Kamen Rider Black: Chapter Eight

The Last Priest

 

Black Sun and Shadow Moon’s battle had broken the ground. The earth trembled, and the landscape near the shore crumbled. The land tore open, spilling downward, and sending Kamen Rider Black’s body tumbling into the ocean.

 

Katusmi and Kyoko barely managed to run for cover to avoid the collapse. They screamed as they ran back towards the edge of the cliff. They looked down, and watched as the waves carried Back Sun away.

 

***

 

The shadowy dome pealed back from Tokyo after Kamen Rider’s battle with Shadow Moon. Even without the dome, panic intensified within the city and spread across the country. The Gorgom Syndicate mounted a massive, bloody offensive that lacked cohesiveness or strategy. They just wanted to cause chaos. And they succeeded.

 

High Priest Darom stood on a top of a tall building and hurled bolts of blue lightning down on the panicked, rioting citizens below.

 

“Listen to me, humans!” he shouted. “You have no hope! No tomorrow! Kamen Rider Black is dead!”

 

***

 

A day passed. Kyoko ran into the Capital Café, sat at the bar, and buried her head in her arms to cry. Hikaru was dead. The Japanese people were rioting or fleeing- no in between. And she didn’t know what to do.

 

Katsumi walked up behind the girl and laid a hand on her shoulder. “Kyoko…”

 

“No,” Kyoko said as she raised her head. “I don’t want to die, but…I don’t want to leave either. I can’t.”

 

“I want to stay too,” Katsumi said. “But do you remember Hikaru’s last words?”

 

“I haven’t forgotten” Kyoko said. “But...but it’s only been one day, and…Hikaru’s dead? This? I can’t believe that. Even though I saw it, I can’t.”

 

“I dare not believe it either,” Katsumi said with a reassuring smile. “Right now, Hikaru’s alive somewhere. I choose to believe that. That’s why…that’s why we should listen to him all the more. We should believe that he lives, and that one day, we’ll meet again.”

 

***

 

Shadow Moon walked proudly onto the organic floor of the Gorgom lair.

 

“Victory is in my hands,” he said. “Let us begin the crowning ceremony of the next Creation King.”

 

The ground suddenly shook, and Shadow Moon struggled to keep his balance. The voice of the Creation King drilled into his mind.

 

Shadow Moon, the voice said. It’s still too early for you to be crowned. You have defeated Black Sun, and now control Japan. But where is the other King Stone? Only the one who holds both King Stones can be my successor. And, if my life ends before you’ve succeeded the throne, your life will end as well.

 

“Lord Shadow Moon,” the High Priest Darom moved to his master’s side. “What is it?”

 

“Darom…” Shadow Moon regained his balance. “Take Koumori Kaijin. Commence a search for Black Sun’s body at once. Retrieve the King Stone.”

 

***

 

Shadow Moon wasn’t the only Gorgom interested in Black Sun’s body. The Whale Mutant swam through the ocean near the shore where Kamen Rider had battled Shadow Moon. Kujira Kaijin remembered Black Sun fondly and wanted to help the Rider. The mutant refused to believe Black Sun could die.

 

Kujira Kaijin saw the motionless body of Black Sun float through the water.

   

The mutant swam ahead as fast as he could, determined to save the Rider, no matter how lifeless.

 

The Whale Mutant lifted the Rider over his shoulder and swam deeper into the sea. He swam downward, to where light barely reached.

 

The ocean pressure created an underwater cave where Kujira Kaijin had retreated to heal from his wounds, after the battle between Kamen Rider Black and the High Priest Baraom. The Whale Mutant carried Black Sun into the cave while stepping out from the water.

 

An arrangement of stones sat near the rear of the cave. The stones were arranged like a bed, and the Whale Mutant carefully laid Black Sun onto the stones.   

 

Kujira Kaijin lifted a shell from the ground, and the shell steamed with a white mist. The Whale Mutant slowly waved the mist across the Rider’s body, from head to toe. The rocks beneath the Rider slowly glowed red-hot like coal.

 

***

 

A massive cruise liner pulled away from the docks and headed out to sea. Kyoko and Katsumi stood on the deck and looked out as their homeland moved farther and farther away. They were bound for America, despite the objections of those on board. Rumor said the United States was just as dangerous as Japan because of villains worse than the Gorgom. Although those villains seamed confined to one city in California.  

 

“We’re going to leave…just like this…” Katsumi said as if still convincing herself.

 

“We’ll come back,” Kyoko said as she pulled a bouquet of white flowers from a sack. “We will.”

 

She cast the flowers into the ocean.

 

***

 

The Wheel of Time turned, and did so without coincidence. The white flowers of Kyoko sank into the ocean, and the drift carried the flowers into the underwater cave of the Whale Mutant.

 

Kujira Kaijin saw the flowers and knew they were a sign. The Whale Mutant lifted the flowers from the water and placed them onto the chest of Black Sun.

 

The creature lifted his shell, this time filled with water, and poured the water over Black Sun’s body. The steaming rocks hissed and burned brighter.

 

And Kamen Rider’s hand twitched.

 

***

 

Shadow Moon collapsed to his knees in the Gorgom lair. He reached his hand over his buckler, and the King Stone within pulsed with jade-tinted energy.

 

“This…can’t be…” He tightened his hands into fists and rose to his feet. “The King Stone, the other King Stone, is resonating with power…”

 

***

 

Black Sun’s body pulsed with crimson-tinted energy as his King Stone emitted a whining noise, as if powering the Rider back up. The coals beneath the Rider burned hotter, and steam rose from his body.

 

A brilliant pulse of white light suddenly surged from the Rider’s fallen form.

 

***

 

High Priest Darom searched near the shoreline for Kamen Rider Black. A flare of light caught his eyes, and he looked towards the ocean, where a surge of energy pulsed from deep beneath the sea.

 

Darom narrowed his eyes.

 

***

 

Saske? Kyoko?

 

No…only me. Hikaru? No…only Black Sun…

 

Kamen Rider Black’s mind blurred back into focus as he sat up on the bed of rocks. He rolled his hands into fists and stood as the twisted energy of his King Stone surged within him. The dark, tainted power filled his veins with energy. He felt stronger. Harder.

 

His memories flooded him with a sense of purpose. The Gorgom. Black Sun had one purpose. To stop them.

 

Kyoko. Saske. Katsumi. A part of the Rider said goodbye to each of them. And a part of the Rider said goodbye to himself.

 

Kamen Rider Black looked to the Whale Mutant and knew: this creature, this Gorgom, had healed him from death. “Kujira Kaijin…thank you.”

 

***

 

Hikaru reverted back to his human form and returned to the war-torn streets of Japan. Sirens wailed, but no one was nearby to hear. The streets were deserted. At least, they were mostly deserted. He occasionally saw a man or woman peak out from a window, and then hide as soon as they were spotted.

 

He moved through an abandoned subdivision and into a forested area, where a group of people huddled on the ground, praying on their knees along with a priest. They weren’t praying for salvation or a miracle. They were praying for a quick end. They had lost all hope.

 

This is my fault…Hikaru thought. I lost to Shadow Moon. I hesitated. And now this. This is my responsibility.

 

Hikaru heard screams come from nearby. He looked to his side, expecting to see people fleeing from the Gorgom. But the people who were running weren’t trying to escape from the Gorgom. They were trying to escape from a jeep of young punks that chased after them.

 

One of the punks threw a net into the fleeing crowd, and the net fell on a young boy, knocking him down.

 

The jeep screeched to a halt near the boy, and the punks leapt from their vehicle to pick up their catch.

 

Hikaru rolled his hands into fists. He leapt through the air and tackled the punks away, knocking them back. He stood between the netted boy and punks.

 

“What are you doing with this child?” Hikaru demanded.

 

The punks pulled themselves to their feet and regrouped, amused at the sight of Hikaru protecting the boy.

 

“So…someone thinks he’s a hero,” one of the punks said.

 

“I’ll ask again.” Hikaru stayed firm. “What are you doing with this child?”

 

“Using him as a sacrifice, of course,” answered one of the punks, a girl named Rika.

 

Hikaru narrowed his eyes. “What?”

 

“These Gorgom creatures,” Rika said. “They need to eat. He’s food. It’s that simple. Keeping these freaks well-fed keeps them off our backs.”

 

Hikaru narrowed his eyes. “You’re willing to sacrifice a child’s life to save your own?”

 

Rika waved her companions forward. “Shut him up.”

 

The punks moved in to attack, but Hikaru easily batted them side with a series of quick punches and kicks. After a year of fighting the Gorgom’s mutated creatures, a bunch of street thugs proved no challenge.

 

The thugs cowered back, piling into their jeep. Rika glared at Hikaru. “We’ll remember this.”

 

The jeep’s tires screeched against the dirt as the vehicle rode off.

 

From the shadows of the treetops nearby, the Bat Mutant watched unseen. And his eyes opened wide with horror at the site of Hikaru. Black Sun.

 

The creature shot into air and flew off to warn the High Priest. The sound rustled leaves and caught Hikaru’s attention, and he looked just in time to see the bat creature fly into the distance.

 

Koumori Kaijin…

 

Hikaru knew the creature would lead him back to Darom and Shadow Moon. He ran after the villain.

 

***

 

Kujira Kaijin swam back to his sea cave after escorting Black Sun back to the shore. The Whale Mutant felt satisfied for the first time since selling his soul to the Gorgom. He had saved Black Sun. Maybe now the Gorgom would be destroyed, and he could know peace at the sea.

 

The Whale Mutant stopped in his tracks when he noticed a figure move within the darkness.

 

“I see you have returned, creature,” Darom said as he stepped from the shadows. “Where is the corpse of Kamen Rider Black? Don’t tell me he has really come back to life…”

 

Whale Mutant was no fighter. He backed away from the High priest and leapt into the ocean to swim away.

 

“Damn you,” Darom cursed as he followed. “I won’t let you escape so easily, creature…”

 

***

 

The Whale Mutant stepped onto the rocky shore just as the Bat Mutant swooped down from the air. The bat flew past the whale and clawed the creature with a burst of spark that knocked him off his feet. Kujira Kaijin scrambled back to his feet and backed away as the Bat Mutant landed.

 

Nearby, the High Priest Darom stepped out from the water.

 

“You’ve done well, bat creature,” Darom said. “First, finish off this whale. Then, send Kamen Rider back to Hell.”

 

Darom thrust his palm forward and fired an invisible burst of energy that knocked the Whale Mutant onto his back.

 

The Bat Mutant leapt into the air and swooped downward, and the Whale Mutant rolled aside to dodge the bat’s dive. The bat landed hard against the rocks, rose to its feet, and spun while slashing across the whale’s chest, knocking the creature to the ground.

 

High Priest Darom slowly stalked towards the fallen mutant, and the bat creature moved to the High Priest’s side.  

 

“Go to Hell, whale creature!”

 

Nearby, Hikaru had followed Bat Mutant to the shore. He looked down from a cliff and saw the battle below. The High priest Darom was about to strike Whale Mutant down.

 

Hikaru leapt through the air and tackled Kujira Kaijin aside, just as Darom fired streams of blue lightning that exploded across the ground with bursts of spark and flame.   

 

They rolled to safety, and Hikaru helped the injured whale creature sit up.

 

“Minami Hikaru…” Whale Mutant said fondly.

 

Darom glared at the hero. “So…you’re still alive, Kamen Rider.”

 

The High Priest fired invisible energy bursts that sparked around Hikaru and the Whale Mutant. Hikaru draped Whale Mutant’s arm over his shoulder and led the creature across the shoreline to safety. He found a pile of rocks to set the Whale Mutant aside, and then turned his attention back towards the High Priest.

 

Hikaru leapt through the air and grabbed hold of the twisted energy that raged within his gut. “Black Sun!”

 

Energy flashed around him as he transformed into his armor.

 

Black Sun leapt past the Bat Mutant while kicking the creature in the back, and aimed a flying sidekick towards Darom. Darom dodged, and Black Sun landed against the side of a cliff, which he used to push off and leap back towards the High Priest.  

 

Kamen Rider slammed a flying kick against Darom, and the impact knocked the priest off his feet and sent him tumbling across the rocks.

 

The villain slowly pulled himself to his feet, clutching his injured chest. “This…can’t be. He’s stronger than before…”

 

Kamen Rider Black grabbed hold of Bat Mutant and hurled the creature to the ground. The creature slammed against the rocks, his wings flailing about as he tumbled backward. 

 

High Priest Darom stepped over to the fallen Bat Mutant. “Don’t think this is over, Kamen Rider!”

 

They vanished in a burst of lightning.

 

***

 

Shadow Moon stared off into the darkness of his lair.

 

“Kamen Rider…Black Sun…you live…”

 

The villain held his ruby-red blade at the ready. “You live only to die again.”

 

***

 

Hikaru led Whale Mutant into the war-torn streets. He didn’t want to leave the injured mutant exposed on the shore. He found an abandoned warehouse yard and leaned Whale Mutant against a parked truck.

 

Rika and her Gorgom loyalists watched from a safe distance while staying out of sight.

 

“What’s he doing?” one of her cronies asked.

 

“Shut up or he’ll hear you,” Rika warned.

 

The punks heard footsteps from behind, and they turned to see Darom stalking towards them. They wanted to panic and run, but they froze with fear.

 

“There’s no need to be afraid,” Darom said. “You’re friends of the Gorgom, are you not?”

 

***

 

Bat Mutant swooped down towards a mother and her child. The creature used its feet to lift the girl, who screamed as her mother called her name. Bat Mutant flew away while hovering low. The girl’s mother ran after the creature while screaming for her daughter.

 

Nearby, Hikaru heard the screams. He looked to Whale Mutant. “Stay here.”

 

Hikaru ran off towards the screams, leaving the Whale Mutant leaning against the truck.

 

The Whale Mutant placed its hand over its injured chest and leaned back, trying to make the pain subside. But he could not. Perhaps his pain was penance for a lifetime of service to evil.

 

Kujira Kaijin heard footsteps, and he looked to see Rika and her gang walk towards him. The Whale Mutant started to get up to run, but Rika stopped him. “Don’t be alarmed.”

 

Her gang surrounded the Whale Mutant, cornering him back.

 

“We don’t want to hurt you. We want you to come with us,” Rika said. “If you do, you’ll be safe.”

 

The Whale Mutant didn’t believe a word, but he knew better than to try fighting. He was defeated. Not by Darom. Not by any Gorgom. But by humans.

 

The creature lifted his hands, and the gang tied his wrists together with chains.

 

***

 

The Bat Mutant flew low while carrying the girl. Hikaru ran towards the creature from behind, passing the girl’s mother. “Gorgom! Release that child!”

 

Hikaru leapt into the air and grabbed hold of the tainted power that twisted through his veins. “Black Sun!”

 

He transformed into his armor while in midair and reached towards the girl. He grabbed hold of her legs, twisted her free from the mutant, and landed on the ground while holding her in his arms. He set the girl down, and she ran towards her mother.

 

Black Sun turned to face the Bat Mutant, but the creature flew sporadically, hovering and cackling, but not attacking.

 

What the hell’s going on? Black Sun thought. He doesn’t want to fight?

 

The Bat Mutant turned and flew away, leaving Kamen Rider standing alone. This was a ploy…

 

Kamen Rider ran back to the warehouse park. He sprinted to where he left Whale Mutant. But the creature was gone.

 

Black Sun noticed tire tracks in the mud nearby and instantly recognized the pattern.

 

Them…

 

***

 

Whale Mutant hung upside down in an abandoned warehouse. They poked and taunted the creature, waiting for Darom to arrive.

 

The High Priest stepped into the warehouse and looked to the Whale Mutant.

 

“Very good…” he said.

 

Rika cautiously walked towards him. “We did as you said and brought him here. Are we spared?”

 

“No…no, I think not.”

 

“What? We had a deal?”

 

The Bat Mutant swooped down from the ceiling, grabbed a punk by the neck, and hurled him through the warehouse. The punks scattered and screamed as Bat Mutant swooped down again.

 

Darom turned towards Whale Mutant. “Do you understand your true purpose now, creature? You’re bait.”

 

Bat Mutant hurled another punk through the warehouse.

 

“They’re of no use to me now,” Darom shouted to Bat Mutant. Send them to their deaths and be done with it.”

 

Suddenly, Kamen Rider Black throttled through a nearby wall on Battle Hopper.

 

Black Sun leapt from his bike and slammed a flying kick against Bat Mutant, knocking the creature from the air. Kamen Rider Black landed in front of the fallen punks and turned, snapping into a fighting stance to face Darom.

 

The High Priest thrust his hands forward and fired an invisible energy wave that wrapped around Kamen Rider, knocking him slightly off balance. The energy wave tightened around the Rider, and Darom used the power to lift Black Sun from the ground and hurl him through the air.

 

Black Sun crashed onto the ground and rolled into a crouched fighting stance, and Darom thrust his palms forward, firing bolts of blue lightning that wrapped around Black Sun. The bolts of energy tied around the Rider’s body like ropes, pinning his arms in place and nearly crushing his chest. Black Sun tried to move, but the energy ropes held him firmly in place.   

 

“Black Sun,” Darom said. “This is your doomsday!”

 

The Bat Mutant swooped towards Black Sun to attack. But before the creature could strike, Whale Mutant moaned with a low humming noise that seemed to throw the bat off course. The bat Mutant swooped past Kamen Rider and crashed against a beam.

 

Bat Mutant flew back and tried attacking again, but his wings carried him sideways.

 

Whale Mutant hummed louder, emitting a sonar that threw off the bat’s radar sense.  

 

Darom glared at the whale creature. “Damn you, whale-”

 

Bat Mutant swooped out of control and crashed against the High Priest, knocking them both to the ground.

 

With Darom down, the energy ropes around Kamen Rider loosened, and Black Sun pulled free. The Kamen Rider leapt upward and somersaulted through the air towards the Whale Mutant.

 

Kamen Rider landed and freed Whale Mutant from his chains.

 

“We keep saving each other…” Kamen Rider said.

 

High Priest Darom and Bat Mutant scrambled outside to regroup, and Black Sun followed.

 

Outside, Kamen Rider leapt at Darom with a flying punch. But Darom thrust his hands forward and fired invisible energy blasts that knocked Black Sun backward. Black Sun crashed into a pile of crates but quickly rolled to his feet and snapped into a fighting stance to face off with his enemy.

 

They started to circle around one another, but Kamen Rider lunged towards the High Priest to attack. Darom used his invisible energy blast to flip the Rider overhead. Black Sun twisted through the air, landed behind the villain, and turned while snapping into a fighting stance.

 

Nearby, the punks tried to sneak away from the warehouse, but Bat Mutant flew after them. Rika and her cronies screamed and ran.  

 

Bat Mutant swooped towards the punks, but Kamen Rider Black leapt through the air with a flying sidekick that knocked Bat Mutant to the ground.

 

Kamen Rider Black landed, and Bat Mutant scrambled to his feet and lunged towards the Rider. Black Sun spun a roundhouse kick that knocked the creature off its feet.

 

Black Sun moved in to continue the attack. But Darom swung his palm towards the Rider and fired a bolt of blue energy that sparked against Black Sun’s armor and hurled him backward. Black Sun slammed against a wall and crashed against the ground.

 

Bat Mutant stalked towards the punks, who cowered back in fear. They were too beaten to run.

 

Whale Mutant limped from the warehouse doors and leaned towards the bat creature. The whale’s blowhole blew a cloud of white mist that surrounded Bat Mutant. The mist sizzled and foamed across the Bat Mutant’s body, forcing the creature to its knees.

 

Darom charged his energy blasts and hurled a bolt of lightning towards Whale Mutant. Kamen Rider Black leapt in between Darom and Whale Mutant to protect the creature, and the blast exploded against his back with a burst of spark.

 

The blast nearly knocked Kamen Rider to his feet, but Black Sun briefly staggered and kept his balance while turning to face the High Priest.

 

Black Sun looked towards Bat Mutant, who crouched down close by as foam sizzled across his body. Kamen Rider stalked towards the creature, then snapped a roundhouse kick that knocked the mutant across the head, whipping its body aside.

 

Kamen Rider looked back towards the High Priest and stepped forward into a fighting stance. Darom looked taken aback, surprised at the Kamen Rider’s strength.

 

Darom hurled bolts of lightning at Kamen Rider, but Black Sun placed his fists together over his belt buckler.

 

“King Stone Flash!”

 

Black Sun’s buckler pulsed with light and energy that reflected Darom’s attack. The blasts surged towards Darom and exploded against his body with massive bursts of spark that tore through his shell.

 

Black Sun leapt through the air with a flying punch that pulsed with crimson power. “Rider Punch!”

 

The punch slammed against Darom with a surge of power that knocked the High Priest through the air. Darom crashed against the ground, rolling across the pavement, and stumbled to his feet, barely able to keep his balance.  

 

Black Sun leapt through the air with a flying kick that pulsed with crimson power. “Rider Kick!”

 

The kick slammed against Darom with a burst of spark that shot the High Priest backward. Darom smashed against a wall, which cracked on impact, and crashed onto the ground.

 

Cracks formed across the High Priest’s armored shell as secondary explosions sparked across his body, ripping through his flesh and bone. A final explosion erupted from his core with a pulse of flame, consuming his body into nothingness as his ashes scattered into smoke.  

 

Bat Mutant’s fear overrode its pain. The creature leapt upward and flew off into the skies.  

 

Rika and her punks helped Whale Mutant stay on his feet. Rika looked to the creature with gratefulness and regret. “You…I can’t believe you…I’m sorry.”

 

She looked towards Black Sun. “Kamen Rider…”

 

“You tried to sacrifice children,” Black Sun said. Children.”

 

Rika lowered her head with shame.

 

“This is your chance for redemption,” Black Sun said.

 

Rika looked upward. A grim look of determination crossed her face, and she buried her shame with anger. Anger at herself. Anger at the creatures that had turned her into something worse than a monster.

 

“We’ll fight,” she said. “We won’t be afraid anymore.”

 

***

 

“What?” Shadow Moon asked. “High Priest Darom is dead?”

 

Bat Mutant nodded, foam sizzling through his worn body as he kneeled on the floor, weakened. He collapsed, and the foam consumed him from within. The mutant’s own energy overloaded and exploded with a burst of fire.

 

Shadow Moon looked through the lingering flames.  

 

“Black Sun…I will declare it here,” Shadow Moon said. “I will personally take you down and succeed as king.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 09