charged faster than he could slash them aside. He swung and stabbed his staff with quick and powerful strikes, sparking through the beasts, but he could barely keep them at bay.

 

He cursed himself for his weakness. If only he could shift into a Jack or King form.

 

Explosions suddenly tore across the hillside, tossing the Rider and monsters through the air.

 

Leangle crashed and tumbled down the hill. Slowly, he rolled to a stop and climbed to his knees while leaning on his staff for support.

 

shin-kr-shinHe looked up to see a Rider-looking creature stalk down the hill. This Rider appeared completely organic, tinted shades of dark yellow and green, with bug-like eyes. The people of Demon World Earth called him Kamen Rider Shin, one of the early creations of the Dark Shaper.

 

Shin sprang forward, somersaulted through the air and bashed his feet against Leangle, smashing the Rider to the ground. The evil Rider leaned down and punched Leangle’s helmet with quick and savage blows.

 

Leangle lifted his staff and knocked the evil Rider aside.

 

Kamen Rider rolled to his knees and pulled two cards from his belt holster: The Nine of Clubs labeled with the Squid Undead and the Two of Clubs labeled with the Bee Undead. He swiped the cards through the slit on his staff: “SMOG; STAB”

 

The Rider thrust his staff and fired a burst of smog that surrounded Shin, catching the villain off guard. Leangle lunged and stabbed his weapon towards the evil Rider’s gut.

 

Shin caught the staff, twisted it aside, and kicked Leangle’s helmet with enough force to whip the Rider off his feet.

 

***

 

“Demon World Earth?” Bobby asked with disbelief. “Seriously, you expect us to believe this is all because of some whack-job nutcase version of you from a place called Demon World Earth?”

 

Cranston sighed and looked to Ken. “Can we talk alone?”

 

Bobby knitted his brow. “This is my house!”

 

“Bobby…” Ken said as he placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “It’s okay…”

 

“Believe what you will,” Cranston said. “The truth is an invasion’s happening. And you can see the enemy’s world with your own eyes.”

 

“And if we don’t stop it…” Megan said, her brow knitted with concentration as she processed the former Ranger’s story. “Our worlds will merge.”

 

“And be destroyed,” Cranston said. “The Dark Shaper’s plan won’t work. He can’t merge the two planets. He’ll cause a chain reaction that will wipe out both realities.”

 

“How do we stop him?” Ken asked.

 

“All my forces are spread through the city, fighting these monsters from Demon World Earth,” Cranston said. “I need you and Chalice to storm the VOLT fortress.”

 

“‘Zayden,’” Ken said. “His name is Zayden.”

 

Cranston nodded. “Okay…Zayden. Either way, I need both of you.”

 

“And we’re just supposed to trust you?” Ken asked.

 

“You don’t have to trust me,” Cranston said. “But ask yourself who you trust less: Me, or the man spilling an army from a demon world into your city.”

 

Ken sighed and nodded reluctantly. “Fair enough.”

 

***

 

The VOLT fortress hovered over Angel Grove North and stabbed an energy beam into the sky. The beam latched onto Demon World Earth and pulled the planet slowly through a portal in space.

 

Kamen Rider Blade used the wings of his Jack Form, and Chalice used his “Float” card, to fly to the fortress.

 

Once inside, they powered down their armor and moved through the darkened corridors.

 

Ken shook his head as they hurried towards the center of the ship. “This is just a little outside my comfort zone…”

 

Zayden nodded, saying nothing.

 

Ken looked to his friend and arced an eyebrow. “What is it?”

 

“The Category King…” Zayden said. “He’s fighting…”

 

“Benjamin,” Ken said.

 

Zayden nodded.

 

Ken sighed with concern. “We can’t worry about that now. One problem at a time.”

 

“If he seals the Final King…” Zayden started to say.

 

“You’ll be okay,” Ken said, just as much to convince himself as Zayden.

 

The ship shook with a violent tremor that nearly knocked the riders off their feet. They leaned against the walls to keep their balance, and the ship shook again.

 

“We have to hurry…” Ken said as they moved forward.

 

Suddenly, explosions tore through the narrow corridor and hurled the riders backward. They rolled across the floor and quickly stood while arming their belts.

 

New Bitmap Image (2)From ahead walked Zeltron, a member the Dark Shaper’s robotic army. He wore bulky plates of gray armor over a lighter suit of orange and black stripes. Thick gauntlets covered his hands.

 

From behind walked Insectatron, a white-armored robot with a bug-like visor.  

 

Zayden stood and pulled the Two of Hearts from his belt.

 

“Go,” he said to Ken.

 

“No way,” Ken said. “You can’t take them both by-”

 

Zeltron thrust his fists, which fired volleys of small missiles.

 

Zayden stood in front of the missiles and swiped his card through his buckler: “CHANGE”

 

His body rippled and transformed into Chalice. He quickly armed his bow and sliced the missiles apart with bursts of spark and flame; the shockwaves knocked him several steps backward.

 

Ken slid his card into his buckler and flipped it: “TURN UP”

 

The buckler emitted a blue energy field, and Ken charged through the field while transforming into Kamen Rider Blade.

 

He unsheathed his sword and slashed Zeltron with a burst of spark. He pressed forward, slashing and striking the robotic monster with all his strength. 

 

Zeltron swung the back of his fist towards Blade’s head. But Blade dodged and sliced the monster’s gut with a burst of spark.

 

Kamen Rider Chalice twirled his bow into a fighting stance and charged towards Insectatron. The Rider slashed towards the bot. But the bot dodged with moves like a wrestler, and managed to grab Chalice in a headlock.

 

Insectatron tightened his hold and kicked the legs out from Chalice, forcing him to his knees.

 

Blade looked over his shoulder. “Zayden!”

 

Zeltron punched Blade’s chest with a burst of spark, knocking him several steps backward.

 

The Rider pulled the Three of Spades from his saber’s holster and slid the card through the weapon’s slit: “BEAT”

 

Kamen Rider Blade lunged and swung an energized punch. The attack bashed Zeltron, knocking the bot off its feet.

 

Blade pulled the Four of Spades from his holster and slid the card through his saber: “TACKLE”

 

The Rider sprang towards Insectatron and tackled the bot against the wall, knocking him away from Chalice.

 

Chalice climbed slowly to his feet just as Zeltron recovered and closed in from behind.

 

Kamen Rider Chalice turned and quickly slashed Zeltron with a series of strikes, forcing the bot several steps backward.

 

Again, the fortress shook, knocking the four combatants off balance as they staggered through the corridor.

 

Blade nearly fell and dropped his sword. Insectatron took advantage; the bot kneed Blade in the gut, grabbed him in a headlock, and smashed his head against the wall.

 

Kamen Rider Blade stumbled backward. Insectatron hopped and double-kicked the Rider hard enough to bash him against the other side of the corridor.

 

The Rider crashed to his knees and shook his head with frustration. “We barely have room to move!”

 

Chalice took a step back and pulled two cards from his holster: The Five of Hearts labeled with the Shell Undead and the Six of Hearts labeled with the Hawk Undead. He swiped the cards through his staff’s slit: “DRILL; TORNADO”

 

The Rider crouched as wind circled him like a tornado. Suddenly, the cyclone expanded with enough force to drill through the ceiling, floor and walls, hurling the robotic monsters backward.

 

The blast created a gaping hole, and Chalice landed at the edge, alongside Blade. 

 

Blade climbed to his feet. “That certainly gives us some room…”

 

“We go up, Ken,” Chalice said was he jumped upward through the opening.

 

Kamen Rider Blade followed.

 

***

 

DECA Shadow and the evil Kruger dashed around one another as their swords clashed with bursts of spark. They moved with near-equal strength and agility, swinging their swords through various arcs and patterns of a similar style.

 

The Shadow Ranger growled and slashed upward. But Kruger hopped backward to dodge and swung his sword wide, slashing the Ranger with a burst of spark that knocked him several steps backward.

 

Kruger landed and held his sword over his shoulder. He snarled with amusement. “How does your head even fit into that ridiculous helmet?”

 

DECA Shadow growled with annoyance. “I don’t answer the questions of madmen like you.”

 

The Ranger sprang forward and swung his sword through a series of blows Dark Kruger blocked.

 

Nearby, the six DECA Rangers regrouped to help their mentor.

 

The Red Ranger armed his twin blasters. “Let’s take out the dog.”

 

DECA Green armed his D-Baton. “That’s a rather insensitive way to refer to-”

 

DECA Red ignored his teammate and opened fire.

 

The evil Kruger snapped around and slashed the bullets from the air with bursts of spark.

 

The villain growled and lifted his blade into a defensive stance as the Rangers charged towards him.

 

“You’re going to regret that, Rangers…” the villain said. He tightened his grip on his saber. “D-Sword Vega! Great Dog of Hell, release!”

 

He twisted the blade, which surged with blue flames that splashed through the streets, hurling the Rangers backward. The sword extended to a length equal to its holder’s height, and the blade broadened. The tip of the sword curved like the jaws of a beast.

 

DECA Red crashed against the street and skid backward as blue flames thrashed the street and surrounding buildings. He looked to his mentor, who crashed against a parked car.

 

“I don’t suppose your sword does that?” DECA Red said.

 

“No…” DECA Shadow said as he climbed to his feet. “It does not.”

 

The evil Kruger growled with laughter. “The rulers of my Earth grant their bounty hunters with weapons forged of souls. Behold my blade and its flames of hell!”

 

The evil Kruger sprang towards the fallen Rangers to attack.

 

***

 

Kamen Rider Garren blasted Giraffe Undead with rounds of bullets. The bullets sparked against the Undead’s body but barely fazed him. 

 

The Rider stepped backward and attached his Rouze Absorber to his gauntlet. He opened the fan of cards on his blaster and pulled out the Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Diamonds.

 

He slid the Queen of Diamonds into the absorber. “ABSORB QUEEN.” He swiped the Jack of Diamonds through the absorber’s slot. “FUSION JACK.”

 

He shifted into Jack Form with a pulse of golden light.

 

The Rider leapt upward and used his wings to hover through the air. He aimed downward and blasted the Undead with bursts of spark.

 

Giraffe Undead leapt upward, grabbed the Rider by the legs, and chopped off his wings with massive bursts of spark.

 

The Rider and Undead spun out of control and crashed against the ground, tumbling across the dirt.

 

They rolled to their feet.

 

Giraffe Undead swung upward with both weapons, which slashed Garren with a burst of spark that whipped him backward.

 

***

 

Kamen Rider Shin moved with frightening agility. He jumped and twisted through the air with volleys of kicks and punches that forced Leangle backward.

 

Kamen Rider Leangle twirled his staff to try deflecting the blows. But the Rider couldn’t move fast enough.

 

Shin flipped sideways with a kick that bashed Leangle to his knees.

 

Leangle swung his staff upward, and the weapon slashed Shin with a burst of spark that knocked him several steps back.

 

Kamen Rider Leangle pulled the Jack of Clubs and Queen of Clubs from his belt holster. He stepped into a defensive stance and looked at the cards. He didn’t have a Rouze Absorber like Blade or Garren. But maybe he didn’t need one. BOARD created the Blade and Garren Rider Systems, but not the Leangle System.

 

Leangle swiped the cards through his staff: “ABSORB; FUSION”

 

LeangleJackA golden energy field pulsed from his staff and slid over his armor, activating Jack Mode. While Blade and Garren each possessed a winged Jack Mode based on the flight powers of their Category Jack Undead, Leangle’s Jack Mode took on the armored form of his Category Jack Undead, the Elephant Undead. Bulky, golden pauldrons with tusks formed on his shoulders. The pauldrons matched the color of his thick, golden gauntlets and arm guards, as well as the shell that formed on his back. His chest plate turned gold and hardened. He still carried his staff in his right hand. In his left hand, he carried a hammer-shaped mace.

 

The Rider smiled beneath his helmet.

 

“I did it…” he whispered.

 

Kamen Rider Shin hopped through the air to attack.

 

Leangle swung his mace like a whip and bashed the evil Rider from the air with a burst of spark.

 

Shin crashed, rolled into a crouched stance, and pounced at Leangle. The evil Rider launched a volley of claw slashes Leangle used his thick gauntlets to block.

 

Kamen Rider Leangle twirled his staff and swung wide, slashing the evil Rider with a burst of spark. Shin staggered; Leangle swung his mace, bashing the evil Rider to the ground.

 

Kamen Rider Leangle pulled three cards from his belt: The Four of Clubs labeled with the rhino, the Six of Clubs labeled with the polar bear and the Eight of Clubs labeled with the scorpion. He slid the cards through his staff: “RUSH; BLIZZARD; POISON”

 

The Rider twirled his mace like a propeller, which pulsed with icy energy and mists of poison.

 

Leangle bolted forward and swung the mace, which bashed through Shin’s chest with an explosion of ice and smog. The blast hurled the evil Rider through the air, and he collapsed, dead, onto the ground as his energy overloaded and exploded.

 

Leangle lowered his staff and breathed deep.

 

He flipped open his buckler and pulled out his card, powering down his armor. He lost sight of the Saima. But in the distance, he saw the VOLT fortress stabbing a beam of energy into the sky.

 

Random bursts of teleportation energy still splashed across the streets, dumping the forces of Demon World Earth into Angel Grove.

 

Nicolas ran to his motorcycle to ride into the city and help.

 

***

 

Blade and Chalice leapt to the bottom of a massive chamber, which extended to the top of the fortress. A spire extended from the floor to the ceiling, several stories up.

 

Platforms surrounded the spire like rings. And various levels of bridges connected the spire to platforms along the walls.

 

The Giga Brain rested just beneath the chamber. The spire channeled its energy through the top of the fortress and into space.

 

“Remember, we can’t just destroy it,” Blade said. Cranston warned them that if they destroyed the spire, the overload might wipe out their world and Demon World Earth. “We have to shut it down.”

 

Chalice nodded.

 

The two Riders started jumping from platform to platform, a few stories at a time, as they made their way up the chamber. They neared the top when they saw the main platform wrapped around the spire like a ring. The main platform held a control panel connected to the spire.

 

“There,” Blade said as he and Chalice landed on the bridge that led to the main platform.

 

They hurried along the bridge.

 

galdosBut a massive bot dropped to the bridge to block their path. The bot, Hammer Fist, looked heavily armored with thick gauntlets. The monster bashed its fists together in a silent challenge for the Riders to attack.

 

Chalice leaned forward, held his bow back and charged.

 

The bot swung its fists. But Chalice dodged and slashed the monster with a burst of spark. The Rider twisted his grip and swung again, and again, slashing the monster repeatedly.

 

“Go, Ken!” Chalice shouted as he forced the monster several steps backward.

 

Kamen Rider Blade ran forward to leap over Chalice and Hammer Fist.

 

But a tendril wrapped around Blade’s leg and flung him off the bridge. The Rider crashed onto a lower bridge and tumbled, nearly falling from the edge.

 

Cm-vi-gamadoneThe bot called Crabor stood on the bridge and retracted his tentacles. The Dark Shaper’s robot looked crustacean, with hues of dark brown and tan. The creature had long tentacles in place of arms.

 

Kamen Rider Blade climbed to his feet and grasped his sword. “How many of you are there…?”

 

The creature swung his tendrils upward and extended them several meters. Then he bashed them down just as the Rider leapt free. The impact collapsed the bridge, so the Rider landed on a bridge higher up.

 

Crabor retracted his tendrils and followed.

 

***

 

Dark Kruger swung his massive blade, which slackened and extended. The sword slashed the seven Rangers with a single blow that sparked against their armor and hurled them backward.

 

The villain retracted his massive blade, which pulsed with blue fire. He chopped the blade against the ground, and the sword produced a wave of energy that tore through the street while shooting towards the fallen Rangers.

 

DECA Shadow climbed to his feet and armed his own sword.

 

“D-Sword Vega!” DECA Shadow shouted as he stepped back into a fighting stance. His sword howled and pulsed with energy. “Vega Slash!”

 

The Shadow Ranger charged and plowed through the energy wave. He swung his blade through a streak of energy that slashed Dark Kruger and knocked him back several steps.

 

“I won’t lose to the likes of you…” DECA Shadow said as he twirled his sword and slashed.

 

Dark Kruger blocked. But the Shadow Ranger twisted his grip and slashed low, blade sparking on impact and knocking the villain back a step.

 

Dark Kruger growled with annoyance. “That’s barely a sword.”

 

The villain chopped through a streak of blue fire that slashed DECA Shadow to the ground. Dark Kruger’s sword slackened, and he swung the blade like a whip that slashed the Shadow Ranger from the ground with a massive burst of spark and flame.

 

***

 

Giraffe Undead hacked away at Kamen Rider Garren, blades sparking on impact and driving the Rider backward with each blow. Garren — his armor reverted back to normal — tried to dodge or block. But the Undead overpowered him.

 

“Hand the Joker over to me, and we can end this,” the Undead said as he slashed Garren to the ground. “Would you give your life for him? For a creature who would destroy the world?”

 

The Undead stepped closer to Garren and raised a sword.

 

Garren lunged and grabbed the monster by the arm. He opened fire at point-blank range, blasting the Undead with bursts of spark.

 

The Undead used his free hand to chop Garren’s chest and shoulder repeatedly. But Garren kept his grip and continued blasting the Undead, bullets sparking on impact.

 

Giraffe Undead chopped Garren’s helmet with a burst of spark that tore part of the faceplate, exposing Garren’s face.

 

Garren narrowed his eyes and leaned closer, keeping his finger on his trigger.

 

***

 

Crabor’s tendrils whipped at Blade as the Rider charged forward.

 

The Rider slashed the tendrils with bursts of spark to keep them at bay as he charged. He moved in close enough to swing upward with a powerful blow that slashed Crabor with a burst of spark. He chopped, then swung wide, strikes sparking on impact and forcing the monster backward.

 

Above, Chalice hacked relentless at Hammer Fist. The monster swung its fists at the Rider. But Chalice dodged and slashed the monster with bursts of spark, his strikes moving faster than the bulky monster could dodge.

 

***

 

Garren pressed himself against the Undead and aimed his blaster at the monster’s head.

 

“I’ve lost everything…” the Rider said. “The organization I believed in…the girl I loved…I’m not going to lose the last thing I have. I’m not going to lose my friends, who I believe in!”

 

The Rider knocked the monster’s arms away and opened fire. His bullets sparked against the Undead with enough force to knock him back several steps.

 

The Undead dropped to his knees. “If the Joker remains…the world will be destroyed. You’re a fool…”

 

The Rider tightened his grip on his blaster. He would never turn his faith away from his friends again. Not as he had with the Peacock Undead. Not as he had with Sarc. Never again.

 

He opened the card fan on his blaster and pulled out three cards. He swiped them one by one through the slit on his weapon: “BULLET; RAPID; FIRE”

 

He triggered a rapid burst of fiery bullets that tore through the Undead with massive bursts of spark, knocking him to the ground.

 

Kamen Rider Garren pulled out a blank card and tossed it at the Undead. The card stabbed into the Undead, absorbed the monster, and shot back into Garren’s hand.

 

***

 

Chalice gasped with pain and dropped to his knees. Hammer Fist punched the Rider’s back with bursts of spark.

 

But Chalice slashed upward, knocking the monster back.

 

“Ken…” Chalice said as he climbed to his feet and staggered backward. “The Last King…is gone.”

 

Blade slashed Crabor aside. “So that means…”

 

Chalice screamed, a sound that twisted into an unnatural, guttural howl. His body reverted back into its Joker form.

 

Hammer Fist stepped backward with surprise.

 

Joker pounced and tackled Hammer Fist down. The Undead unsheathed his daggers, stabbed through the monster’s body, and swung outward, tearing the bot’s innards apart.

 

Hammer Fist exploded as Joker jumped from the bridge.

 

The Undead landed while tackling Crabor. Joker grabbed Crabor’s tentacles and ripped them from the bot’s body. Snarling, the Undead tore apart the bot’s chest plating and used his teeth to rip out the wiring inside.

 

The bot exploded as Joker jumped away and landed behind Blade.

 

“Zayden…” Blade said as he stepped into a defensive stance. “You can fight this. You have all your cards; this isn’t you. Listen to the part of you that’s hu-”

 

Joker sprang to attack.

 

***

 

The Undead scanner on Megan’s computer beeped in alarm. Megan rushed to her computer, with Bobby trailing behind.

 

“The Last King?” Bobby asked.

 

“No…” Megan said as she sat at her desk. “Something else…”

 

The monitor showed Category Unknown Undead signals start to pop up throughout the city. Dozens. Then hundreds.

 

***

 

DarkroachesBlack ripples formed through the skies and dumped hundreds of Undead called Dark Roaches into the city. The Dark Roaches spread through the already war-torn streets and attacked everything.

 

The ripples didn’t stop above Angel Grove. They spread, slowly. First through neighboring Stone Canyon and Crossworld City. Then further into Los Angeles and San Francisco.

 

In Angel Grove, Dark Kruger ignited his sword with flame and swung the blade wide. The blade extended like a whip and slashed DECA Break and DECA Red from their feet.

 

DECA Blue and DECA Pink closed in from the side. But Dark Kruger snapped his blade around and slashed the Rangers back.

 

Suddenly, Dark Roaches landed in the street. The Undead scurried and attacked. They slashed through parked cars and lifted toppled vehicles, hurling them into buildings.

 

The Roaches turned their attention to the Rangers and attacked. They plowed through the DECA team with claws sparking against armor.

 

Dark Kruger intended to take advantage of the distraction. But a wave of Dark Roaches scurried to attack him. The dog growled with annoyance and swung his blade through a streak of blue fire that burned the Roaches with bursts of flame and spark, hurling them backward.

 

Nearby, Kamen Rider Leangle throttled onto the street. He drove through the Roaches, his bike plowing them aside before skidding to a halt.

 

The Rider hopped off his bike and started swinging his staff, slashing the Roaches aside one-by-one.

 

***

 

The Forsaken named Lanfear stared upward. Her cloak concealed her face with shadow.

 

Her brow furrowed with annoyance. The Forsaken had lied to Tennoji about the Dark One whispering his secrets to the Last Undead standing. In truth, she believed the final Undead held the key to breaking the Second Seal.

 

But that didn’t happen.

 

Instead, the Second Seal cracked and started to crumble when the Joker became the last Undead. And the Dark Roaches were the falling pieces.

 

But the crack wasn’t enough to break the Second Seal. Not completely.

 

“Why…” she whispered.

 

To be continued…44