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|Reliant|| The Special Cases Department (aka the DMV)...
"KAMEN RIDER! Come out here and bring your friends with you!" calls the voice of Kamen Rider Chiroptera, who marched up to the front of the DMV a few minutes ago and... just started turning people away. He hasn't hurt anybody (yet), but he has determinedly refused to allow entry. Like a one-man picket line, when somebody arrived at the conclusion that in fact there would be no consequences for just pushing on by, Chiroptera bodily lifted that person and carried them back out onto the street before putting them down.
Then he took their car, turned it on its side, and used it to block the doors.
"Ah! That'll make it difficult, though..." Chiroptera says to himself, rubbing a hand against his helmet as if scratching his head.
You're definitely not getting out of this situation without a fight... but it looks like it'll be a gentler one than most. What a strange way of demanding a conversation.
|Go Shijima|| "How are my friends supposed to come out when you've got the door blocked?!" Comes an angry response from a window upstairs. Go Shijima had indeed attempted to come out, only to find the car propped up against it. He assumed that Chiroptera had meant the rest of the SCD--people not (with one exception) as agile as he. Go himself has no issues circumventing the barricade, however.
He nimbly vaults over the windowsill, strapping on the Mach Driver. It's blue and silver, looks kind of like the muffler of a motorcycle. Making an agile flip in the air, he inserts the tiny Shift Bike into the belt, and presses down. It snaps neatly into place, with two bursts of flame from the 'exhaust,' followed by an announcement and a jaunty jingle seemingly made of bike horns:
Signal Bike! RIDER!!
His feet gracefully touch the ground a few feet from Chiroptera. "Let's..." His right arm is held up, bent upwards at the elbow, left hand resting beneath the elbow. There's a dramatic flourish to reverse their positions, and a self assured nod. "Henshin!"
A sleek bodysuit of lightweight white armor with two red vertical stripes down the left side appears, complete with a blue-visored full motorcycle helmet with V-shaped antennae, and a waist-length shoulder cape also at the left side. On the right side of the chest, at shoulder level, there's a wheel with the hubcap facing outwards.
"Track..." His left fist closes, sweeping up towards his right shoulder. Wait, he already transformed. "Eradicate..." Both hands crossed at the wrist. Yes, he's going to do the whole thing. "I'm always at..." Now thrown wide open, and the sound of a superbike's revving engine. "Mach Speed! Kamen Rideeeeer..." Why wouldn't he? The whole DMV is literally a captive audience. Two windmills of his right arm, accompanied by revving sounds, then briefly lifting his knee to his elbow, bending low, before stancing wide and low with both arms wide open, palms out. "Ma-ach!" Finger-guns.
After his drawn out introduction, there's no attempt to find out why Chiroptera is here--if he hesitates, after all, thoughts about some difficult conversations from the past few days might gain a foothold. Mashing the button on the Driver four times, the Zenrin Shooter, an energy pistol with a large wheel at the front, appears in his hand. Chargin towards Chiroptera, he opens up with several blasts of blue energy, attempting to close the gap into melee range.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| TODAY: Tachibana Hibiki is here at the right time again. She wasn't really expecting anything to happen this time around, she's just using the chance to do some minor research into robot law-related things for clarity and using the chance to get some socialization - that thing she's learning how to do better - time in with her consistent co-workers. The question of 'does getting a license from here count in other worlds' comes up. "I mean, if the Tokyos are close enough..."
That train of thought comes to an end at the sound of Kamen Rider Chiroptera's familiar voice. Assuming the worst the right away, she wasted no time storming through the building back towards the entrance to get outside--only to find that a /car/ is in the way. Much like the Next Generation Kamen Rider, she relocates to the nearest window.
Instead of bursting out of it dramatically, Hibiki stops and stares for a long moment - at Chiroptera just blocking out the entrance. Not hurting anyone, just kind of there. Confusion settles in, along with a squint.
"Balwisyall nescell Gungnir tron..."
Golden light explodes out from the glass, but there's no Hibiki behind it. Not immediately anyway; she just kind of opens it up and throws herself out with a jump and a small grunt now that this isn't exactly what she was thinking it was. Instead of launching an offensive herself, she just kind of semi-awkwardly adjusts her Symphogear's scarf before taking up position nearby while Mach engages.
Not with a lowered guard, necessarily, but this situation is weird enough that she doesn't need (or want) to throw hands immediately. "Chiroptera...you're keeping other people out of it this time." She looks to the toppled vehicle. "...More or less." And back to the dark bugman. "What's going on? Are you here to pick a fight with the Kamen Riders again?"
|X||With the commotion at the DMV being markedly less violent than usual, when X arrives on the scene, it's with a troubled face. He'd only just recovered from his injuries recently, and accordingly, he'd had plenty of time to digest his loss to a certain maverick. He hadn't been able to gain much in the way of information from him, but it did set a dangerous implication that the organized mavericks of his world were starting to branch out and accrue interests.
"X, there's trouble at the Special Cases Unit .. but -- "
Alia had given him the lowdown, as much as they knew, anyway. Which was that the Dark Rider was once again stiring up trouble, only this time, he had decided to challenge the Kamen Riders directly and seemingly, with as little human casualty as possible.
When X had arrived on scene via teleportation, the falling beam of light solidifying into the familiar form of the blue bomber, he'd first attempted to talk the other down. " ... if you're dead set on fighting Kamen Rider ... then let's fight somewhere that it won't bother others. Just what is it you're wanting to do? Does it really extend as far as defeating your 'enemy'?"
What was the world that Kamen Rider Chiroptera wanted to create?
But that was as far as that conversation went, before Go Shijima .. no, before Kamen Rider Mach dives in to meet the challenge. He goes on the attack immediately, and X with his buster drawn, hesitates.
He had no regrets or second thoughts about fighting Rack Reindeer, or the out-of-control Humagear .. but shooting that Roidmude in this instance, it felt wrong.
He felt that if he did that, he'd be doing something unforgiveable. "Go...wait -- !!"
|Reliant||"I don't know! Come out a window! Use a side door!" Chiroptera calls back to Go, completely seriously. True to his form last time however, he at least broadly respects the Conventions and doesn't do anything at all to interrupt Go's transformation or force him to speed it up. He just sort of loiters, waiting with relative patience.
The blasts from the Zenrin Shooter encounter the same humming surface-field that everything seemed to last time, its force considerably dispersed on contact. It elicits a few sparks with each shot, but it's not hard to tell the difference between the effect on contact with any other roidmude and THIS guy.
Kamen Rider Chiroptera steps into melee range willingly, swinging in with a fairly practiced punch towards the middle of Mach's mass. His tone becomes more serious when he speaks, "One month ago...! You spared a humagear. You saved it from a zetsumeriser. Why?"
He pushes back, just a little, to gain a modicum of space. Not trying to leave swinging range, just trying to control positioning reasonably. Chiroptera's wings quiver lightly.
Chiroptera tilts his head slightly towards Hibiki. "It's natural for Kamen Riders to talk in this way, is it not? Coming here completely peacefully leaves a bad taste in my mouth. There are roidmude who wield bystanders viciously as a matter of course; if not doing so is adequate for Lord Heart, it is also adequate for Chiroptera."
X's question causes a broad relaxation of Chiroptera's stance, but it doesn't "rev him down". He paces in place, shaking his head, "This is where Drive and Mach make their headquarters. If I'm not so much as obstructing daily operations in this government building, I'm not much of a dissident, am I? You'll have to settle for uninvolved parties not getting hurt bodily."
Halting and completely dropping his combat stance, Chiroptera gestures sweepingly and grandly between the three of them.
"What made you go to such lengths to spare an enemy machine? Explain yourselves."
|X||"Doesn't it go without saying?" X says, in response to the inquiry.
He would have liked it if they could move the battle away from the DMV, but it just meant he'd have to carefully be on his toes to make sure no one got hurt. X pulls his buster back, his hand sliding along the underside of his forearm to keep it hoisted in an upright position, but ready to take aim at a moment's notice.
"I don't want to hurt others if I don't have to. Fighting ... I'll fight to protect others, and do my best to create a world where machines and humans can live peacefully."
X frowns, "If I can save someone instead of killing them, I'd rather save them. That Humagear never wanted to hurt anybody, that choice was taken away. The power to feel, and love, and decide is important."
"I don't need a reason to help someone. It's that simple."
|Go Shijima|| Go? Wait? "Hell no," comes his indignant response to X. Well, that's probably expected.
Chiroptera's punch is sidestepped, Mach's hand swatting it aside forcefully. Roidmudes are strong enough without belts... this Chiroptera... I can't hold back! "Humagears don't choose to hurt people like Roidmudes do!" That this Roidmude has chosen not to hurt uninvolved parties, and that another, the Grim Reaper, has made the same decision numerous times, he must be willfully ignoring, to make such a claim after having seen such things himself.
The counterattack comes shortly after his reply. A series of three side kicks, delivered one after the other, left-right-left, aimed at the side of Chiroptera's head. As his leg comes down from the third, he spins the wheel on the Zenrin Shooter--
And attempts to deliver a swipe, hip-to-shoulder, with the weapon as its wheel rapidly spins to add centrifugal force to the blow.
X... what is he doing?! Why spare a damn Roidmude? Everyone always has to make this so hard...
|Hibiki Tachibana|| 'If not doing so is adequate for Lord Heart, it is also adequate for Chiroptera.'
That seems to give Hibiki pause for a second, until she gives a blink and a tilt of her head. "I--guess you're not wrong?" Combat Speechifying is no stranger to her, and after everything she's experienced here, Kamen Riders definitely follow the same virtue. Whatever the case, she thinks she understands - and if he really isn't dragging civilians into this..
She just can't bring herself to throw herself at him the same way Mach is. Her somewhat-guarded stance falls to a neutral one, much in the same way Chiroptera dropped his own, and she off towards the side with a furrowed brow. "...It wasn't an 'enemy machine'. It was a Humagear taken control of, and made to..." She seems like she's going to say one then, and then, "...made to do MetsubouJinrai's work for them."
She looks back over towards the Roidmude. The very last thing X says strikes a chord with with her, and she clenches her hands into fists at her side. It's more out of resolution than any intention to fight, which she seems to have none of right now. But--should she try to stop Go? Should she--? Hibiki shakes her head, letting out a small grunt of frustration. "I don't know why they're doing what they do, but getting /anyone/ innocent involved isn't right. It doesn't matter that they have backups!"
A fist comes up to her chest to rest against it briefly. "If someone needs it, if they're in pain, I want to help them! I don't need any other reason!" She echoes the Reploid. "And we'll do it again if we have to!"
|Reliant||"No. It does not go without saying. If it did, I would not have asked," Kamen Rider Chiroptera replies, simply. He regards X with some interest now, and from the way he holds one hand it's not hard to imagine that he might wish to rub at his chin were he not transformed. "Are you familiar with the process of roidmude evolution?"
"We were nearly all designed to emphasize negativity. Like a haze on the brain."
Each of Mach's blows lands, snapping Chiroptera's head back and forth with a shower of sparks that grows painfully luminous when the Zenrin Shooter's wheel is used as a combo finisher. Chiroptera staggers backwards, catches himself, and sags in place for a moment.
It's an uncharacteristic gesture, not of deep wounding -- though that blow was fiercer than most have landed on him for a certainty -- but of weariness uncharacteristic of a roidmude. Kamen Rider Chiroptera straightens up. The lenses of his helmet flare brilliantly.
"But that is not an affliction which I bear. The individual that I copied... has no negativity whatsoever. But because of that, I am unable to evolve as a roidmude." There's a strange sort of feeling in that statement. Pride, yes-- but something else, too. Something not so nice.
He raises a hand palm-outwards, a powerful burst of sound waves shrieking through the air towards Kamen Rider Mach.
"You're right. Humagears ARE innocent," Chiroptera agrees with Hibiki. "But so were roidmude, once. I don't have all the answers. But can you try that hard for those who have been taught cruelly, also?"
|X|| Roidmude grew by mimicking others.
He knew this much, they learned from those they scanned .. but, that they could only evolve from the negativity of others? Was the man who made them truly so cruel, and so shortsighted?
Chiroptera was different, though. He did not bear that negativity, so he could not 'evolve' ... no, X didn't believe that. That he was talking like this, right now, showed it. "You're wrong."
Dashing forward, Force Metal energy blasts out of his shoulders and legs as he seems to disappear, zipping behind Kamen Rider Mach in order to attempt to yank him back by the ascot and placing himself firmly between the two Riders.
"You're wrong ... ! You're already changing! The Chiroptera we fought at first wouldn't have cared at all who he hurt!"
"But I can tell, you really didn't want to hurt anyone, even when it would have been the easiest way to make the SCU come after you."
X grips his buster tightly, "It's not as easy to defend the blameless. I know that. ... I will not allow Roidmudes to hurt others, just because they've been hurt. But."
The resolve solidifes in his chest, like cast iron, "I'm not giving up. I believe that all of you are capable of more than anyone could have ever imagined. That 'potential' isn't like tangible power. It doesn't make you faster, or stronger .. it doesn't give you new and fantastic abilities. It gives you something even more than that."
"It gives you the light that exists inside of a human heart!"
He didn't want to give up on Roidmudes anymore, either.
|Go Shijima|| The process of Roidmude evolution... why would my father design them that way? That... Mach hesitates. Looks over his shoulder, following that strike from the Zenrin Shooter. Neither X nor Hibiki are fighting.
"You're lying," he angrily cries, leaping into the air in an attempt to bring his heel down onto Chiroptera's shoulder. The sound wave instead catches him directly in the chest.
Mach is lifted into the air, limbs flailing for purchase as sparks and electricity crackle across the suit. He hits the ground, rolling towards X and Hibiki, skidding across the hard pavement of the parking lot before the suit disappears.
...announces the chipper AI, as Go ends up behind X, whose dash now places him between the Rider and the Roidmude. There's nothing but contempt on Go's face, as he wipes blood from a split lip. "My father wouldn't deliberately bring something so twisted into the world!" Even the Roidmude, to say nothing of X and Hibiki, can tell that his tone is more defensive than someone who truly believes what they're saying.
"If you don't have all the facts... then how can you make that claim?!" He pounds a fist against the pavement, forcing himself to his feet. Maybe it was a mistake... or something he couldn't have foreseen. But I can't believe...
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Negativity, like a haze on the brain. The mention of it gets Hibiki to purse her lips and tense up. A pause and silence lasting long enough that she doesn't reply immediately to Chiroptera's question settles in, looking down at the hand still resting on her chest.
"...I want to." But she eventually says that plainly, focusing a stare back up at Chiroptera. "I've seen you, and Chase. I know what he does. I don't know much at all about 'Heart', but the way you've spoken of him, and Xion too...I know it's not a lost cause."
She takes a moment to try and find a way to phrase what she wants to say, with some visible struggle. "Other Roidmudes living like that...hurting because you've been hurt...I know how awful that is. I was like that before, too. Even so...!"
Hibiki steps forward with her fists tight at her sides, though once again, it's more of a gesture to go along with her emotion than anything else. Though she doesn't want to get between the Kamen Riders, she does want to be able to look Chiroptera in the eye, or as close as one can get with the mask in the way. "Chase--he resets Roidmudes so they can do better next time, doesn't he? But if that's how you're designed, maybe it's no wonder why things never seem to get better..." She glances to Go, breaking his transformation and who's professed his thoughts plenty of times, and lingers on him with a mix of emotions for a moment before returning to Chiroptera. "But 'trying' is still worth it! If it can't be done alone, then we just need to work together--the same way we saved that Humagear! I'm not perfect, and I definitely can't do it by myself either...but as long as I try, and so do other people...! I'll stop them from hurting people, and try to save them too!"
|Reliant||"Was I really so terrible...?" Kamen Rider Chiroptera seems surprised by X's remarks.
// Chiroptera, if you keep fighting like that you're going to destroy our friends! //
Behind his mask, Chiroptera blinks.
"It is not that I do not 'want to hurt anyone', but that it is more important to 'destroy the weapon that allows my people to be killed'. But I don't think that Lord Heart... and a Kamen Rider..." He says, his voice trailing away a little uncertainly.
When he speaks next, though, Chiroptera's voice has regained its certainty and darkened by degrees, "Human hearts also contain great lightless chasms, X. But thank you."
It is to Hibiki he turns next. The subject of Heart elicits a noise that might be light laughter, but it's hard to nail down. It has an uncharacteristically bubbly quality. Everyone has a crush on Heart. He replies, "Lord Heart is Lord Heart. His name reflects his nature. Though he wishes to claim the throne over a species that hurt him dearly, I cannot even begin to describe his true nature, save that it is natural to be drawn in and comforted by him."
"So too is the Grim Reaper the Grim Reaper. Though... that one is scary! Scary! I was really relieved when he came to fight WITH me, not to reset me!" He exclaims.
Kamen Rider Chiroptera walks forward and steps around X, his left hand falling to his Forceriser. Rather than pull the lever that triggers one of his UTOPIA or DYSTOPIA attacks, he pulls his progrise key shut. There is a faint powering-down noise, the dark purple armor gleaming before it pulls back and seems to fade out of being.
It's not 012 that stands there, though. It's not even a human.
The humagear Yu is dressed in a cream-colored sweater, black slacks and shined black shoes, and wears a green apron. There is a nametag identifying him. His earcups are of a current-generation humagear, and give a small whirr-beep as some sort of connection occurs. He has long, blond hair bound into a (very) loose ponytail, and stands around Go's height. His features are conventionally feminine, and it's not hard to imagine that somebody customized a deliberately "pretty boy" model with an unusual hair color to attract attention.
"No. I'm not lying. This is me." Yu says, crouching down beside Go. It's possible that he misunderstood the 'lying' claim altogether. He stares into Go's face for several long moments, very intently. The circular light spins for several moments before completing with a series of tiny beeps. He says, "I do not think that it will do either of us any good... to talk about our father right now. But if you would like to, sometime, with plenty of advance warning..."
He leaves the thought there, and stands back up.
Turning back towards Hibiki and X, he says, "Not all members of MetsubouJinrai.net are coerced. If mercy is the path you wish to walk, then you have two species to save, not just the one. I..."
Yu's expression hardens visibly, "I won't cease to be Kamen Rider for the 'other side'. Our champions are few, and those that will speak for us are even fewer. Power is necessary for a people, and no matter what you say you still act as an arm of the status quo in this place."
"But, I would like you to find a way."
Heaving an exceedingly performative sigh, Yu says, "I need to get back to work."
He deposits his forceriser -- key and all -- in one of the pockets of his apron, and turns away.
X's face twists in a very human-like grimace. That Banno had been his father was something of an elephant in the room, any kind of talk about the man had been brief in both instances he'd been present for it. He'd never worked up the guts to talk to Go about it, either, and this was why. Because he understood.
It was the same reason he'd gotten so furious at Ivo Robotnik concerning his opinion on Dr. Cain, even if he didn't think those situations were quite comparable, he understood that before he was the scientist who created the Roidmude, Banno had been Go's dad. That is why he understood the true conceit of Go's anger against the Roidmude.
X, also, had felt that anger. He'd felt it seething through every circuit when he'd fought Sigma inside of his fortress, back then. He continued to feel it with every conflict that escalated until the Great Repliforce War.
But the fundamental difference, X believed, is that unlike Dr. Cain, Dr. Banno did not have anything near the realm of good intentions.
And that is what would make such a conversation so much more difficult. "Go," he reaffirms gently, his back to the downed Rider, "It's alright to be angry. There are some people that can't be reasoned with, yet .. "
He couldn't help but recall what Xion had mentioned to him, once, when she had been channeling Break Man. Back then, he chose to fight, because he believed it was the correct choice to make. "The choice to fight is still yours. A Kamen Rider is a hero who fights for justice .. but justice, it's just a word. What it means is different, for everyone. What's the 'justice' you're trying to grasp?"
X hesitates, his lips parted, before he purses them and continues, "It's hard for me to figure out what the right thing is, " he admits, "but .. is hating them the answer that you believe in?"
X understood, and that is why there is no accusation as he softly slides a knife of words into Go Shijima's justifications.
That Chiroptera, no, rather, that Yu's form was taken from a Humagear was a surprise, but it set certain things into place inside of X's head -- that is why he did not have 'negativity' to evolve from. Because the being that he had scanned did not possess it within himself.
"I understand. But, Yu .. what I said to Go, also applies to you. Your 'justice' .. his 'justice' ... "
X nods, sternly, "I don't like fighting, but I'll fight with all my might, if it means defending the peace .. for everyone."
|Hibiki Tachibana|| 'Stunned' is the fitting word for Hibiki's reaction when Chiroptera disengages his transformation, to reveal the plainly dressed form of...a Humagear. The mention of the person 012 copied being someone with absolutely no negativity was certainly a weird one that Hibiki didn't focus on at the moment, but now it really sinks into place what that meant.
Yu addressing her and X directly though, gets her to stare back and listen intently. There's some confliction on her face for a moment, before her expression lightens and she nods. "...I wouldn't expect you to. I understand." They'll definitely come into conflict with Roidmudes and MetsubouJinrai plenty more. She should've guessed that things wouldn't be so clear cut with the latter, either. It's anyone's guess what story the ones behind them have. Still...
"I want to find that way." It's said quietly, more to herself than Yu as he turns around, and her own transformation disengages in a simple burst of golden light returning her to normal. "With everyone..."
She won't try to stop him from leaving. Not this time.
|Go Shijima|| "That isn't--" His anger dies upon the reveal, replaced with something else. "You copied a Humagear?" Go's fist unclenches, confusion plain on his face.
Then... he's at least telling the truth about copying something without negativity. But I... have to know more.
Back on his feet, he adjusts his hoodie, looking down his nose at Yu. "Don't hold your breath," he says scornfully. "Maybe I believe you don't have that negativity in you. But we're a long way from that conversation--especially when there's someone more trustworthy I could talk to."
The Ride Macher, that white superbike with the red stripes which match his hoodie, can be heard approaching on autopilot. It pulls up beside Go, and he's astride it in one fluid motion. Helmet in hand, "I'm going to look for him now. But don't think you're off the hook just yet."
X is naive, but he's right about one thing... even if the Roidmude are victims, being hurt doesn't excuse you from hurting others.
"There are plenty of Roidmudes that hurt innocent people, and being their champion... you'll stop them, or I'll make you answer for what they do."
The helmet is put on, and Go peels out, the Ride Macher's engine revving with a high pitched whine as the bike tears out onto the main road. Krim knew his father, didn't he? He'd know if this Roidmude was telling the truth.
|Reliant||// Is hating them the answer that you believe in? //
The question is towards Go, but later echoed to Chiroptera.
"That is a complicated question. If you are asking if I hate all of humanity, no. This does not make humanity less than my enemy. That is what happens when two species who occupy approximately the same niche come into being. When it comes to Banno, though..." Yu turns around partway. It's a visible effort to keep his expression neutral. "It is not possible for that one to make amends."
"And I will only fight for 'everyone' when I am included in 'everyone'."
Yu smiles faintly at Hibiki. It has the quality of a customer-service-smile, sincere enough that you can't be quite certain that it's not real, but probably practiced. "Yes. I'm sure you do. There is some benefit to being removed from the situation, I think."
Yu considers Go a little more closely. He nods, "It was an accident. But I did not wish to undo my mistake once I had done it. I love humagears, Kamen Rider Mach. They aren't quite like roidmudes, and the way they approach existence is uncomplicated. That is why I am Kamen Rider Chiroptera."
He visibly ceases to breathe when Go tells him not to. It's not necessary; a largely cosmetic 'option'. Synthesized voices don't require the same mechanisms to produce sound, after all.
The wheel spins, completes.
"I will consult Mashin Chaser," Yu replies. This is definitely the answer that Anyone Ever Wanted To Hear when it comes to making Roidmude be halfway decent.
"Good afternoon," He says, waving to Go, X, and Hibiki. He strolls on down the sidewalk, towards a train station a few blocks away.
The wheel continues to spin as he goes.
I should get a motorcycle. Yu thinks, as the train doors shut in front of him.