Kamen Rider Black: Chapter Four
Shadow Moon Awakens
The High Priests were worried. They stood beneath the transparent cocoon that held Saske's mutated form, which was ebbing with light that became more dim with each pulse. He was dying. They were losing Shadow Moon.
"His life force is failing..." Bishium whispered. "Curse Brugenia. He caused this to happen."
The Creation King's telepathic presence suddenly drilled into the High Priests' minds with enough power to force them to their knees. The weight of the psionic message was overwhelming, a sense of urgency, pressure that nearly crushed their skulls.
"Sousei-Ou!" Darom shouted. "We beg you, we-"
Their master's power caused the entire chamber to rumble, so thick was his rage. He was tired of their words. He was tired of their excuses. He was tired of waiting. He wanted results. And he had a plan.
"Yes!" Darom shouted. "Of course, we will obey!"
The psionic pressure subsided enough for the three High Priests to rise back to their feet.
Baraom slightly trembled with fear and placed his hand over his chest. "Our own life force...he would have us use our own life force..."
Bishium glared at the priest. "Do not question the Creation King." A slight twitch of her eyes betrayed her own fear. She whispered: "Do not question..."
Kamen Rider Black blocked a kick and smashed a punch against Brugenia's face. The Rider spun forward with a reverse sidekick that slammed against the villain's chest and knocked him several steps back, but Brugenia stayed on his feet and laughed.
"You hit as hard as a bug!" Brugenia grabbed Kamen Rider Black by the helmet and slammed his forehead against the Rider's faceplate.
The villain slashed his claws across the Rider's armor with a burst of spark and slammed a knife-hand chop against his neck.
"Pretty little Rider." Brugenia slammed an elbow against the Rider's faceplate. "Pretty little armor." The villain blocked a kick and slammed a punch against the Rider's chest. "I'll tear that armor from your skin! And rip the King Stone from your bloody belly!"
Brugenia's eyes widened with rage. Black Sun slammed a roundkick against the villain's side, but Brugenia seemed oblivious of the attacks. He pushed forward with mindless savagery while punching, clawing, and kicking at Black Sun.
Kamen Rider crashed onto his back, and Brugenia leapt onto the Rider's chest and crouched down.
"Do you even realize what you're involved in?!" Brugenia smashed the back of his fist across Kamen Rider's helmet. "You're a pawn!" He struck again. "Nothing but a pawn in a sick, twisted game that is beyond you!" Again. "Beyond me!" Again. His knuckles bled from the strike. "Beyond the Syndicate!"
Brugenia lifted Kamen Rider by the neck and hurled him aside. "The Dragon is coming, and I won't be left as scrap!" The villain pounced through the air and smashed his feet against the fallen Rider's chest. "Give me that bloody King Stone! Give me the power!"
Kamen Rider slammed his fists against the sides of his own belt. "Here!"
The King Stone flashed with blinding rays that sparked across Brugenia and knocked the villain aside.
Legs wobbling with fatigue, Black Sun climbed back to his feet and stepped into a fighting stance. "All I know, is that you, and the rest of the Syndicate, are going to die. Every one of you. Nothing else matters."
Brugenia's body tensed with rage. He screamed, a horrible screeching noise, and dashed at the Rider to attack. Brugenia swung his claws towards Kamen Rider, but Black Sun blocked the blow and slammed an uppercut against the villain's gut. Brugenia smashed a knee against Kamen Rider Black's midsection and swung an elbow across the Rider's head, but Black Sun spun with the blow and slammed a reverse sidekick against the villain's chest.
Brugenia stumbled backward, and Kamen Rider Black moved forward with a jumpkick upside the villain's head and a spinning heel kick across the head. The blow knocked black ichor from the creature's jaws.
Black Sun stepped towards the villain and slammed a blow against his face, shattering his nose. The villain hissed and ducked low, slashing his claws across Black Sun's armor with a burst of spark, and while the villain was crouched, Black Sun smashed a knee upside the mutant's head and an elbow against the back of his neck, dropping Brugenia to the ground.
"Battle Hopper!" Kamen Rider called out.
Black Sun's motorcycle raced to the scene. Kamen Rider leapt up, flipped backward through the air, and landed on the bike. He opened the throttle to full and sped past Brugenia while knocking the villain aside.
Kamen Rider popped a wheelie, and the bike leapt through the air towards Kyoko. His cycle landed on the cliff near the captured girl, and Black Sun immediately untied her as she stirred awake. "What is...what..."
Kyoko's body tightened, and she almost panicked.
"Stay calm," Black Sun said. "I'm getting you out of here."
He helped her onto the back of his bike as Brugenia leapt through the air to attack the Rider.
Kamen Rider Black opened his throttle to full and sped from the cliff, and he passed the villain in midair while reaching out a leg and smashing a kick against the mutant's side. The kick knocked Brugenia from the air, and the villain slammed against the rock side before tumbling down to the ground.
Battle Hopper hit the dirt, and Black Sun sped into the distance.
Each glow of the transparent cocoon was more dim, a sign that Saske was dying, his life force weakening. This was something the High Priests could not allow to happen.
The three robed villains surrounded the cocoon and looked up at the one who was to become Shadow Moon.
"You realize what this means," Darom said to his fellow priests. "Our forms will be-"
"Do not say it." Bishium clutched her robes as her body shivered. "Just act..."
The High Priests lowered their heads, extended their arms, and rolled back their sleeves to expose their pale flesh. Organic tubes suddenly lashed out from the cocoon and burrowed into the priests' arms, and the tubes pulsed with energy as they drained precious life force.
Hikaru led Kyoko into a cave, where they ducked for cover and waited silently. Kyoko could barely believe what she was going through. It felt like just moments ago she believed her life was about to return to normal with Saske back- but now things had taken a turn towards something even more unusual.
She couldn't bring herself to look into Hikaru's eyes. "How long do we have to wait here?"
"Not too much longer," Hikaru said as he tore a piece of cloth from his shirt and bandaged a wound on his arm. "Long enough for Brugenia to move on. My healing factor should-"
"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked and looked at him for the first time. She noticed a look of shame and pain in his eyes. "Is this why you've been avoiding me?"
"Kyoko..." Hikaru said. "This isn't the time."
"I deserve answers," she said. "What's happening? What happened to you? Why did...why...oh, Hikaru, just tell me what's going on before I go crazy. Unless I already am crazy."
"You're not," Hikaru said. "It's complicated..."
"We have time," she said. "No more secrets. I deserve to know. Now tell me. Tell me everything."
Hikaru sighed and lowered his gaze, and with great reluctance, he told her everything.
Brugenia gave up his pursuit and returned to the lair of the Three High Priests, who were nowhere in sight. The villain's first instinct was to suspect a trap, but something seemed wrong.
Then he noticed it- the cocoon was gone. What had happened?
Brugenia heard a hissing noise come from the shadows, and he snapped into a fighting stance with his claws primed and ready to strike.
From the shadows, he saw three mutant creatures step forth. The mutant in the center looked like his entire body was encased in fossils, and a pair of antenna stretched from his head. Similar antenna looked like they were grasping the mutant's pale-white face. To his right was a mutant covered with splotches of red and black fur. He had the face of a jaguar, but with tusks like a walrus stabbing from his jaws. The woman of the group looked bird-like, with leathery wings beneath her arms and black feathers instead of hair. Half her face was pale white, and the other half of her face was blue.
Brugenia took a step back- more because of surprise than fear- when he recognized them. They were the Three High Priests. "What have you psychos done to yourselves?"
"Brugenia..." Darom spoke through a thin mouth etched in his fossil-like face. "We should not have allowed you to live.
Baraom merely growled, completely overtaken by the ferocity of his new form.
Bishium glared at the mutant. "Because of you, we had to use our own life energy to revive Shadow Moon. Now..we have reverted back..." Her eyes slightly lowered, and she shuddered at the sight of her own black body. "Back to this."
"Shadow Moon?" Brugenia asked. "He is-?"
"Awake," a booming voice said from the shadows. "No thanks to you, mutant."
From the shadows stepped a silver-armored figure whose bug-like eyes glowed with emerald-green power. His name was Akizuki Saske. Shadow Moon.
Brugenia snarled when he saw Shadow Moon's belt, which contained a King Stone, just has Black Sun's belt.
"I suppose you think you're something special...just because of that glowing rock in your damned gut!" Brugenia spat.
"You are no longer needed, Brugenia," Shadow Moon said. "The Creation King has spoken through me. You are to be discarded. But know that your death won't be nearly as worthless as your existence. You have the privilege of being my first victim."
Brugenia hissed and pounced at Shadow Moon to attack. The villain swung both claws towards Shadow Moon's face, but the Rider caught the mutant by the wrists and kicked Brugenia upside the head. Shadow Moon pressed forward with a pair of punches that smashed against Brugenia's gut and a sidekick that knocked the mutant off his feet.
Brugenia flipped back into a crouched position and pounced at Shadow Moon, and the two opponents exchanged blows.
Shadow Moon's movements were rigid, but brutal, simple, and efficient. He was nowhere near as agile as Brugenia, who's attacks made him look like he was moving through a savage, sloppy dance. But what Shadow Moon lacked in agility he made up with in strength.
Brugenia snapped a kick towards Shadow Moon. But the Rider used one arm to catch the leg and slammed his second elbow against Brugenia's kneecap. The mutant screamed as his leg snapped loud enough to echo through the room.
Shadow Moon used his hold on Brugenia's leg to lift the mutant and slam him against the floor back-first.
"You worthless gnat." Shadow Moon slammed his boot against Brugenia's face and pressed his head against the floor. "With your final thoughts, know that you were beaten by the next Creation King. Know that you were beaten by a god."
Shadow Moon pushed his heel down harder and crushed the mutant's head.
Hikaru and Kyoko had spoke for hours before he dropped her off at her home and left. Part of him felt guilty for having ignored her for so long. But an even greater part of him wished that she never would have learned the truth, which was too great a burden.
The teen leaned forward on his motorcycle and throttled across the empty street that stretched onto the countryside. But suddenly, a bright flash of light splashed across the road up ahead, and Hikaru screeched his bike to a halt.
He pulled off his helmet and looked to the pale green light to see Shadow Moon step forth.
"Minami Hikaru," Shadow Moon said. "My...brother."
Hikaru opened his eyes wide. "Saske?"
Shadow Moon laughed, a low chuckle of wicked amusement. "This body was Akizuki Saske. As was this mind. But now...now there is only Shadow Moon. The one you knew as Saske is dead."
The evil Rider lifted his arm and stretched his gaping hand towards Hikaru. "I have come to deliver a message, Black Sun. You and I were destined to fight to the death. And fight we will. For now, my body is still...adjusting to my birth. But once I am in my prime...I will destroy you. And I will become the Creation King.
"When we do battle...do not hold back. Do not let your sentiment of Akizuki Saske cloud your mind. I expect a grand battle. A grand fight. If anything, let the memory of your brother fuel you. After all...it is because of me that he is dead. So, Black Sun, I expect to be battled as such."
Hikaru narrowed his eyes, and his heart pounded in his chest. Sorrow, guilt, and anger clutched his throat. He stared hard at Shadow Moon, the Rider who had once been Saske.
"Count on it," Hikaru said. "Count on it..."
To be continued...Chapter Five