Ultimate Power Rangers Recap

 

The road so far…

 

The First Demon Azmodai broke the First Seal of the Dark One’s prison, releasing the Forsaken. The Forsaken plan to release the remaining Seals, having already broken the Second and Third.

 

One of the Forsaken, Moridyn, used his astral form to appear to Simon Kaden in Hell. Moridyn intends to lead Simon through Hell and back to the land of the living.

 

Meanwhile, Simon’s sister, Maya, mourns the loss of her brother. She lives above an antique shop with her boyfriend Kouishiro, the former Kamen Rider Kuuga.

 

They share their home with Austin, Kamen Rider Wizard; Leo, Kamen Rider Beast and Kane, the young Kamen Rider Mage.

 

The Forsaken named Rahvin took the identity of the White Mage, crafted the Riders’ powers, and tried to use them to break the Second Seal. But he failed.

 

After the Rangers and Riders defeated the White Mage, the Phantoms continued to hunt humans, although they lost interest in driving humans known as Gates to despair to give birth to new Phantoms.

 

Austin and Leo continued to fight them.

 

Now…

 

Shaded Relics: Chapter 22

Brother Can You Hear Me

 

PROLOGUE: Great Beast of Hell

 

DaiShi stood on top of the RinJuken Akugata dojo. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked down upon the courtyard filled with Rinshi.

 

The demon’s face twisted into a smile.

 

“Excellent,” he said. He possessed the dead body of Simon Kaden, but his voice sounded deep and hollow. “All of this will belong to you, soon. When you take your place at my side…”

 

Evan shifted uncomfortably and knitted his brow with confusion. “I…” He shook his head. “What about Jarrod?”

 

DaiShi scowled. “That fool betrayed me. Betrayed the RinJuken, and the legacy of the Great Beast of Hell, the Mogralord. You…will not make that mistake.”

 

Evan opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it. He wanted to escape. He wanted to find the Rangers. But fear kept him from trying. That, and curiosity. He spoke with the demon that possessed his birth father years ago. That knowledge stirred something…strange within him. It almost felt like a sense of belonging. Of family.

 

The boy knew better than to trust DaiShi. But at the same time, he couldn’t deny that he felt a connection with the demon.

 

DaiShi placed his hands on Evan’s shoulders. “You are about to witness something grand. Within Demon City, there is a tablet — the Demon Tablet —containing the secrets of the Mogralord’s powers. As the rightful heir of the Mogralord, this tablet belongs to me.”  

 

His eyes brightened with dark power. “In the coming days, I will become the next Great Beast of Hell. And I will recreate LaMoghraDaiDenKo — what you humans called the Second Countdown to Destruction.”

 

***

 

PART ONE: Faded Hope

 

Maya sat alone in the antique shop she owned with her boyfriend Kouishiro. She held a picture of her foster brother Simon at the age of 8, before he met the Rangers.

 

“Simon…” she whispered as she traced her fingers along the photo. I should have been there for you…

 

Instead she traveled the world as an archeologist, following her dream. Even when she returned to Angel Grove, she spent her time studying Demon City instead of taking care of her little brother.

 

I was so selfish…

 

She kept wishing Tommy would call to tell her Simon survived somehow, or came back from the dead. But as the months passed, her hope dimmed.

 

She closed her eyes as a tear streamed down her cheek. You’re really gone…

 

***

 

Hell

 

Simon slashed through a wave of damned souls that nearly trampled him within the Third Circle of Hell. The spirits fled from a massive beast in the distance. It clawed from the icy muck and roared with three heads.

 

The skinless creature looked dog-like, and its tongues lashed out like worms with jaws of their own. The tongues devoured the spirits that tried to scramble to safety. Their hollow death screams echoed throughout the Third Circle.

 

“That…” Moridyn said casually as spirits ran through his astral form. “Is Cerebus. He seems to be quite displeased that you’ve killed his master. And now, without her to control him, he has assumed his true form.”

 

“Are you saying this is my fault?” Simon shouted as he slashed through a trio of souls.

 

“Very much so, yes,” Moridyn said. “Now that he has assumed this form, to reach the next Circle of Hell, you will need to go…through him.”

 

Simon arced an eyebrow. “Through him? We can’t just…go around or something?”

 

“I’m afraid not,” Moridyn said.

 

Simon knitted his brow and glared at the massive beast. He tightened his grip on his black katana and charged towards the creature.

 

Cerebus roared at Simon. One of its jaws snapped at the ranger, but he leapt upward to avoid the head.

 

A second head lashed out with its tongue, which sprouted tendrils. While in midair, Simon slashed and hacked through the tendrils. But they re-spawned and wrapped around his body.  

 

The ranger flared with a burst of black Ki that vaporized the tendrils. His aura ignited, and he shot towards the belly of the beast.

 

Cerebus roared and sprouted all its tongues at the ranger. Simon slashed his blade through a streak of black light that hacked through the first tongue, and then the second.

 

The third tongue lashed out with tendrils that wrapped around Simon and pinned his arms against his sides.

 

He started to ignite his aura.

 

But the tongue swallowed him whole and snapped back into the mouth of the beast’s middle head. 

 

***

 

Angel Grove

 

Austin and Leo hunted Phantom Demons. Without leadership, the creatures struck random targets without motive. They wanted to cause chaos and despair. Nothing more.

 

A group of Ghouls attacked a shopping plaza in Angel Grove West. Austin and Leo ran to the scene and slid on their rings.

 

“Awaken!” Leo shouted as he snapped his ring against his belt buckler, which flipped open:  “OPEN — LION; AWAKEN.”

 

A golden circle slid across his body as he transformed into Kamen Rider Beast.

 

“Awaken!” Austin shouted as he placed his left hand over his buckler. His ring flashed with red light. “FLAME; AWAKEN.”

 

He extended his left arm to his side and summoned a magick circle. The red circle slid across his body as he transformed into Kamen Rider Wizard.

 

Wizard armed his sword, and Beast armed his baton-like saber. Kamen Rider Beast held his weapon back as he charged.

 

“It’s lunchtime!” he shouted.

 

Wizard sighed and slashed through a group of Ghouls with bursts of spark. “You’re still saying that?”

 

“Of course I am,” Beast said as he slashed down a trio of Ghouls. “It’s still accurate.”

 

“And ridiculous,” Wizard said as he kicked a Ghoul and swung upward, slashing the grunt off its feet.

 

“I have a demon-sucking phantom living inside me,” Beast said as he kicked a Ghoul and slashed a second grunt. “I’m allowed to be ridiculous.”

 

Neither Rider noticed someone watch from the rooftops. The young man stood with his arms across his chest and smiled gleefully.

 

“I wonder if they miss me…?” Gremlin asked with a chuckle.

 

The Phantom Demon looked towards the distance. “I suppose I’ve let them have their fun long enough, haven’t I, Lisa?”

 

He still spoke to Medusa as if she lived, even though she died months ago.

 

“No…” he whispered. “I don’t suppose you would agree. But that’s part of the fun!”

 

He tilted his head as if listening to the dead Phantom. “My, my, Lisa. You’ve become so creative. Yes…it’s been far too long since we’ve driven someone to the brink of despair. This calls for someone special…Let’s go say hello to the Riders’ friends…”

 

***

 

Kane returned to the antique shop after school. He and his sister, Mindy, lived with Maya and Kouishiro in the apartments upstairs.

 

“Maya, I’m home!” Kane shouted. “You’ll never guess what we did in school today! There was this-”

 

He stopped when he noticed Maya walk from the back room while wiping a tear from her face.

 

“Oh…” Kane said as he shifted his backpack. “Sorry…”

 

“Don’t be sorry,” Maya said with a forced smile. She mentally kicked herself for letting Kane see her cry. She needed to be strong for the boy. “Let me go freshen up. Then when Kouishiro and your sister get back, we can all go out to dinner. How does that sound?”

 

His face lit up. “That sounds great.”

 

“Good,” Maya said. “Now-”

 

The shop doors swung open, and in walked Gremlin in his human form. He smiled and waved mockingly.

 

Hel-lo.” He said.

 

Maya stood protectively in front of Kane. “Kane, run upstairs and call Austin.”

 

“No,” the boy said as he nudged her aside. “I can help. I’m a mage!”

 

Gremlin chuckled. “Yes, a little mage. I’d almost forgotten.” He leaned on his knees and bent closer to Kane’s eye-level. “Do you want to play, little mage?”

 

Kane slid on his ring and summoned his buckler: “DRIVER ON.”

 

He placed his Mage Ring on his left hand, shifted his Driver, and placed his left hand over the buckler.

 

“Awaken!” he shouted. His ring glowed with blue light. “AWAKEN; NOW”

 

A magick circle slid across his body as he transformed into the Blue Mage.

 

The Rider armed his claw-shaped fist weapon and pounced with a swing. Gremlin shifted into his monster form, dodged, and swatted the claw aside.

 

The Phantom kicked Blue Mage’s gut and slammed the back of his fist across the Rider’s helmet. The impact sent him hurling across the shop.

 

“Leave him alone!” Maya shouted. She rushed towards Gremlin without thinking. She failed Simon. She wouldn’t fail Kane too.

 

Gremlin grabbed Maya by the throat and lifted her off the floor. “My, my,” Gremlin said. “So full of fire. Lisa would like you…very much. Come. Let’s play…”

 

***

 

Austin and Leo returned to the antique shop. They stopped in the doorway when they noticed the shop in shambles.

 

Austin knitted his brow. “Maya…”

 

He rushed inside, and Leo followed.

 

“Austin!” a voice shouted from beneath a toppled shelf. Kane pushed the shelf away and climbed slowly to his feet. “He…He took Maya!”

 

“Who?” Austin asked.

 

“Gremlin,” Kane said.

 

Austin narrowed his eyes. “Gremlin…”

 

“That ass-hat?” Leo asked.

 

Kane nodded. “We have to save her!”

 

Austin nodded. “We will.”

 

They heard the backdoor open, and Jesse walked into the shop. “Hey, guys! What’s…?”

 

He stopped when he noticed the disarray. “Oh…” he said. “I am not cleaning this up.”

 

“No one asked you to,” Leo said. “Gremlin kidnapped Maya.”

 

Jesse opened his eyes wide with shock. “Gremlin! He’s still out there?!”

 

Austin slid one of his familiar rings onto his hand and placed his palm over his buckler. “GARUDA; AWAKEN.”

 

He slid on another ring. “UNICORN; AWAKEN.”

 

And another. “KRAKEN; AWAKEN.”

 

He attached his rings to the small armored creatures, and they flew through the doors.

 

“Come on,” Austin said to Leo. “They’ll help us search.” He looked to Jesse. “You stay here and use Luna’s crystal ball to look through their eyes.”

 

Jesse wanted to jump with excitement, but contained himself. “Are you sure? That was…That was Luna’s.”

 

Austin nodded. “I’m sure.”

 

“What about me?” Kane asked. “I’m coming with you.”

 

“No, you’re too young for this,” Austin said.

 

Leo nodded. “And small. We might…trip on you or something.”

 

“The Beetle Borgs were my age,” Kane said defensively.

 

“Two of them died,” Austin said. “Not your best argument.”

 

Austin looked to Leo. “Let’s go.”

 

The riders ran outside, leaving Kane and Jesse alone.

 

***

 

Austin and Leo searched aimlessly for hours. They spotted no trace of Gremlin, and neither did the familiars.

 

Leo signed and leaned back against a park bench. “Maybe we’re thinking about this wrong…”

 

“How’s that?” Austin asked.

 

“Well, we have no idea what we’re looking for, for one thing.”

 

“The Phantoms always leave signs,” Austin said.

 

“Yeah, but Gremlin’s different,” Leo said. “Screwed-up-in-the-head different.”

 

Austin nodded. “OK…So what do we know about him? That might give us a clue.”

 

Leo shrugged. “That’s kind of my point,” he said. “We don’t know squat.”

 

“Then let’s find out,” Austin said. “Phantoms retain the memories of their Gates. Maybe we need to learn more about Gremlin’s Gate…”

 

“OK, you do some research,” Leo said. “I’ll wait here.”

 

Austin arced an eyebrow. “And do what?”

 

Leo shrugged. “Nap?”

 

Austin grabbed Leo by the arm. “Come on…”

 

***

 

Austin and Leo didn’t need much time to learn about Gremlin’s Gate. Police wanted the Gate, Sora, for a serial-killing spree.

 

Apparently, Sora used to work at a hair salon. He’d kidnap woman, take them to the salon at night, cut their hair, and then kill them.

 

“Sounds like a whack job,” Austin said.

 

“This salon…” Austin said. “It closed down after the killings. Maybe he still feels a…connection to the place.”

 

“Worth checking out,” Leo said.

 

Austin nodded. “All right. Let’s go…”

 

***

 

In his human form, Sora tied Maya to a salon chair. She struggled to break free, but the more she struggled, the tighter the ropes grasped.

 

Sora smiled at her struggle. “Now, now. Don’t fight…young sister.”

 

“I’m not your sister.”

 

Sora giggled. “No…I suppose you’re not. But you are a lovely thing…”

 

The villain picked up a pair of scissors and started trimming her hair. “What long, beautiful hair you have…”

 

“What’s wrong with you?” Maya asked.

 

Sora giggled. “Me? Nothing. Nothing at all. You see, unlike other Phantoms...I retained my humanity. My identity.”

 

“They’re just memories,” Maya said.

 

Sora chucked. “No, silly girl. I am so much more than his memories. I am him. Isn’t that fun?”

 

Maya struggled, but Sora grasped her by the hair. “Now, now, Maya. Would you really struggle against a man with razor-sharp scissors so close to your neck?”

 

***

 

Austin and Leo throttled towards Sora’s salon.  They pulled to a stop in front of the run-down building and hopped off their cycles.

 

“This is the place,” Austin said.

 

“Looks lovely,” Leo said as they rushed inside.

 

They found the entire salon deserted, covered with cobwebs. Sheets covered the chairs, and boards covered the windows.

 

Austin knitted his brow. “They’re not here.”

 

Leo sighed. “Well…our detective skills officially suck. Guess we won’t be joining SPD.”

 

Austin arced an eyebrow. “SPD?”

 

“Dude, they catch alien criminals,” Leo said. “How fun does that sound.”

 

“Maya’s in trouble, Leo,” Austin said. “We don’t have time to joke…”

 

“OK, OK,” Leo said as he waved his hands defensively. “So where do we look next?”

 

Austin shook his head. “I have no idea…”

 

***

 

Jesse paced back and forth in the back of the antique shop. Luna’s crystal ball showed what Austin’s familiars saw. But the sights showed no sign of Maya.

 

“That’s pretty much useless…” he whispered.

 

Suddenly, a purple-armored familiar hopped out from under the couch.

 

Jesse smiled with recognition. “Seriously? You been hiding under there all these months, little guy? That’s just-”

 

The Golem Familiar hopped from the shop.

 

Jesse tilted his head. “Huh.”

 

***

 

Sora hummed as he cut Maya’s hair. “Now, now, Lisa,” he said to the shadows. “Not yet. She has to look her best…”

 

Maya knitted her brow. “Who are you talking to…?”

 

“Lisa,” Sora said. “Can’t you hear her?”

 

“You’re…You’re insane,” Maya said.

 

Sora chuckled. “Maybe I am. But what fun is sanity?” He ran his fingers through her hair. “Now tell me…what is it that brings you so close to despair…”

 

“If you think you can scare me…you’re wrong,” Maya said. “After everything I’ve seen. Bandora. The Grongi. Demon City. After all of that, you’re nothing.”

 

Sora spun the chair around, tilted it back, and leaned over Maya. He glared an inch from her face. “Nothing? Don’t be rude, pretty. Now…what brings you close to despair?!”

 

Sora tilted his head, listening to an unseen voice. “Oh…?” The villain’s lips curled into a cold smile. “How interesting…Thank you, Lisa.”

 

He opened his eyes wide and stared at Maya. “Your brother…Simon. He’s dead, isn’t he? Very dead. And you did nothing to save him…”

 

Maya glared at the Phantom. She struggled to break loose from the bindings that tied her to the chair. “You don’t have any idea what you’re-”

 

“Think carefully, Maya,” Sora said.

 

He grasped her forehead and pushed down, snapping the chair, which crashed to the floor. The villain bent over her and tightened his grip on her forehead.

 

“Think…very…carefully…” he said.

 

“You’re a monster!” Maya shouted.

 

“I said think!” Sora shouted as he grinned with madness. “Dwell on your failure, Maya…”

 

Her mind flashed back…

 

In 2001, Maya and Simon stumbled upon the Power Rangers’ first fight with a Dora Monster, DoraTitan. The creature trapped the siblings in a pocket dimension, within a giant monitor in Angel’s Square.

 

When the monster felt pain, agony shot through Maya and Simon like white-hot fire. The pain shot through their nerves and nearly drove them to tears.

 

Maya clutched onto Simon’s hand. She couldn’t let him die. Not like this.

 

Another bolt of pain seared through their limbs.

 

A part of Maya wanted to give up. To surrender, and tell her little brother goodbye. But she held onto hope, hope that these Power Rangers would save her.

 

Through the veil of the pocket dimension, she saw Tyranno Ranger swing his sword and fire a wave of red energy. The energy wave tore through the monster and a neighboring building, shattering the pocket dimension.

 

Maya felt a wave of vertigo as she and her younger brother collapsed to the street below.

 

Simon stared at the damaged building. He didn’t show fear. He didn’t show pain. His eyes widened with wonder.

 

“That was cool!” he shouted.

 

Cracks of purple energy webbed throughout the memory.

 

Following her near-death experience, Maya chose to help the Rangers instead of keeping her little brother safe.

 

The cracks widened, and parts of the memory shattered into shards.

 

She led him into the life that got him killed.

 

His death was her fault.  

 

Maya gasped as cracks of purple energy webbed across her skin. The cracks pulsed with shadow power.

 

“It seems you’re a Gate after all,” Sora said with a twisted smile. He ran his fingers through her hair. “How beautiful…”

 

Suddenly, a Golem Familiar sprang into the salon and smacked Sora’s head, knocking him back a step.

 

The small familiar jumped at the Phantom’s face. But Sora swatted him aside.

 

“What a cute little toy…” he said.

 

Austin and Leo barged into the salon, having followed the familiar. Leo tackled Sora and knocked him against the wall.

 

Austin rushed to Maya’s side and helped her sit up. “Maya…”

 

Gremlin shifted into his monster form and hurled Leo across the room.

 

Austin armed his buckler. “DRIVER ON.”

 

He slid his Wizard Ring onto his left hand. “Austin, keep him busy. I need to get into Maya’s Inner World.”

 

Austin grumbled as he stood. “Sure thing. Let me get right on that…”

 

He slid his Beast Ring onto his hand.

 

“Awaken!” He snapped his ring against his buckler, which flipped open: “OPEN — LION; AWAKEN.”

 

A magick circle slid across his body as he transformed into Kamen Rider Beast.

 

The Rider armed his Beast Saber and charged at Gremlin.

 

Gremlin armed twin, curved blades and swung outward, slashing Beast with bursts of spark that hurled him through the wall.

 

Austin held his hand over his buckler. “Awaken!” His ring flashed with red light. “FLAME; AWAKEN.”

 

A red magick circle slid over him as he transformed into Kamen Rider Wizard.

 

Gremlin lunged and chopped at Wizard. The Rider armed his sword, blocked the sabers, and pushed Gremlin backward. Wizard swung through a butterfly pattern that slashed Gremlin and knocked him several steps backward.

 

The monster giggled. “Well this is no fun. What about Maya…?”

 

Wizard hesitated and looked over his shoulder at Maya. She struggled as cracks of shadow tore through her skin.

 

Suddenly, Beast leapt into the room with a jumping side-kick that bashed Gremlin off his feet. The demon crashed through the wall and landed in an adjacent shop, also vacant.

 

“Hurts like a bitch, doesn’t it?” Beast said.

 

Kamen Rider Beast armed his dolphin ring on his right hand. He snapped the ring against his buckler: “DOLPHI; AWAKEN”

 

Beast extended his right hand to his side and summoned a magick circle of purple energy. The circle washed across his body and formed a purple, dolphin-headed mantle on his right shoulder.

 

Beast connected his dolphin ring to his saber hilt, which spoke: “DOLPHI; SABER STRIKE”

 

A circle of golden, magical energy formed in front of Beast.

 

Kamen Rider Beast stabbed his blade through the circle, which flashed to summon multiple smaller circles.

 

The circles acted like portals and summoned energy blasts shaped like dolphins.

 

The dolphins swam through the air and slashed Gremlin with massive bursts of spark that tore across his body.

 

Meanwhile, Wizard leaned next to Maya and placed an Inner World Ring on her hand.

 

The Rider placed his hand over his buckler. “ENTER; INNERWORLD”

 

Maya’s ring flared with a golden portal. Wizard hopped feet-first into the portal, which allowed him to enter Maya’s Inner World — her subconscious.

 

***

 

Beast connected his Falcon Ring to his buckler: “FALCO; AWAKEN”

 

The Rider extended his right hand to his side and summoned an orange circle of magick energy. The energy field washed across his body and formed a falcon-headed mantle on his right shoulder.

 

Beast connected his ring to his hilt: “FALCO; SABER STRIKE”

 

He slashed his sword and summoned a golden, magic circle that fired a falcon-shaped energy blast. The blast exploded against Gremlin; he shattered through the shop exit, crashed against the street outside, and skid backward.

 

Kamen Rider Beast charged through the opening to attack.

 

Gremlin laughed as he climbed to his feet. “That was a little more fun. You’re getting better.”

 

Beast hopped and chopped his blade. Gremlin caught the saber, punched Beast’s gut, and side-kicked his chest. The impact bashed the Rider off his feet.

 

***

 

Kamen Rider Wizard landed in Maya’s Inner World. Dark clouds and mist covered the dreamscape. He didn’t see a single memory. Darkness shrouded every glimpse of Maya’s thoughts.

 

“What…” he whispered. “What’s going on…?”

 

“Kamen Rider Wizard…” a woman’s voice whispered from the darkness. “I’ve been waiting for you…”

 

Wizard tightened his grip on his sword. “Who are you?”

 

Lanfear,” she said, her voice quiet and eerie, like a soft, cold whisper. “A Forsaken…”

 

Invisible energy grabbed Wizard’s neck and snapped him upward. Explosions thrashed his armor with massive bursts of spark.

 

“You travel from Inner World to Inner World, hunting Phantoms…” Lanfear said. “You think you have power here. But you do not. I rule the dream realm. I created the nightmares of the human mind. I can do anything here…Anything.”

 

An invisible force hurled Wizard backward. He shattered through walls of Maya’s memories, which flashed briefly within the fog.

 

The Rider crashed and skid across the memory of a street in Egypt. Strands of shadow energy cracked through the memory like webs.

 

Wizard stood and looked to see Kamen Rider Kuuga stalk towards him.

 

“What the…Kouishiro?”

 

Kuuga lunged with a volley of punches and kicks Wizard blocked and dodged.

 

“Kouishiro!” Wizard shouted. “Stop!”

 

Kuuga round-kicked Wizard’s gut and punched his faceplate, whipping him off his feet.

 

Wizard crashed against the street, which shattered, and the Rider plummeted downward through Maya’s unconscious.

 

He landed in Maya’s memory of Angel’s Square. Shadow energy cracked and splintered through every building and sidewalk within the memory.

 

DoraTitan snapped its chain, which wrapped around Wizard’s neck. The monster pulled the chain, forcing Wizard to his knees.

 

Ahead, the original Power Rangers charged to attack.

 

Tyranno Ranger slashed Wizard’s chest.

 

Mammoth Ranger chopped his axe against the Rider’s shoulder with a burst of spark that dropped him to the ground.

 

The Rider climbed to all fours.

 

Tricera Ranger swung his lance upward, slashing the Rider with a burst of spark that whipped him backward.

 

Ptera Ranger snapped a volley of arrows, and Tiger Ranger threw her daggers. The weapons struck Wizard with bursts of spark that hurled him through the air.

 

He shattered through the memory and plummeted deeper into Maya’s mind.

 

“There’s nothing I can’t do here,” Lanfear said. “Her every memory is my weapon.”

 

Wizard landed against a memory shard within Maya’s shattered Inner World. “Why are you doing this?!”

 

Explosions thrashed his armor and hurled him deeper into the void.

 

***

 

Gremlin slashed Beast’s sword from his hand and kicked his chest. The Rider stumbled backward but stood his ground.

 

The Phantom lunged and swung upward, slashing Beast with a burst of spark that whipped him off his feet.

 

Kamen Rider Beast tumbled and rolled into a crouched position. “OK, that’s getting annoying…”

 

“And repetitive,” Gremlin said as he stalked towards the Rider. “So much tumbling and crouching.”

 

Beast slid his Hyper Ring onto his left hand and connected the ring to his buckler. “HYPER; AWAKEN”

 

A golden magick circle formed behind the Rider. The astral projection of Chimera surged through the circle and merged with Beast with a shattering of golden light.

 

He stood in his blue-and-gold armored Hyper Mode.

 

Beast extended the strands on his forearms and lashed out, whipping the Phantom with bursts of spark.

 

Gremlin hopped backward to gain distance, leapt through the air, and flying side-kicked Beast. The impact hurled the Rider against the nearest building.

 

***

 

Kamen Rider Wizard climbed to his feet within Maya’s Inner World. He rolled his hands into fists.

 

“Why…?” he asked. “Why now? Why Maya?”

 

“You didn’t catch our attention until the Second Sabbath, Ring Mage. And this is the first Inner World you’ve entered since then,” Lanfear said.

 

“Show yourself!” Wizard shouted.

 

Purple cracks splintered through the void. Wizard knew he needed to act soon, or lose Maya forever.

 

Wizard pounced through the void. But the force of the Forsaken hurled him further into Maya’s mind, so deep, that the Rider lost himself completely and slipped from his own consciousness.

 

***

 

Beast round-kicked Gremlin and punched the Phantom’s face. Gremlin staggered back a step but slashed upward, striking the Rider with a burst of spark that knocked him back several steps.

 

Kamen Rider Beast twirled and snapped his forearm strands, whipping the Phantom with bursts of spark.

 

Gremlin collapsed to his knees and sighed. “You’re starting to bore me…”

 

Kamen Rider Beast armed his Hyper Magnum blaster. “Freaking psychopath…”

 

Beast connected his ring to his blaster. “HYPER; MAGNUM STRIKE.”

 

The Rider triggered a wave of energy shaped like the Chimera, which blasted Gremlin with massive bursts of spark that tore through his chest.

 

Gremlin collapsed to all fours. He shifted back into his human form and clutched his gut, which dripped with ichor.

 

The villain smiled. “Lisa…it looks like I’ll be joining you soon, yes?”

 

He knitted his brow, as if expecting an answer that didn’t come. “Lisa…? Why can’t I hear you…? Lisa?!”

 

Gremlin sprang to his feet and shifted back into his monster form. “Lisa?!”

 

Beast fired another Chimera-shaped energy blast that tore through Gremlin with massive bursts of spark. The Phantom collapsed to his knees, laughed, and exploded into ash.

 

The Rider lowered his weapon. “That wasn’t pathetic at all…”

 

***

 

Leo rushed back into the salon to find Maya unconscious, and Austin nowhere in sight.

 

Maya looked normal. Cracks no longer formed across her skin.

 

But her Inner World Ring looked broken, with cracks and chips.

 

Leo knitted his brow. “That can’t be good…”

 

***

 

Leo carried Maya back to the antique shop. He laid her on the couch in the back room where Kouishiro and Kane waited.

 

Kouishiro sat at the head of the couch and held Maya’s hand. He inspected the Inner World Ring.

 

“I’m not sure if I can fix it…” Kouishiro said. “But I’ll try…No. I will…I will fix it.”

 

“What about Austin?” Leo asked. “Is he just…trapped in her head? Because that’s never happened. And it’s weird.”

 

Kouishiro nodded. “Whatever did this to Maya…wasn’t a Phantom,” Kouishiro said.   

 

***

 

PART THREE: Through the Third Circle

 

Simon landed within the gooey stomach of Cerebus. Eerie light filled the creature’s bowels. Slime dripped into pools of sludge, for as far as the eyes could see.

 

Simon climbed slowly to his feet within the vile liquid. He cursed beneath his breath. “Son of a bitch…”

 

Dozens of souls floated through the stomach. Simon wrinkled his nose with disgust.

 

Moridyn shimmered into view behind the ranger. “A most…unpleasant place.”

 

“No one’s keeping you here,” Simon said. He watched souls float motionless, or thrash within the bowels of the beast.

 

“Gluttons…” Simon said. “So they ate too much…and this is their punishment? For eternity?”

 

The bowels shook, nearly knocking Simon from his feet. Suddenly, a shadowy figure appeared, translucent, but with cold blue eyes.

 

“They deserve their fate…” the creature hissed.

 

Simon glared at the demon. “I don’t know who you are, you son of a bitch. But no one deserves this. Not for eating too damn much. That’s insane!”

 

“Do not speak in such a tone to me, boy,” the creature said. “You seem to forget….You have more than one sibling who met an untimely demise.”

 

Simon narrowed his eyes. “Owen…”

 

“I have the boy,” the creature said. “Will you come for him?”

 

Simon shifted into his Shaded form.

 

Suddenly, tendrils lashed from the lining of the creature’s stomach.

 

Simon shot forward and slashed through the tendrils with streaks of black light. He hacked and swung his saber, which tore through tendrils with splatters of black ichor. The ranger continued his advance through the insides of the beast, blade flashing with each swing.

 

Simon skid to a halt within a massive, biological chamber. A giant heart hung suspended with strands of muscular tissue. The heart pulsed with waves of shadow power.

 

Simon narrowed his eyes. “What is this…?”

 

“It’s the heart of Cerebus,” Moridyn said. “Destroy it. Quickly.”

 

Simon charged his blade with black energy, tinted red. Tendrils lashed from the heart and whipped towards Simon. The ranger dashed back and forth to dodge the tendrils and hacked them to pieces. His blade flashed through bursts of dark light that struck every slimily tendril that sprouted from within the beast.

 

The ranger landed on the heart and stabbed through it, with a burst of dark light. The heart exploded with a splash of red blood that washed across Simon and hurled him backward.

 

Outside, Cerebus roared with pain and coughed splatters of blood.

 

Simon tore through the creature’s chest with a massive burst of black fire. The ranger flew out of control and plummeted towards the massive cavern below.

 

***

 

EPILOGUE: Forsaken

 

Graendal sat in an abandoned hotel lobby she used minions to redecorate.

 

She kept the lighting low, and servants stood nearby with trays of food and wine. Naked men laid across the lobby for her amusement, and she used one of the men as a footstool as she leaned back casually in her chair, gilded with gold.

 

Demons possessed most of the men, who belonged to gangs she now controlled throughout the city. These gangs included several Shaded within their ranks.

 

She smiled and leaned back. “It’s good to be me…”

 

The doors opened, and Mesaana walked into the lobby.

 

Graendal looked towards her visitor. “Hello, sister. Do you like what I’ve done with the place? It’s fitting for the city’s new Queen of Crime, don’t you think?”

 

Mesaana arced an eyebrow. “Queen of Crime?”

 

“Every slovenly group of ruffians within this city belongs to me now,” she said. “Do you think big brother Moridyn would be proud?”

 

“Do we care?” Mesaana asked.

 

Graendal smirked. “Not in the slightest. Now…what word from Lanfear?”

 

“She’s done it,” Mesaana said. “She whispered into that idiot Gremlin’s mind to start her trap. Now Wizard is out.”

 

“And the other Ring Mages?” Graendal asked.

 

Mesaana shook her head.

 

Graendal sighed and leaned back. “That fool Rahvin…” Rahvin knew weapons forged by Forsaken could kill Forsaken. Yet he forged the Magick Rings as part of his plot anyway. “All he’s managed to accomplish is create Riders who can kill us all. How useful. No wonder he’s gone into hiding…I hope he hangs himself.”

 

“We won’t have to worry about the other Ring Mages,” Mesaana said. “They’ll be too busy trying to help Wizard, and that girl.”

 

“Good…With our dear brother Moridyn busy playing with his astral self in Hell, it’s past time we broke the Fourth Seal,” she said as she stood. “Shall we?”

 

To be continued…Chapter 23

 

Recap

 

Seven Seals:

1)      The Forsaken’s prison, broken by Azmodai.

2)      The first human to become a true immortal. Kamen Rider Blade became an immortal when his King Form pushed him past the limits of his own humanity.

3)      The First Demon, in physical form, set foot on the mortal plane for the first time.  This caused three aftereffects.

a.       Demons gained the ability to burst through the people they possessed and take physical form.

b.      The children of demon-possessed men and women gained the ability to “demon morph” into stronger forms (Shaded).

c.       The planet’s ley lines —lines of magick energy — unraveled and blanketed the whole planet, turning the entire Earth into a supernatural beacon.

4)      Unknown.

5)      Unknown.

6)      Unknown.

7)      Unknown.