I have to say I admire the suit actors. I mean, I always have, but this show particularly highlighted their ability to project emotion even in those suits! They were GREAT!

—´‹RVS‰¼–ʃ‰ƒCƒ_[ƒAƒMƒg

The world is red like stained glass, like wine, like blood. Monsters wade through the thick air, their breathing labored and cruel. Hungry, hungry monsters. Gazelle-types, Shark-types, soft-fuzzy mammal-types, spiked insect types. And a furious, hissing voice says "Come, come, you who call yourselves Kamen Riders! When next you come into the Miracle World, you will no longer be real, and that will be the end of you!" He alone is out of the blood-red lighting. Smoke curls blue behind him, his mask has large, oval eyes. Three spikes radiate from each side of his helmet. Flames rise.

Entering an office, a hissing sound alarming at first, but the office is still bright, clean and white. Past desks, around chairs to where the source of the hissing proves to be a young man, fast asleep at his desk and not quite snoring. His computer is on, bathing his head in blue light. His hand is still on the mouse. We bump the table and he jerks awake. He sits straight up, shaking his head, wiping the drool from his lips and babbling at the same time before he's even opened his eyes, "Um, sorry, I'll get started right away!" But now he opens his eyes and looks at us. "Oh, hey," he grins engagingly and shakes his head. "Gosh, I thought you were the editor!" He gives us a playful glare as though we'd deliberately tricked him, then grins again. "I'm Shinji Kido, Kamen Rider Ryuuki." Getting serious he tells us, "Recently the number of Kamen Riders has jumped, so I'm listing them in order to keep them straight. Like here!" and he points repeatedly at his screen. He's made a webpage. The left side lists the other riders and at the moment, it is his own image in his armor on the screen. But before he can continue, there is the strange, shimmer-sound heralding a Mirror World. breach. Shinji flinches at it, for it is loud in his ears and he stiffens to his feet. There is that edgy, ear-bursting twist to the sound makes him clutch his head in defense before it evens out. Forgetting us completely, he races out of the office and onto the night streets, heads for the large, clear windows of a nearby building, skids to a halt and summons his belt. In with the deck, on with the armor and into the glass he goes... only to come straight out the other side.

He skids to a startled halt and looks behind him. "Eh? There was no Ride Shooter." Confused, he scratches at his hips. "Well that's odd." He moves away somewhat hesitantly, talking to himself, "Hmm, I'll go." He finds his way into a factory. It is very dark here, electric lights far above. There has been no sign of any monsters since he arrived. A flashing light briefly brightens the walls. Ryuuki is very puzzled, still looking all around. He complains, "Well this is strange, what's going on?" At that moment he is struck, first in the face, then in the gut by a very fast monster. Doubling over with the pain he forces himself to straighten up, only to be hit again and fall rolling on his back with a squawk of surprised agony. And when he looks up, it is to see seven or so monsters grouped and coming at him. A Negazelle, an Abislasher, a Daydreamer, a Gelnewt, a Zenobiter, a Terabiter, a Wildboader and a Gigazelle. He leaps to his feet. When he does, they stop stalking and rush him as a group. With wild courage, he leaps to face them. He punches and kicks, pretty much succeeding at first in keeping them from closing on him as a group. He gets kicked into the Gigazelle's arms and it grabs him tight, trying to squeeze the life out of him. The others start to leap when they are hit by blast and forced away. It was Zolda, the green soldier, who had fired and he raises his gun smugly. Daydreamer and Abislasher are knocked painfully black by Knight, with his two blades (one of which is also his Visor). A heavy boot kicks back the Wildboader, Oja has arrived. Ryuuki manages to flip the Gigazelle off him, it lands on the others and they make various noises as they try to untangle themselves from the pile.

Ryuuki is panting, trying to get his breath, when the other three gather to his shoulder. Knight says, "I'm sorry, Ryuuki. We were late," he sounds sheepish. Zolda at the left asks, "You all right, Ryuuki?" Oja in the middle steps forward and says, "We've got your back." Ryuuki turns to look at them, confusion reigning. "You guys are being weird." But then the shock catches up with his and he jerks back, pointing accusingly at Oja. "ACK! Asakura, you're the bad one, right?!" The others are rather puzzled, but Oja puts a hand on Zolda's shoulder to forestall reaction. "What are you talking about, Ryuuki?" He moves closer, switching places with Knight and says hoarsely, "Have you forgotten our mission?" "Huh?" Ryuuki asks brilliantly. Knight answers him firmly, "We are protectors of humanity's -" Zolda takes over, "freedom and - " Oja finishes for them, "world peace!" Together they pose and say, "We are Kamen Riders!" Ryuuki stares blankly at them. "Eh?" Oja pulls out of it and turns to the other two, "Let's go, guys!" They cheerfully grunt obediance and follow him into battle past the dazed Ryuuki, who stands there arms limp at his side, and tries to make sense of it. He turns after then charge past him, like a lost child. They have engaged the monsters, the sound of punches, kicks and other such impacts fill the air. Ryuuki puts his hands on his hips, tilts his head, puzzling it. "This is unusual," he mutters to himself, "but what the heck! I'm fighting, too!" and he races into the fray, leaping over one tumbling monster.

Zolda throws the Zenobiter to the ground while the Abislasher makes a dash for him, he kicks it past and pursues. Oja cartwheels past to the midst of a group and punches whichever beast is nearest him. Knight fights the Daydreamer. Ryuuki ends up against the Abislasher and um.. I think it's the Gelnewt. Each of them finally manages to punch clear of their opponents, but then they are hit by powerful, flaming blasts and go flying with cries of pain. Zolda and Oja land together, Knight and Ryuuki roll in a different spot. And there is someone approaching, footsteps heavy and menacing. Oja grunts as he and the others get back to their feet, poised for more battle. They come closer to each other.

This is the black rider, with heavy, red chest plating, red helmet over enormous oval eyes. He just reeks of mass. He is Kamen Rider Agito's Burning Form. Ryuuki takes a good look at him and utters a soft "Eh?" of puzzlement. Outside, the sky is white, it is day. And then he speaks, voice a fierce growl. "You came, Riders! You'll be the dust of the Miracle World!" He twists menacingly. The others are ready to fight, but Ryuuki is still confused. He calls angrily, "What are you?" Knight answers him calmly, "That's Kamen Rider Agito." Startled, Ryuuki turns. "Kamen Rider Agito..? He's also a Kamen Rider?" Zolda looks over his shoulder and explains, "He's the true ruler of the Miracle World." Ryuuki stumbles over that, "Eh? Mi - ra - Mira - Miracle World?" But while he is still groping, their enemy is ready to fight. "Riders, you'll go to Hell!" he shouts, and tosses a bolt of fire from his left hand at them. They are hit hard and fall badly, even so, when the flames die Oja is quickest getting back to his feet. The evil Agito straightens and snarls, "DIE!!" then raises his hand to blast them again but he is hit and knocked aside by a golden blur.

Ryuuki is struggling back to his feet and lifts his head to find someone else has arrived on the scene. "Who are you?" he gasps, standing up. The man he faces has black base, silvery shoulder spikes, golden chest-plating. Sweet, red oval eyes in the mask which has two golden spikes. It is Agito, Ground Form. He straightens up proudly to answer Ryuuki. "I am Kamen Rider Agito." A bit more confused even than before, Ryuuki's head tilts. "Agito?" And he points past. "And he is also Agito?" For the evil one is getting back to his feet, enraged. "Curse you!" he snarls at the other one's back. While the more brightly colored riders stand in some confusion, the golden Agito turns to look at his enemy. He explains calmly, "He is me, and not me. He's an illusion made by the Miracle World." The statement sends the other one's hackles up, and he moves into fighting position. "You dare..!" he snarls. But Ryuuki's heard enough. "Is that so?" he hops forward and points accusingly. "You're just a fake!" Knight moves to his side and calls, "You're the one going to Hell!" Zolda is next, to snap mockingly, "What do you think of us?" And Oja moves to his side, "We're the ones who protect humanity - " he gleefully spins around, "and peace on Earth!" Ryuuki at their center, the group stands. "We are Kamen Riders!" they call. (Mind you, this is a very Sentai poze, probably deliberate).

"You filth!" snarls the evil Agito. The Miracle World monsters assemble around him and Ryuuki calls his fellow riders to go into battle. He hurtles in first and they follow a split second later. Ryuuki tangles with the Zenobiter, throwing it against some debris and punching hard. Knight has taken the Terabiter outside to fight under the gray sky. Ryuuki ends up out there, too, throwing the Zenobiter ahead of him. Zolda is doing well in the crowd. He's tangling with the Gelnewt, Wildboader, um.. and a couple of others. Oja is above them on some boxes, fighting the Abislasher which he punches down. The Gigazelle leaps up to take its place, and they tussle. He knocks it off and then leaps happily trying to land on it. The two Agitos face each other, evil kicking testingly at good. They circle slowly, the evil one growling deep in his throat.

Ryuuki kicks the Zenobiter away from him. He looks around to see the two Agitos going at it, punching and kicking viciously. The good one manages to pin the evil one by his arm and looks to Ryuuki. "NOW!" he cries urgently. "Yeah!" Ryuuki says and hauls out a card. At the same time, so are all the others. Their Final Vent cards. Knight's Darkwing shrieks and flies down to him, he leaps to join it, and it attaches to his back bringing him high into the air, and become the spinning corkscrew called "Hishouzan Flying Death!" Down like a lightning strike and the Terabiter is destroyed.

Venosnaker comes sweeping in to Oja, who leaps into his high backflip, to be sent kicking at the Gigazelle and Abeslasher in his "Veno Crash!" And Zolda's companion beast has risen out of the floor, the enormous Magna Giga. He's placed his gun in its back and all cannons open wide, "End of World" blast. Five monsters destroyed utterly, Negazelle, Daydreamer, Wildboader, Gelnewt and Zenobiter. And Ryuuki's beautiful Dragredder comes into the game with a road. A ribbon of red, it flies down to curl about him. He leaps into the air to ride the flames of its breath in at his target, the evil Agito, with his Dragonrider Kick. The Agitos are still struggling, the good one having no intention of letting his evil version escape a well-deserved blast. Just as Ryuuki comes down, he punches hard, throwing the evil Agito right into the path of attack. But that one is no fool, he spins quickly, sees what's coming at him and tries to meet it with a fireball. His power is enough to delay it for a time so small it might not have existed. He is hit, hard, flames on flames and sent flying by the impact. But he survives! He curses Ryuuki as he gets back to his feet, smoke rising from his body. Stunned, Ryuuki says "The Final Vent didn't work!" But the good Agito comes to his side. "Ryuuki, we have to pool our power, together we can defeat him!" "Right!" Ryuuki says willingly.

The spikes of good Agito's helmet fan out, now three on each side. He stands, shifts, sweeping one foot in an arc then crouches slightly, a gathering of power. Golden light pools on the floor around his feet, shaped like the gold on his helmet... shaped like a dragon's head. Ryuuki sees this and gasps in admiration. "Wow, he's great. So," and he moves vaguely like Agito had, "like this...." Golden light pools around him, too, but in the shape of the dragon-symbol on his belt. It shines and blurs, stronger even than Agito's. The two of them instinctively come together, backing up a bit. They move into crouches, Ryuuki shifted to the left, Agito to the right mirroring each other. And then together they leap high into the air. The evil Agito tries quickly to counter the power he knows is coming. "Double Rider Kick!" the pair shout. And their booted feet hit his chest plates together, senging him flying back. He lands on his back. The two young heroes land on their feet, Ryuuki panting. They are still mirroring each other. And then the evil Agito blows with a roar of fury. Fire everywhere, and it is over.

The other three come jogging over to them, saying Ryuuki's name. Ryuuki himself is stretching against the sharp pain in his back. "Ryuuki," Agito says firmly, and our boy turns to him brightly still muttering about how great he is. "We did it." "Yessir!" Ryuuki gleefully replies. But then Knight speaks firmly to him. "Ryuuki, from now on we'll pool our power and fight." He holds out the handle of his blade in promise. Touched, Ryuuki chokes out his true name, "Ren..!" Zolda puts his two cents in; "For the freedom of people and the sake of the world." Ryuuki cannot help but respond to that, too. "Kitaoka-san!" Oja is next, you can feel his gleeful grin. "We're friends, you know," he says, holding a thumb up and then flicking it across his face plate in promise, "forever." Ryuuki's knees wobble with joy. "Asakura!" "And we're so very - " they all three start to say at once, exchange amused glances then continue together, " - glad we met you." He just is almost beyong words, "Oh, guys!" he breathes. And suddenly they assemble together to tell their secret audience, "We are Kamen Riders!"


Shinji is fast asleep, head plopped on a countertop, a computer open in front of him. He scratches his cheek idly and mutters, "We are Kamen Riders... yay." He grins happily. It is Atori, and Ren is sitting beyond him at a table, reading a magazine. Bright lights make it easy to read. He finally gets up and strolls across to the sleeping man, then whaps him on the back of the head. "Stop it already." Shinji shudders awake, straightening up and rubbing the back of his head, blinking muzzily. "Oh... Ren," he greets the other man with a smile. Ren settles on a stool near him. "Just how long are you going to be sleeping there?" he scolds. But Shinji doesn't really notice it. He smiles innocently and says, "You pooled your power with me, we're buddies." Ren is highly amused and asks, "What are you babbling about?" Shinji answers him contentedly, "Buddies forever." Ren bites back total laughter, though he isn't trying to keep a straight face. "Why would you and I be buddies?" Slightly offended, Shinji lifts his chin stubbornly. "Um, well, you said for people's freedom and world peace, just before." He twirls his finger in his ear, trying to get out the wax. "I have no idea what you're talking about," Ren responds, bemused. But Shinji starts looking around, still blinking dazedly. "Yeah, you said... where're Kitaoka-san and Asakura?" Ren's eyebrows shoot up. "Why would Kitaoka or Asakura be here?" he wonders. Shinji turns back to him, "And what about um... Kamen Rider Agito?" he asks, moving his hands in the gestures Agito had made. Ren's eyes are dancing, though he manages to keep from looking fond of Shinji. He chuckles and says finally, "You're babbling nonsense, sleepy-head." But Shinji is awfully one-track minded, and gets up to look around the room. "Where did everyone go?" he complains. "You said you were happy you met me!" He shuffles about, finally turns around, "Didn't you say that, Ren?" Ren is just about to burst into laughter. Indulgently he says, "Yeah, I said that." He gets to his feet and starts around. "Yeah!" justified, Shinji is feeling better. But then Ren says, "Yeah, everyone said they would be happier if they never met you." He whaps Shinji on the shoulder with his rolled up magazine as he walks by. Shinji takes a moment to catch on and finally turns with a confused, angry expression. "What?!" He wants to offer to fight, but he can't change gears so quickly and Ren is ignoring his indignant gestures anyway. "Don't worry about it." Looking at the computer Shinji'd been using, Ren asks curiously, "By the way, did you finish your Kamen Rider reference book or whatever it is?" Shinji goes onto this subject easily. "Oh yeah here it is." He taps the keyboard to take the machine off standby and show what he's done. We see the page he's done on his own, Ryuuki, and then he starts to show Ren some of the other. "I'm finishing it now," he says. Ren, however, is again highly amused. He angles his magazine across the back of his neck and chuckles. "Fool. You stopped in the middle. That's the way you are about everything, you stop when you're not finished." Shinji casts him a glower. "Hey! I told you I'm doing it now!" With a silent snicker, Ren starts towards the stairs up to their quarters. "I doubt it," he tosses back over his shoulder. Shinji scowls and straightens up. "Hey, Ren!!" he snaps firmly. Eyes twinkling, Ren stops and looks at him. "What is it?" Shinji glares at him stubbornly. "Pool your power with mine!" He glares for a long moment, then breaks into a sheepish, pleading smile and points down at the computer, "Um, help me make this, will you?" Ren utters a snort of laughter, his eyes shining. "Stupid, aren't you," he says affectionately, then walks off. Shinji scowls and calls, "Hey, wait!" reaching forward he sets his hand down hard on the teacup and plate beside the computer, and has to straighten up the mess he's made, shaking the hot tea off his hand and grabbing for a towel while he tries to call frantically, "But we're buddies!" "No we're nooot," Ren calls back. Shinji goes loping after him up the stairs protesting, "Hey Ren!!"

And the computer sits, the Data he's made on himself there. He and six other riders, still seven to go.