Kamen Rider Kuuga: Chapter One
Several archeologists studied their latest find, deep within a tomb outside of Cairo. They set up lamps and cameras along the tomb walls, etched with strange hieroglyphs no one recognized. The tomb stank of dust and sulfur.
Professor Natsume led the group, made up of the brightest archeologists from around the world.
They turned their attention to a stone casket in the center of the tomb. The casket sat upright, and its stone lid was etched with a single symbol: a bug-like mask.
“Open it slowly,” Natsume said. “We don’t want to damage it.”
Five workers angled the casket backward, and another three men pried the casket open while sliding the stone lid aside. Inside was a mummified figure dressed in a strange belt that looked metallic.
“Professor…” one of the team members said as he placed a hand on the professor’s shoulder. “It doesn’t say anywhere that we’ll be cursed if we touch this thing, does it?”
“We’ve already touched it,” Natsume said. “Now move your hand and stop being stupid.”
Maya hunched over her computer within a small third-floor office. She shuffled through the papers on her desk, decorated with a sole picture of her younger brother Simon along with her friends Jason, Tommy, Zack, Billy, Trini and Kimberly. She missed them, but she had too much of her grandfather’s desire for exploration and discovery to stay in America.
Maya heard footsteps from behind, and from the reflection on her monitor, saw a masked man sneak towards her. She would have been frightened, but she knew exactly who it was.
“I know it’s you, Kouishiro,” Maya said with a smile. “Nice try.”
Kouishiro removed the Aztec mask. The young Asian man flashed a boyish grin and shrugged. “I do what I can…what are you working on?”
Maya turned back to her computer. “The latest dig site. It’s…strange. A mix of characters I’ve never seen before.”
Kouishiro leaned forward to look at her computer. “Can you translate?”
Maya nodded. “I think so…some of the symbols have characteristics I’ve seen in the data my grandfather left behind.”
Various symbols scrolled across Maya’s screen.
One of the glyphs caught Kouishiro’s eye: a bug-like mask. He had no idea what it meant, but he somehow knew it was a powerful omen. A sign of dangerous things to come.
Professor Natsume and his team ran studies of the mummified figure and surrounding chamber. One of the men recorded all the findings, taking video footage of everything and anything that seemed important.
The camera man was looking over a line of symbols etched onto a rear wall when he heard a gut-wrenching scream come from further down the tomb. He turned, eyes wide with horror as he dropped his camera. His screams quickly joined the others that flooded the tomb.
Maya’s cell phone rang, slightly startling her. She found cell phones annoying. Unfortunately, they were a necessity. The phone’s caller ID let her know the call came from the dig site.
“Hello?” Maya answered.
She heard only screaming.
Maya’s face grew pale as the line disconnected.
“What is it?” Kouishiro asked.
“The tomb site,” Maya said. “Something’s gone wrong.”
Kouishiro grabbed his jacket and ran towards the door.
Kouishiro arrived at the dig site to find local police along with other officials. They dressed in various suits and trench coats and wore dark sunglasses. Scientists walked to and from the tomb’s entrance while hauling away the remains of the research team’s equipment.
Kouishiro casually walked towards the tomb’s entrance, passing officers and scientists as if he belonged.
A Japanese man in a trench coat spotted Kouishiro.
“Hey…hey!” the man shouted. He moved towards Kouishiro and blocked the youth’s path. “You…who are you?”
Kouishiro looked over his shoulder as if oblivious, then looked back to the man. “Who? Me?”
“Yes, you,” the man said. “Are you part of the research team?”
“Not officially, no,” Kouishiro said. “Unofficially, yes. I’m with Maya Koji, she’s one of the research assistants. She’s absolutely amazing, you should see-”
Two officers moved in and grabbed hold of Kouishiro, but he shrugged them aside and ran towards the tomb.
Kouishiro stumbled over a stone and nearly fell, but the trench-coated man grabbed hold of him.
“Nice move, Mister…police man,” Kouishiro said with a boyish smile.
The man sighed and let Kouishiro go. “Get out of here. Before I have you arrested.”
“Not a problem,” Kouishiro said while giving the officer a thumbs up. “I’ll go. See? This is me…going.”
Kouishiro backed away and walked from the tomb. He didn’t understand what had happened, but whatever it was had everyone freaked the hell out.
A scientist bumped into Kouishiro while rushing past him from behind. The man carried a thick-plastic bag with an odd belt inside. The belt looked thick and metallic. It had to have been one of the researcher’s pieces of equipment, because it looked too high-tech to be an artifact. At the same time, the belt had a rusted, ancient look, as if left untouched for hundreds of years.
The belt caught the sunlight, which reflected at Kouishiro, catching his eye. He stumbled back. Images flashed through his mind. He saw a shadowy figure battle creatures in front of an ancient temple. The scene flashed like static, then stopped.
Kouishiro shook his head to clear away the vision. What was that…?
Kouishiro met Maya back at her office just as she was getting off her phone.
“That was one of the investigators,” Maya said. “They want me to go to the police station for questioning. How bad was it?”
“I couldn’t get close,” Kouishiro said. “But it had to have been pretty bad. I’ve never seen grown men act so jumpy before.”
“I want to know what happened,” Maya said as she grabbed her purse.
Kouishiro went with Maya to the police station. They arrived at the building and walked towards the entrance, and one of the detectives met them outside. Kouishiro recognized the man immediately.
“You,” Kouishiro said. “Mr. Policeman.”
“It’s Ichijo,” he said as he extended his hand. “Kaoru Ichijo.”
“Kaoru…” he said with the slightest hint of annoyance.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Maya said.
“You as well,” he said to her. “I was a fan of your grandfather’s work.”
“Really?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said. “He was a great man.”
“So who are you again?” Kouishiro asked.
“I’m an agent with U.S. Intelligence,” Ichijo said. “I’m with a covert division called Section 31. We investigate…anomalies…like the incident at the dig site.”
“So you’re a Japanese U.S. Intelligence agent in Egypt?”
“…OK, just checking.”
“Yes, well, come inside,” Ichijo said. “We have a lot to talk about.”
Ichijo led Maya and Kouishiro into a large conference room. Maya and Kouishiro sat around a U-shaped table, and Ichijo stood on the opposite side of the table while holding a DVD.
“We salvaged this recording from the dig site,” he said. He pulled a remote from his pocket and turned on a flat-screen television mounted on the wall. “I made a copy for you to see…”
The footage showed a darkened tomb, dimly-lit. Maya and Kouishiro watched as the digital video distorted. Through the distortions, they saw a shadowy figure hurl screaming workers left and right. The figure looked man-shaped but monstrous, with curled hair and claws for fingers.
The monster snapped Professor Natsume’s neck and tossed the body aside. The professor’s lingering scream echoed in the tomb, and then all fell silent. The man-shaped creature hunched and limped towards the tomb’s exit.
Ichijo turned off the video. “We don’t know what that shadowy figure is,” Ichijo said. “But we think we have the key to unlocking that secret.”
Ichijo pulled a suitcase from the floor and placed it on the table in front of Maya. He opened the suitcase, and inside was the belt Kouishiro had seen at the dig site.
“We’ve never seen anything like the glyphs on this belt,” Ichijo said. “We have our best people working on deciphering the language, but I’d like you to have a look too.”
Maya’s eyes opened wide with excitement. “That’s incredible,” she said as she lifted the belt from the case. “This shouldn’t be too difficult. I’ve already made progress with the glyphs in the tomb.”
“Really?” Ichijo asked.
Maya nodded. “Like this glyph here…” she said as she pointed to a character on the side of the belt. “This was in the tomb, and I think I know what it means.”
“What?” Kouishiro asked.
“Power,” she said. “It means power.”
An officer walked into the room and pulled Ichijo aside. The officer whispered into the detective’s ear, and his face whitened. Ichijo nodded and sent the officer away. He looked back towards Kouishiro and Maya.
“I’m afraid there’s been somewhat of a disturbance in the city,” he said. “I have to go, but I’ll escort you out.”
Police cars swerved to a stop, to where webbing had grown to connect two buildings on opposite sides of the street. Officers stepped from their cars and fanned out. They drew their guns and looked up, to where a humanoid creature crawled on the webbing, about 10 stories up.
The creature lunged downward while connected with a webline, grabbed two officers, and snapped back towards the web.
The police opened fire, but the creature leapt from the web and landed on a car behind them.
“Come…” the monster gurgled. “My food…”
The officers panicked and scrambled backward while screaming. They opened fire, but their bullets bounced harmlessly off the creature’s body, as if shooting pellets against rubber.
The creature leapt to the pavement, grabbed an officer by the head, and smashed the cop’s head through a car window that shattered.
The creature, Zu-Gumun-Ba, tossed the officer aside like a rag doll. He leapt onto another officer, pinned him against the hood of a car, and bashed in his skull with a back-hand strike.
One of the officers scrambled into his vehicle and frantically drove off. Zu-Gumun-Ba looked to the car, opened its mandibles, and thwipped a webline that shattered through the rear window and wrapped around the officer’s neck. Zu-Gumun-Ba lunged forward, letting his webline reel him towards the cop car.
Ichijo led Kouishiro and Maya down a winding stairwell that led to the building’s wide lobby, with ceiling-to-floor windows that looked out upon the street. They stepped onto the white-tiled floor and walked towards the glass doors ahead.
“Contact me directly after you’ve translated the belt,” Ichijo said.
A cop car suddenly crashed through the lobby windows, skid across the floor, and plowed over a nearby desk. Kouishiro grabbed Maya and dove for cover as shattered glass rained around them.
The car door slowly opened, and out stepped the spider creature. Zu-Gumun-Ba tilted his head as if he heard something, then he looked towards Kouishiro and Maya, who crouched near the lobby desk. Their suitcase had spilled open, making the belt visible.
“A Stone of Kings…” the monster gurgled, just as security flooded into the lobby.
Zu-Gumun-Ba casually swatted two security officers aside. Police shot at the creature, but the monster ignored the bullets and stalked towards two cowering police officers. He hurled one of the officers across the room and slammed a back-hand strike across the other officer’s head.
Police took position on the lobby stairwell and shot at the creature. Zu-Gumun-Ba leapt onto the stairwell and knocked the cops aside one-by-one while snapping their bones and bashing through their heads.
Zu-Gumun-Ba turned his attention to the only two people still conscious: Kouishiro and Maya.
“Maya, run,” Kouishiro said.
Zu-Gumun-Ba pounced towards the two teenagers just as Kouishiro pushed Maya aside and dove across the floor. The creature landed against the floor, then turned its attention towards Kouishiro. Zu-Gumun-Ba swung its palm towards Kouishiro, but the teen dove across the ground while instinctively grabbing the belt.
Kouishiro rolled into a crouched position and snapped the belt around his waist. The belt’s buckler pulsed with blinding light, and the belt itself merged into Kouishiro’s body as he screamed with pain.
The light dissipated, and Kouishiro looked down to the bruises around his waist where the buckler had entered his body.
Zu-Gumun-Ba pounced at Kouishiro, but the teenager dove and rolled for cover. Knowing he had the creature’s attention, he rose to his feet and dashed outside.
Kouishiro made it to the street before stumbling and falling to the pavement. He reached towards his gut, which seared with pain.
Zu-Gumun-Ba leapt towards the teen’s side and lifted him by the neck. The creature used its free hand to slam a flurry of punches against the teen’s side. The creature slammed Kouishiro’s back against a van, punched the teen in the gut several times, and tossed him onto the street.
Koushiro skid against the ground and tried to roll to his feet, but the twisted pain in his gut intensified. Zu-Gumun-Ba stalked towards the fallen teen.
“No…” Kouishiro said. “No…”
The images flashed across his mind’s eye once again. And this time the images came with a name. And a command. “Kuuga!” Kouishiro shouted. “Awaken!”
Red-orange armor covered his arm as he lunged forward and slammed a punch against the monster. Armor covered his leg, and he snapped a kick against the creature’s side. More armor covered his other arm, and he leaned forward with a combo of punches that knocked the creature backward. The armor enveloped the teenager completely as he became Kuuga. A Kamen Rider.
He collapsed to all fours, his body weakened from the exertion. Then he felt the power of his belt flow through his body, strengthening him. The Kamen Rider looked over his new armor as he slowly started to rise to his feet.
Zu-Gumun-Ba lunged forward and tackled the Rider back to the ground. Kuuga pushed himself to his feet, but the creature slammed an uppercut punch against the Rider’s gut, and the impact hurled the Rider backward through the air.
Kuuga crashed against the ground hard, and the spider creature stalked towards him.
Kamen Rider Kuuga rose to his feet and looked to the van at his side. Kuuga moved to the front of the van and pushed the vehicle towards Zu-Gumun-Ba like a battering ram. The van crashed against Zu-Gumun-Ba and smashed him against a concrete wall, which crumbled on impact.
Zu-Gumun-Ba placed his hands on the van. “You won’t make it, Kuuga. You won’t make it out of this battle alive.”
The creature pushed the van backward with tremendous force that knocked Kamen Rider Kuuga aside.
Zu-Gumun-Ba opened its mandibles and thwipped a webline that wrapped around Kuuga’s neck. The creature shot into the air and leapt onto the side of a building, several stories up. Zu-Gumun-Ba snapped its head, whipping the Rider off his feet, and smashing him against the side of the building.
Kuuga crashed against the wall and started to slide downward, but he grabbed hold of a gutter to steady himself. The gutter snapped, and the Rider swung backward, but he managed to grab hold of a balcony.
Kamen Rider Kuuga pulled himself up and climbed to the rooftop, where he collapsed to the ground, his body strained from his transformation and battle.
The spider creature leapt onto the rooftop and watched Kuuga push himself to his feet. The creature extended a pair of bone claws from his forearm, pounced forward, and stabbed the claws towards Kuuga’s head.
Kuuga sidestepped and grabbed the villain’s arm. The creature snapped its arm aside, knocking the Rider off his feet and sending him tumbling across the rooftop.
Kamen Rider Kuuga slowly rose to his feet, but the spider creature smashed a kick against the Rider’s chest, knocking him backward.
Kuuga landed back-first on the roof, and the spider creature pinned its foot against the Rider’s chest and pushed down hard.
“Ha!” Kuuga swung his leg upward and kicked the creature aside.
The spider creature stumbled across the rooftop but kept its balance.
Zu-Gumun-Ba turned, opened its mandibles, and thwipped a webline that wrapped around Kuuga’s neck. The creature swung the Rider against the ledge of the roof and pounced forward. Zu-Gumun-Ba landed against Kuuga’s chest, arcing the Rider’s back over the ledge to push him over.
A police helicopter suddenly flew over the building and hovered near the battle. Ichijo looked down from the side door of the helicopter. He watched as the spider creature tried to push the armored warrior off the building.
Ichijo fired at the creature, bullets blasting against the concrete ledge.
Zu-Gumun-Ba growled and faced the helicopter. The creature opened its mandibles and thwipped a webline that wrapped around the helicopter’s landing skid. The creature leapt upward and used the webline to reel himself into the helicopter.
Ichijo stumbled backward and shot at the creature, but his bullets bounced harmlessly off the monster’s skin.
The spider creature grabbed Ichijo by the wrist and lifted his clawed fist to strike.
Before the creature could attack, Kuuga landed in the helicopter and grabbed hold of the monster from behind. Kuuga fell back, falling out of the helicopter along with the creature, but grabbing hold of the helicopter’s landing skid.
Kuuga dangled from the landing skid as the spider creature held onto the Rider by the legs.
The force of the Rider’s pull drifted the helicopter aside.
Kamen Rider Kuuga climbed to stand on the landing skid, and the spider creature pulled himself up to stand next to the Rider.
The spider creature swung its claws towards Kuuga, but Kuuga dodged and caught the creature by the arm.
Kuuga smashed a back-fist strike against the creature’s face, knocking the monster halfway into the helicopter. Kuuga leaned against the monster and grabbed the creature in a chokehold, but the creature twisted free and bashed its palm across the Rider’s face, whipping him back. Kuuga almost stumbled from the landing skid but managed to stay on his feet.
Kamen Rider Kuuga bashed a punch against the creature, whipping the monster off its feet. The creature fell but managed to grab hold of the landing skid and hold on from below.
Kuuga stomped down, smashing his foot repeatedly against the creature’s chest to knock him loose.
But the creature crawled along the bottom of the helicopter and climbed into the craft from the opposite side.
Zu-Gumun-Ba lunged forward and grabbed Ichijo in a chokehold. The spider creature started to drag the agent from the helicopter, but Kuuga leapt into the craft and slammed a punch against the monster. The impact knocked the creature from the craft.
Kuuga leaned down and helped Ichijo steady himself against the interior of the helicopter. The Rider didn’t notice the spider creature leap into the craft from the opposite side.
Zu-Gumun-Ba grabbed hold of Kuuga from behind. The creature fell backward and almost dropped from the helicopter along with Kuuga, but Kuuga grabbed hold of the entryway just in time.
Kamen Rider Kuuga bashed his elbow against the monster several times, then swung his leg back and kicked the creature from the craft.
Zu-Gumun-Ba fell from the helicopter and crashed through the roof of a building below. The creature smashed against the floor of the building with an explosion, its body bursting into flames.
Ichijo turned towards the armored warrior who had saved him. “You…you saved me?”
The Rider hesitated, then gave the detective a thumbs up.
Ichijo narrowed his eyes. “Who are you?”
Kuuga turned and leapt from the helicopter, landing on a building below. Ichijo leaned from the helicopter and looked down at the Rider.
“He can’t be…” Ichijo whispered. “Kouishiro?”
To be continued…Chapter 02