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|Chase|| It's been a while, but there is yet another broadcast on both the radio and TV about a Bugster sighting. The typical warning to stay inside and to sanitize properly are made, as well as where the Bugster's current location is. Either to help one stay away, or find it.
The location this time is pipes. Not inside pipes, but just a construction area full of large, white pvc pipes. Why are there so many pipes? What are they building here? Who knows. But it makes a very nice set piece.
Amongst the sea of discarded pipes, stands the Bugster, a weird fusion of awful vibrant 90's clothes and a robot. There's a permanent creepy smile on its face, and it's surrounded by an army of equally dressed goons.
"SOON. SOON. SOON."
It's currently just chanting the same word over and over again as it haphazardly makes finger guns, occasionally firing off lasers from its digits that create large pyrotechnic explosions.
|Zephyrman|| It's pipes. It's a city. It's a construction area with no visible purpose. It's a vibrant 90s-clad robot villain surrounded by horrible clones chanting in perfect unison. It's shooting lasers out of its fingers.
OK, the turtle was cool. That was cool. That was a great debut. And the party was fun. It was a great cooldown. And then Saturday was...well, it was great. Could've gone even better, but it was great. This?
This is John's *element*.
He walks forward into the construction center. A vertical flute snaps up into his hand. It's black and gold, with a flare at the end that turns white. John snaps the flute sideways.
"The wind is calling me...that voice I heard once before..."
"It chants the name of my soul!"
The flute goes into his mouth. He plays. The music is airy, whistling, piercing through the turtle's cry. As it plays the wind whips up around him. A whirling cyclone spins into being. The music stops.
The wind disappears. What's left in its place is armor. Beautiful, knightly white armor, lined with glowing red that pulses like a heartbeat. A helmet like a Roman warrior, crowned in gold laurels, flared with feathers.
"The name of my soul..."
Zephyrman takes the flute in one hand and swings it downwards. In mid-swing, a beam of energy emerges from it. A beam saber.
He takes the lead immediately, because this is His Element. He is Here for this. The wind thrusters on his back flare up. The sound of jet engines roar through the construction site. Dirt and dust and PVC is shoved aside as he leans forward.
The white-clad henshin hero shoots forward into the mass of minions, his beam saber flashing as he goes. When he skids to a halt, he's in the thick of it. Behind his helmet is a huge grin.
This is awesome.
|Cantio||More Bugster. What are Bugsters, even? Cantio still doesn't have any real clues as to their reason for existence, but the news of another sighting has her enthused. If she can get a sample of the weird whatever-it-is, maybe she'll be able to figure it out and make some real headway towards combating the viruses showing up at home!
Or utilizing it for her own research. Either or. The important thing is that she arrives at the land of pipes, coming to a stop in sight of the 90s robot with a briefcase slung over her shoulder while donning her usual white and purple outfit.
"There you are... Now, let's see if I can't get something useful from this one." She hurries over behind a stack of pipes, peeking just enough out of it that it can probably still see her while she's opening the briefcase.
She's also assembling a large... Something? A something out of various parts from the briefcase that expand in size as she pulls them out. It looks like she's putting together some kind of giant gun. One of the pieces, though, gets tossed towards Zephyrman as he takes the initiative, expanding into a flying miniature robot that blasts at the Bugster with tiny lasers as if trying to draw its attention upwards!
|Featherman Neo||Featherman Neo already practiced social distancing yesterday, and got beaten up for it! (That is not why he got beaten up.)
So, when the virus warning goes out, the red birdman hero with the cape and white plumage armor leaps from off the pipes (which he climbed on when no one was looking), moving to dropkick straight into the army of goons. His knife is pulled out, the red blade moving to slice into Bugsters and disable them alongside Zephyrman. As he's doing this, he focuses on the leader...
And opens his mind, attuning it to the Bugster's. Is this a person, even if it's a virus? Why do they keep repeating the same thing? Are they more of a program?
"Halt, evildoer! I am Featherman Neo! Didn't you know you need a permit to let off fireworks in the city!?"
|Kaito Kumon||A rift opens up between dimensions, preceded by a zipper tearing the portal open and proceeded by a motorcycle emerging through it, skidding to a halt horizontally on the street in a maneuver that is simultaneously a Back to the Future and Akira reference.
"Another one of these," says the rider, after removing his motorcycle helmet - only to then put another one on, albeit by a less direct method. "Henshin."
COME ON! BANANA ARMS!
One transformation sequence later, he grabs onto the bike's handlebars with one hand to rev it, and grips his lance with the other - and charges forward, hitting a conveniently placed construction ramp on his bike to perform a dramatic charging jumping attack with the lance, as dramatic toku pyrotechnics go off!
|X||With the emergency services warning going out, the Maverick Hunters -- as collaborators with Rider Services -- also dispatch in the area to assist in securing the perimeter for the Elites to get in and do their business. In the meantime, with no interference in the area to stop him from going straight for the cut, a blue light shoots down from the sky to land in the Bugster's vicinity.
X, can you hear me?
Our analysis is inconclusive - so be careful!
With that warning in mind, the blue bomber allows his hand to be sucked up into his wrist as it transmogrifies into his trusty X-Buster, lifting it with his free hand to steady the weapon under-lug, What? Are those guys new Rider Services personnel? I don't recognize them ...
But, he did recognize some of the others, here. However, as long as they were all here to stop the Bugster, he wouldn't take pot shots, even if it didn't feel quite right to look the other way. "Hold it!"
A volley of bright yellow orbs exit his weapon of choice in rapid succession, assailing the Bugster's group of backup dancers from above and behind, where he was perched. "Stand down now, and come quietly!"
|Hamada Haru||This is not the first time that Hamada Haru has been in this place. That's just how it goes, isn't it? Sometimes you get into a fight next to a PVC pipe factory. Today, though, his mood is sour. It's been sour for a while. He's had questions about himself to answer and it's been exceedingly difficult. It's also bound up in the fact that the Tetra belt is simply not working correctly.
So when he surveys the Imminent Problem from the back of his motorcycle, it's as he snaps open a case and dons an entirely different belt.
A fliphone comes to hand, several buttons are pressed in sequence, a simplified red-plated suit coming into existence around him to the announcement of COMPLETE.
Drawing a tonfa-blaster from his side, Riotrooper Prima 01 raises it and fires three shots towards the side of the occasionally-firing-lasers bugster. All told, it's a rather lifeless exchange.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| Bugsters. Just like before. Hibiki remembers how they were described to her very well. It's still a little out there to believe they're an actual disease that also may or may not be related to video games, but that comes second to everything else.
'They're a disease, simply put. They infect their host, and take the shape of various video game mascots. MY mascots. Once they leave the victim's body, their life is on a timer so to speak. So time really is of the essence.'
She hits the scene on foot, lacking the ability to show up on motorbike like her fellow Symphogear user or via cool helicopter drop outside of her world--but she's not late. There's enough pipes here that she swears they're building something out of an old 70s video game where they'd be environmental hazards more than anything they'd actually build in a construction site.
Which probably makes sense, given what Bugsters are, but shut up.
Skidding to a stop at the edge of the soon-to-be-battlefield, Hibiki narrows her eyes at the Bugster already raising chaos. "...It doesn't look anything like the last one. Looks like they take a lot of forms. Even so...!" Whatever is coming 'soon', she won't let it happen either.
"Balwisyall nescell Gungnir tron..."
The pendant in her grasp explodes into a golden sphere of light encircled by musical glyphs, shattering outwards moments later after an internal and much longer transformation sequence to leave her clad in the mechanical armor of Gungnir.
And she immediately charges forward into the line of Bugsters, planning on bowling over all the small fry in the way with a flurry of blows to send them scattering to get to the one firing everything off haphazardly. "There's not even anybody here! What the heck are you shooting and shouting about!?"
Only a protagonist with questionable visual aesthetic and cartoonish charm could defeat them!
Or Ex-Aid, but he's not here right now.
Drawn into the PIPE DIMENSION with the viral warning, Xion lingers for just a moment, looking out at the area and trying her hardest to place the location the area had become.
"Is this that... bamboo forest? But with a pipe overlay?" It's not. It's just a factory.
Xion twangs her hand against the bundles of pipe held vertically and considers. A fingergun detonation causes her to duck while Kaito Kumon walks past her and immediately transforms with the power of BANANA.
"It's that serious? Bugster... Right to the fight?"
It's right to the fight.
Summoning the silver and blue length of her empty-star capped keyblade, Starlight, to hand with a metallic 'shwink!', Xion backsteps through a portal while Hibiki activates her armor, dropping into the crowd of bugsters with a twirling slash as Primatrooper 01 suppresses the lesser chickenhead bugsters with his Three Shots From Onscreen.
"I don't think they're with Rider Services, X! Do you think we can capture them?"
|Rita Ma|| Rita is back, still looking like a perfectly ordinary girl. It's hard to tell if she's overdressed or underdressed for roughing up toku baddies; she's got no greebles, no weapons, no transforming suit, just a nice skirt-blouse-jacket combo and hair tied back with a little ribbon.
'However you fight, that's how a hero fights!' That's what Hibiki said. And I know it must be true, but... it's so hard to believe. You can forgive me if I hide this a little longer, can't you? I'm not strong enough to stand people seeing me like that.
Her expression of grim resolve doesn't last long; the assorted transformation sequences and heroic declarations leave her sparkly-eyed and awestruck. "Hibiki! Zephyrman! You're so amazing; I know you can do it!"
It takes one of the lasers coming dangerously close to her head- and her swerving away with inhuman alacrity- to snap her out of it.
Right... but I do have to help somehow. I can't just sit back and let other people take care of everything! Let's find out how they defend themselves.
Rita picks up a rock off the ground, hefts it in her hand, shuts her right eye, and fastballs it right at the big Bugster's head with her superhuman strength. Somehow, her aim is uncannily laser-precise.
|Go Shijima|| The Ride Macher, the performance superbike serving as Go's primary means of transportaion, has a distinctive sound. Its engine makes the kind of whine which suggests the machine demands exacting care but provides truly impressive results--the kind that suggests this is someone's invention, not something that came from a showroom floor. Its rider is not concerned about Bugsters--he's on the road to clear his head, to push himself and test his limits. He's on the road because it allows him the quiet necessary to think. He's done things that he can't take back, because of hurt inside him...
<X-Paladins-Chatter>  Hellwarming Duo | Utsuho says, "And if you can't take it back, then... Uh. What's anyone gonna expect you to do?"
<X-Paladins-Chatter>  Rhongomyniad says, "Atonement."
<X-Paladins-Chatter>  Go Shijima says, "That's what it has to be."
The past few days have been extremely difficult for Go Shijima--but eye opening, too. He pulls up to the scene and coaxes the bike into a lateral drift, tires squealing as he shifts low to slide beneath one of those lasers. A shift of his hips and a little guidance from his foot has it back upright with the last of its momentum, and he leaps at the apex of its rise to propel himself up and over the next finger-laser.
This thing isn't being careful... maybe it's not even aware of what it's doing. I don't know if I'm ready, but...
Signal Bike! RIDER!!
The Mach shift bike is slotted into his belt. "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 his brow furrows with determination. "Henshin!"
Hard-light constructs surround him in mere moments as the Mach Driver--that belt looking like a motorcycle's exhaust--belches flame. The constructs rapidly collide with him, becoming that very instant more solid. It forms 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.
Go's fist unclenches.
That doesn't feel right, does it... not anymore. Even if it isn't a 'person,' I can't fight that way anymore.
"...Overtake!" Mach races forward, a front-wheeled energy pistol spinning deftly in one hand. The prestidigitation stops as abruptly as he does, wherein he uses the Zenrin Shooter's rapidly spinning wheel to knock aside the Bugster's hands when it attempts to shoot. "I'm always at..." No doubt, it'll try to attack him up close--him, and everyone else that fights that way. But instead of eradicating... "Mach Speed!" Go attempts to catch the bugster's next strike, and redirect its force into a hip toss. "Kamen Rider..." Go twirls the Zenrin Shooter again, and blasts at the Bugster's goon squad, attempting to keep them from intervening with suppressing fire! "Mach!" He makes time for the jazz hands.
|Chase|| Zephyrman is the first to jump into the fray. He cuts through the weird, extremely cheap looking minions with the ease he might expect, his beam saber cutting them in half in an extremely PG way as they let out a death gurgle and explode in the way all proper putties do. He even gets Cantio's little robot buddy to help clean up the ones he missed. Isn't that lovely?
Xion's slashes find similar purchases, cleaving virus monster scum in twain with cutting light. How a blunt key cuts things in half is a mystery, but video game logic against video game monsters is probably a good guess.
Kamen Rider Baron, takes a similar brute force approach to dealing with the swarm of themed goons by barreling through them with brute force. There's a comical amount of token resistance as the lesser bugsters try to form a wall to stop him, but a motorcycle and banana lance proves to be way stronger than anything they can muster, and so they fall and perish.
X, Go's and Hamada fire shots into the group of Bugsters. One being more of a warning shot, the others not so much. A few of them jump in front of Hamada's shots, taking the blast and dying 'valiantly', while the others die from simple warning shots and basic laser gun shots... They're really pathetic, but at the very least, nobody will probably won't mourn them. Not even their own kind.
Hibiki barrels through a bunch of goons. This is expected, as they never posed a real threat, and so does Featherman. While Featherman pauses to ascertain the creature's motives however, Hibiki's fists just barrel into its gut. There's a garbled electronic noise, followed by a rock thrown by Rita suddenly slamming into its head.
It stumbles back, clearly tougher than it looks as it begins to recollect itself.
"RIDER BEFORE TRIED. THEY LEFT. WILL LIVE. WILL LIVE SOON."
It points a single finger at the group, before rapid firing, fanning the shooting hand like a revolver as it begins sweeping around the area, causing a series of large, lingering explosions.
|X||X tilts his head at Xion and considers his answer earnestly. He'd like it if that were the case, and Lifesaver had even said as much himself for medical purposes. But the odds of that happening were really slim. "I don't know. But, I'd like to try." he answers, honestly.
Mach's appearance emboldens him as X jumps from the pipes he had balanced himself squarely on, another volley of buster shots hurling from his X-Buster as he uses the thrusters on the backs of his legs to maneuver in the air, flipping perpendicular to the ground and twisting, digging his free hand and booted feet to kill his momentum. "Toh!"
Between himself, Xion and Hibiki, there were a solid number of people here he could trust to both fight with the appropriate levels of force. And while he ordinarily wouldn't, he got the feeling that this time, Mach could be counted among that number too.
It was just the kind of air the Rider had.
<J-IC-Scene> Go Shijima says, "Then that's what I'll shoot for, Lifesaver!"
A barrage of finger-blasts rain down upon X as well as the other Elites, leading him to cross his arms over his chest and face to protect himself, sparks exploding off of him as they continually impacted his body, his dash boots accelerating him forward as the bombardment fails to make a mark. "Huoh!"
Lifting off the ground, X twirls and slams his knee into the Bugster's sneering face, hanging in the air for a brief second before his dash system drives him forward again for a second knee strike, the whir of his charging X-Buster humming until he's ready to release a bright green bolt of a half-charged shot into the Bugster's chest as he hits the ground.
"Xion, Go, do you have any abilities to restrain it with?!"
|Zephyrman|| Hibiki has a choice to make. And it's her choice, and no one else's. In this moment, the Watch is waiting for her call. A human life hangs in the balance - and so does a potential cure. They're gambling with a human life, and Hibiki is the one who has to make the choice.
Zephyrman is behind her one hundred percent. *John* is behind her one hundred percent.
Rita calls out that they're cool. Zephyrman gives her a thumbs-up from his place amidst the exploding goons. He's grinning behind the helmet, because he's John and of course he is, but he doesn't feel the grin. This is a tremendous choice, and asking her to make it alone...to know that the full weight of this decision comes down on Hibiki Tachibana...
...and she makes it.
And the grin evaporates behind his helmet. Now is time for determination. Now is time to hold her up and tell her that she's strong, so that she can believe it.
Zephyrman whirls amidst the goons. "Let's clear her way!"
Zephyrman's foot slides backwards. He grips the blade in both hands. The Gale Whistler starts to sing. He brings the blade down, then swinging upwards, a gust of wind sending the goons up into the air - to set up for Rita, to clear the way for Hibiki.
She's made her choice.
John's made his.
|Featherman Neo||This isn't a person, Featherman Neo discovers. It could be. But it isn't, and to become one would hurt someone else. It's a complicated situation, one he isn't attuned to after yesterday's doubts.
But he never said he was going to make sure monsters could become people. He had promised the world, but never that. So when Hibiki says they're going to destroy it, he draws his Beak Blaster, and charges forward on the Bugster, even as the explosive shots blow up on him, sparking his armor as he runs through them, focusing his aim.
Blasts of energy echo out, moving to impact the Bugster chest-on. He's not trying to capture it. He's trying to start executing it, quickly, cleanly, and as painlessly as possible.
|Cantio||The Bugster's minions are easy enough to deal with, but what about the big boss itself? It's more dangerous than Cantio had expected, as its finger guns take out both her drone and her cover in one fell swoop. The pipes around her explode with all manner of painful-looking sparks and explosions that launch all sorts of debris right into her and leave her flat on her back for a few moments.
"... Okay. If this one's a long-ranged fighter, then it's time for plan A!" Planting her hands on the ground beside her head, Cantio springs onto her feet, then grabs her mostly-completed gun and flings it right at the Bugster with all her might while running straight at it.
As she runs ahead, however, she spots several familiar faces! Some friendly, some neutral, and everything in between. "The plan to capture it... If it didn't risk someone's life, I'd trust in it myself. But as it stands...!"
The rifle starts transforming after impact, turning into a sword with several floating shields surrounding it. Cantio grasps the sword in mid-bounce, whirling it over and around herself in a powerful upwards golf swing at the Bugster with that extra momentum.
"I'll be taking a sample, but the rest will need to go. Take it down!" Several of the floating shields latch onto the sword to give it some extra girth in mid-swing, but the rest actually fly off in another direction. They start circling around Hibiki, granting her an extra layer of defense!
|Xion||Something inspiring catches Xion's eye, though there's more than one single eye full of catchingly fancy things fountaining from the
that it's positively effortless to stop and stare. So Xion does so, her hand batting away a Bugster's swing.
X calls out a need for aid, and thanks to Kamen Rider Baron, she's full of energy to burn! Driven away from the crowd of enemies by their concentrated efforts, she makes a trio of quick backsteps, the last getting her airtime as she floats and aims with the tip of Starlight. "A way to hold them down... I've got a few!"
Xion releases Starlight to spin around her like the hour hand on a clock, firmly 'ker-clack'-ing through the twelve hand positions around her as numerals appeared around her: the charging of a time spell of some sort.
Clapping her gloved hands together, she pulls apart purple lightning and a swelling spilling singularity that roils and implodes continuously in her hands. With force, she shoves it forward where it bombards the ground *beneath* the bugsters with large purple inkdrops of thick gravity magic that quagmire and drag down.
The clock's hand strikes twelve, and Xion finishes her gravitic barrage while taking up her keyblade and chopping.
"Be lost in the moment at the event horizon! Graviga! One moment, frozen! Stop!"
The two spells mingle and halt, a crystal molasses moment of debilitating darkness.
|Kaito Kumon||"The rider before tried - what rider?" says Baron as he turns the motorcycle around. "Am I going to be cleaning up where they failed?"
Laser shots ring out. Baron brings up his lance to block - it only does so much, though, with the majority of the hits landing solidly. In typical toku fashion, he ends up getting knocked off his bike in slow motion, landing roughly and then rolling to his feet.
"Then I'll show you all how a truly strong Rider takes care of a menace like this," Baron says, reaching down and slamming a fist on the handle of the knife on his belt.
COME ON! BANANA AU LAIT!
And he charges forward and leaps, bringing down his lance towards the bugster - and along with the lance, a gigantic crushing ENERGY BANANA with it!
|Hamada Haru||Riotrooper Prima 01 is nailed with some of the barrage of finger-blasts. It deters him from an immediate follow-up of blaster fire, but not all that unlike Kamen Rider Tetra, this suit seems to be fairly hardy. He flips the tonfa-blaster in hand, returning it to its position at his side, and draws out the flip phone that serves as a transformation device. It bends at an awkward angle, becoming a... another gun.
Yes, really. He just swapped a dual-type weapon for a single type weapon.
//Xion, Go, do you have any abilities to restrain it with?!//
The question isn't for him, but even as he lines up an attempt at another series of shots -- this time not focused on a particular target, but intended to be spread out and saturate damage among any possible damage sponges, as is necessary -- it strikes him that, yes, he's perfectly suited for that if it comes down to it.
If he uses his tonfa. If he gets in close. That's exactly the sort of thing he's good at.
And he just isn't feeling it, for some reason.
//If it's a monster that's hurting people... then it needs to die.//
//Let's give her a path.//
Disgust. Disgust, disgust, disgust, disgust.
It's vile. It's revolting.
The things that they're saying, and what the Tetra belt does. And so...
Riotrooper Prima 01 eases back from his well-considered spread and fires haphazardly and dispiritedly from the hip.
|Rita Ma|| Rita once again moves with alarming alacrity when she's fired at, ducking hard so the Bugster's shot whiffs through her trailing hair and hits the wall behind her. When it explodes on impact, catching her at the edge of its blast radius, she proves alarmingly durable too: she rolls forward, catching herself in a low and vaguely feral three-point stance, looking little worse for wear.
But it still stings, even if only her disguise's "clothes" and "hair" are singed. Those are my tentacles, after all! As much as I wish I could get rid of them, they're part of me...
"John! I've got it!"
For a brief moment, Zephyrman is depending on her. Hibiki is depending on her. Being relied upon is a strange and unfamiliar feeling for the once-coddled girl. Weighty, but... good?
My body knows exactly what to do. And for once, I can let it. That person's life... Hibiki and John's trust... those are more important than keeping this illusion airtight.
Rita grabs one of the huge PVC pipes, bigger than even a grown man ought to be able to lift. She squares up her stance like she's stepped up to the plate, closes one eye again, and then leaps up into the air to the exact level of the Bugster's minions.
It feels... good, almost? To let myself do this. To give in to that.
Her whole body twists as she swings for the fences. Invisible tentacles embed into the floor and twine around solid objects to anchor her, adding further torque to the blow. If she's got it lined up correctly, she'll bash them all from left to right, sweeping them away from the fight if not incapacitating them outright.
And she does have it lined up correctly. She always does.
|Hibiki Tachibana|| There's a really all-star lineup coming out today. Featherman and Zephyrman, three different Kamen Riders, Cantio, X, Xion (the X is not prounounced X), Rita...who she doesn't hold anything against for not fighting like she did yesterday. She gets it. Between all of them, there's no way this thing will stand a chance. However...it's not as simple as everyone coming together to fight the monster and go home.
<J-IC-Scene> Hibiki Tachibana says, "I get that! But I need more than 'everything you can', I need to know you're a hundred percent sure!"
<J-IC-Scene> X | Lifesaver rumbles, "This comes down to the simple matter of whether or not you trust us to save lives."
<J-IC-Scene> X says, ".. what Lifesaver's trying to say is -- please believe in us, and help us, Hibiki."
<J-IC-Scene> Featherman Neo almost uncharacteristically, "Hibiki. This is a sticky situation. I trust your judgment... What do you want me to do?"
...I do trust you. But if someone dies because I made the wrong decision--
Hibiki is blown backwards by a mass of stock generated explosions, flying and flipping back through the air as her moment of frustration and thought leaves her wide open. But before she hits the ground, she's made her decision. The only thing she can do is follow her heart, and that little bit of selfishness still inside of it.
"That Bugster has to be beaten...!"
She flips, lands on her feet, and reaches behind herself. She has Zephyrman, Featherman, Rita, Cantio supporting her--there's no time to second guess herself. "Kuroto-san, I'm using it!" Hibiki pulls out a red-and-blue device, of the same brand that Kamen Rider Brave had used before, and clicks it.
A hiphop beat on repeat sounds out before two dragons explode out from it, with the scent of burninn plastic not only fizzling out from the device but also following them. One red, and one blue, the deformed creatures' heads are considerably larger than their bodies, and they dart around briefly before coming back around towards Hibiki.
Where they morph around into equally contrasting gauntlets, slotting around her existing ones almost too perfectly before they begin giving off auras of flame and ice. Tucking her arms in and gritting her teeth, Hibiki braces against the ground.
And kicks off at full speed, charging down the Bugster at speeds that leave a rippling shockwave behind her. Zephyrman and Rita are going to clear the way. She knows they will.
So she'll be the one to beat it down into another Game Clear, with a blinding barrage of dual-element punches to ice it over before heating it back up to back up the force behind every blow. "Hraaaaaahhhh--!"
|Go Shijima||"You will--at the cost of someone else's life!" The finger-laster strikes him dead on, lifting him into the air with its force and resulting in a dramatic shower of sparks flying from the armor's chestpiece. Mach hits the ground and writhes, but forces himself into a kip-up.
It's all I can do just to keep it off-balance. I need something with some more force behind it--but Dead Heat... I can't contain Heart's feelings.
Mach flips open the chamber. "Whether Lifesaver gets his sample here or not... I'm not letting that happen!" A little supercar flips open and becomes a bike with a sidecar. The sidecar's underside has buttons like the keypad of a phone.
SHIFT BIKE//RIDER - Mach 555!
There's a sound that hammers at the chest and rattles the ground--like a pack of performance bikes racing past the bleachers. Hard-light constructs crash into his body, changing the appearance and functions of the armor. A second shoulder cape appears, the armor's edges finned to be more aerodynamic. The hubcap of that tire on his shoulders displays an iconic yellow 5 in a field of red, and the sleek left shoulderplate bears an M insignia. The wheels at his ankles rev up, and with the high-pitched, aggressive snarl of a bike engine, he rockets forward. An array of differently angled microthrusters works in tandem to add forward momentum, blurring his form to near-indistinguishable shapes of red and white.
Mach mashes the Driver four times, a belch of blue flame lancing from the exhaust as he leaps into the air to bring his elbow across him in a hammering strike aimed right at the bugster's temple. The back of his fist rockets upwards to deliver a follow-up, and just as his feet hit the ground there's an agile back kick delivered at the Bugster's chest. Those lasers hurt. So he can't spend the whole fight wailing--quickly retreats, zipping around the factory, weaving in and out of machinery, building supplies, and downed putties to cloud up its firing angles.
If time is so important, then there's no sense trying to argue. I'll get Lifesaver that sample some other way--but I need to deal with this guy first!
When Rita's swing for the fences strikes, Mach's thrusters carry him upwards, fins on his armor moving to guide him to those flung particularly high. Vroom! Vroom! Vroom! The tires at Mach's feet spin up, ramping him off of them in midair, until he finds one.
ALWAYS MACH 555
A midair belt-boosted roundhouse sends the putty flying backwards, aimed towards the Bugster--and Mach returns fire with a few lasers of his own, attempting to corral it into the path of its own flung henchcreature!
|Chase|| Xion casts the spell that a certain Mouse That Will Not Be Named knows on top of a heaping helping of bone crushing gravity, completely stopping the horde in place. Zephyrman, Go and Rita then, with the power of totally intentional teamwork, clears the way with his massive gust of wind and the power of a comically large PVC pipe, sending the rest of the putty squad blasting off again, never to be seen. They will be remembered. Especially the one that got missed and is just kind of having a miserable time right now being stuck.
Meanwhile, a beam from Featherman's gun slams into Robbie's (The Bugster's) chest, creating sparks and leaving a smoldering ring on its chest that does way more damage than what it appears to do, causing them to stagger back as Cantio follows up with a shield-empowered laser sword, which also digs into the horrible 90's bot chest. It reels even further back in response, apparently not blessed with the power of chonk despite their robot status.
Falling back doesn't work when there's a giant banana that has insane reach however. Baron brings their spear down, the Bugster raising its hand to defend and failing to meaningfully stop the strength and girth of his ripened fruit as they're sent flying back, tumbling around on the ground like a ragdoll before coming to a stop.
As it picks itself back up, only to be met with X's knee and a spray of Prima's laser bullets. The 'Reploid' is pretty positive they can feel Robbie's face give in from the attack a bit, before they fly back even farther, somersaulting and rolling across the ground even further until they slam against one of many PVC pipes.
"BLACK RIDER LEFT. TOOK SOMETHING-"
They don't get to talk anymore as Hibiki and Mach 555 slam into the robot Bugster at full force. Each punch Hibiki lands creates a large HIT! SFX as pixelated trails of fire and ice erupt from the impacts. Each hit punch that Hibiki delivers is followed by a blow by from Mach's new form, each taking turns pounding into the poor kaijin's chest until they eventually break through the PVC pipe.
There's a long, awkward silence, followed by an audible ticking noise.
"SELF DESTRUCT SEQUENCE IN 3. 2. 1. GOODBYE, KAMEN RIDERS."
With little more warning than that, Robbie self destructs himself in a last ditch effort to take out the masked bug menace, a giant, fiery ball engulfing the construction site.
|Cantio||"So that's the power of a Gashat...!" Cantio murmurs to herself in awe as Kasai Breathers is utilized, recognizing the strange little device from the last time she was in this region of Japan. After finishing with the follow through on her swing, Cantio backs up rapidly to give Hibiki some room to punch the everloving shit out of the Bugster. Her eyes light up even more (literally, even) when Mach becomes Mach 555, mouth agape as Go executes that flashy kicking and laser maneuver to add to the massive explosion that's sure to come shortly!
What she's not expecting is for the the Bugster to trigger its own explosion. "Self-des..? Oh no. H-heads down!" Reacting almost purely on instinct, Cantio slams her sword into the ground and takes cover behind it for lack of anything else to use as cover. The explosion knocks her and the weapon back several feet, only barely managing to keep herself upright from the giant fireball.
"Crap... I-is it over, then?" Taking a moment to catch her breath, Cantio stands back up as she looks around at all the fire created by that final attack. "Well.. I guess the important thing is that we stopped it. Is everyone alright? I.. Ah. I can patch you up if you took any rough hits!"
Before she gets the healing magic ready to go, however, Cantio takes a moment to release a couple of drones. They actually stay on the ground for the most part, almost looking like they're crawling around while keeping their 'faces' close to the ground. They move out in random directions, combing the area for any remains of the Bugster that they might be able to preserve.
|Zephyrman|| Xion holds it down. Featherman fires. Kaito summons a banana (cooool). Haru fires from the hip, plowing the way in. The gashat goes off. Mache 555 goes off. Rita does exactly what he was hoping she'd do - well, not *exactly*, but she did what was necessary for Hibiki.
Cantio calls out the self-destruct.
The explosion sends Zephyrman flying. Sparks fly from his suit as he skids to a halt on the ground. He sits up, his hand against the ground, a long skidmark between where he'd been standing and where he's found himself.
He stands. The beam saber disappears. He plays a brief tune on his flute; the wind whirls around him, and the suit disappears, replaced with John.
John walks over and puts his hand on Hibiki's shoulder. He's got a big smile on his face.
He gives her a thumbs-up.
|Rita Ma|| Rita allows the PVC pipe to fly from her hands on the titanic backswing, sending it flying away. There's a brief flicker of cerulean across her body as her invisible anchoring-tendrils retract; little fraction-of-a-second glimpses of the true form beneath until her chameleonic disguise can be reconstituted.
John... I did okay, didn't I? It feels so strange, fighting alongside heroes like this. I still feel like I don't belong. And it's always a surprise when I manage to keep up.
She lands in a deep crouch, one hand positioned to dig into the floor to propel her forwards into an explosive pounce- but that opportunity never comes. Go and Hibiki have already completely destroyed the main Bugster. Instead, she meets with a distinctly different kind of 'explosiveness'. Her body is already coiled like a spring, so she leaps backwards hard enough to kick up a plume of dust, getting enough distance to blunt the shockwave before it washes over her.
She lands on the ground in the standard Fallen Imouto Pose, but picks herself up after a moment- sore all over, but little worse for wear. Her face is a brave, grimacing smile. "Hibiki... you really did it. I knew you could!" Can the magical girl actually hear her from here? It doesn't matter.
Those things... they were sort of machines, weren't they? Like the robot John had in his front yard. But they were also sort of monsters. There's that feeling again, like everything between my ribcage and my waist is a churning knot. What does my body want me to do? Can something like this really satisfy me?
She walks towards the site where the Bugster self-destructed as if in a trance, and- with a quick glance around to make sure nobody's staring- draws that weird purple smoke into her mouth. But instead of inhaling it, it's- glk- dry-swallowed down, as best she can manage.
|Featherman Neo||Featherman Neo's shot rings true. But the explosion rings out, skidding Featherman backwards hard into a pipe as his suit sparks. He holds onto his weapons, as the Bugster self-destructs...
And places them both in holsters, heading over to Hibiki with a wobbly step. "Good work! Thank you for...giving me the guidance. I believe in your decision as the right one."
THE CHARIOT - RANK UP
Featherman Neo will probably not die for you, but their bond has increased, as he also gives her a thumbs up.
|Go Shijima|| Self destruct... not on my watch!!
As Robbie begins counting down, Mach mashes three numbers on the dialpad in the Mach Driver.
GEAR SHIFT/787 - STOP!
The hubcap on his armor changes to a STOP sign, and right when the fireball overtakes Robbie, Mach makes a quick-draw hip-fire with the Zenrin Shooter. As he speeds backwards, a giant hard-light STOP sign races towards the fireball, attempting to minimize the effect of fling shrapnel by making it too heavy for the explosion to throw. The intense gravity caused by the projectile sweeps over broken pipes and factory equipment too--although Mach is still lifted from -his- feet by the force of the blast. He nimbly turns in the air just in time to avoid slamming into a catwalk, and with the fire licking his back he manages to fly through a shattered window with seconds to spare.
As broken glass and frames rain down, he cuts the thrusters off. Mach's feet plant into the ground, the wheels at his ankles allowing him to 'drift' and reduce his momentum, kicking up a spray of gravel as the armor revs one final time. With one hand, a two-fingered salute aimed towards Rita, Hibiki, Zephyrman and Featherman; with the other, removing the Shift Bike. The onboard AI makes its cheery announcement--
And for the first time in a long time, Go looks like he believes that. He strides towards X, unhooking the belt. There -is- something different about him. For the first time in a long time, Go Shijima doesn't appear angry. He doesn't look like he's about to skulk off somewhere, or try to settle his anger with his fists. "X," he says. "I know Lifesaver is going to be disappointed. But I said we'd find a way for him to help, and I meant it. When Lifesaver's had a chance to look over what Cantio finds, tell him to meet me at the hospital. I'm going there now."
|Hibiki Tachibana|| HIT! HIT! HIT! Hibiki lays into the metallic Bugster over and over once the way is clear, only thanks to everyone else helping her get there, right alongside Mach 555's fire coming in. Her eyes are wide and wild, and each pixelated punch comes harder than the last one. On and on, through the pipe, where she's left reeling from an overextending punch. She's about to recover, go after it to finish things off--
And she's probably the closest one to it.
Punchrush adrenaline gives way to some sense again, and she gasps before folding her arms in front of herself a moment before everything goes up in a massive, reused-construct-site-consuming fireball.
By the time it's over, she's left unsteady on her feet and working to stay upright, her Symphogear singed and shorn away in a select few places just from being so close to ground zero. But she's there, even if she's panting and heaving for reasons more than just exertion and pain, staring back in the direction they threw the Bugster before it blew itself up.
She's not unsteady for too long though, thanks to John coming up behind her before she noticed to put a hand on her shoulder. She didn't realize her arms were still held up until she looks back at him and lowers them slowly, glancing between him, Featherman, Go flashing his salute...and she can hear Rita calling after her, too.
'That just means you don't trust us at all, Hibiki..?!'
A few quiet moments pass, and then she slowly puts on a small smile. It looks a little tired almost, right down to the look in her eyes, but it's genuine. In the back of her mind, those words are still lingering, but right this moment she can keep them pushed back there thanks to everyone else's words. "...Thanks. For--" She starts saying something, stops, and shakes her head. "...Thanks for everything, you guys."
|X|| X look out!
X is sent flying, hurled off his feet by the force of the self-destruct sequence. Between Cantio and his Operator, though, he is able to prevent himself from being taken totally off guard by the Bugster's bombastic self-blowout. As he picks himself up off the ground, X grimaces, but looks meaningfully between Xion and Go before dusting himself off, and nodding. "..right. I'll let him know, Go. We can talk more after cleanup," he says with an affirming squint. X then places his forefinger up against one of the round, red nodules in his helmet. " ... clear. Send in the medical team!"
A series of lights fall from the sky and materialize, just as X had before, into the gargantuan medical reploid known as Lifesaver, as well as a pair of much more normal sized ones bedecked in nursing gear, as well as a hovering, armored ambulance.
"Stabilize him. We're going to be collaboratng with the local hospital to treat the patient ASAP; there's no time to waste."
The steadfast Chief Medical Officer leaves no room for arguments as his assistants bend down and deploy a space-age stretcher under the human left behind and carry him up into the back of the ambulance. Lifesaver follows them in a heartbeat later, and after the hatch closes behind him, it lifts and at a steady pace begins to head out, siren blaring.
X, awkwardly, looks to Hibiki. While his face has a mostly unreadable neutrality to it, there's the briefest tinge of hurt in his eyes as he considers something, before his expression reverts to a stone-like and professional veneer.
We're pulling all active fighting forces out of the area.
"I understand. In that case, once we're done with post-op, I'll link up with Lifesaver."
|Xion||Holding the enemy down for the incredible transformations of Hibiki's Action 52 gashat of twin elemental destruction and Mach's first run in the impressive Mach 555 form... Xion has a moment to watch. Just a bit, but she always can find a moment to look.
It's heady. Like alcohol. Thick and floral and happy, it hides the sickness. Doubt. Silent suffering. Pain, and not the physical kind.
Which is it? Whose heart? It's so hard to find, in the glowing flame and surging wind and crystal ice and...
Dropping out of the air as time catches up to her and her magics fade, she instinctively moves away -- and passes by Haru.
She stops. Waits, bringing up a bubble-field guard against the Bugster's STOP'ed final detonation.
They're happy, at the end. But Xion is crying.
She turns away from the final moments of the bugster and extends a hand. "Do you want to head out early and get something to eat? We don't have to talk about rider stuff."
|Hibiki Tachibana|| There's a moment, when Hibiki is glancing around, where she locks eyes with X. Just as awkwardly. Even before his own flash of emotion, her own lips purse tightly and her expression falls visibly. His tightens up, and she glances back off and away to the side.
There's something she wanted to say, but it catches in her throat.
|Hamada Haru||Riotrooper Prima 01 doesn't even attempt to escape the self-destruct. In truth, he doesn't really need to. Relatively heavy armor has to be battered through before 'he' is in danger, and when the air clears he's standing there, a little scorched but no more so than a typical battle might cause. The barrel of the gun-phone in his hand twitches towards the ground, angled away from anyone in particular.
There are a lot of well-dones exchanged that he might not 'feel' even if he was in a good way.
After a moment of staring into space he twists the phone back into its normal configuration, fingers hovering over the keypad contemplatively.
He seems at ease with stewing in his own juices until Xion starts trying to bug him about it, but she's not who actually gets an immediate reaction. The emotional attentiveness is visible enough on Xion's mental senses, but it swings //hard// onto Hibiki.
"If your resolve to destroy is so feeble that it wavers on first contact with resistance like that, give it up and never resolve to destroy again," Haru says, replacing his phone in its belt setting. He waves a hand towards Xion, perhaps assenting, and starts to head back towards his -- Tetra's -- motorcycle. As he goes, he finishes the thought, "Our kind of people are meant to look towards and pay for the difficult path. 'No, it must be this way.' is the cry of ordinary people. Not us."
|Hibiki Tachibana|| <X-Watch-Chatter> Zephyrman says, "You gonna be OK?"
Hamada Haru whirls onto her with words that cut right to the point, and her expression falls into one not too far away from when she was exchanging looks with X. No, more than that, her hands clench back tightly at her sides, and more than just the flashes of regret she felt towards the Reploid, she's...frustrated.
Her mouth actually opens to say something this time, but the immediate tone it does is--harsh. The second she does it, she pushes it back down by force so it never gets further than a brief sound and a heavy exhale.
Who the hell are you to say anything about my resolve when I just had to make a choice like that, and now X probably hates me for it?
...She feels disgusted she even thought of it. That's not fair at all. But...
She shakes her head and, without looking back at him, finally gives a response back to John.. "...I'm fine. Come on, let's go home."