Sunday, July 4, 2010

Kamen Rider Den-Ae Episode 01

And now for something completely French.

[A certain day in June, near a certain school on the Seine…]

    Summer came with the usual fanfare at Kadic Academy, and even after finally being relieved of their duty, the ex-Lyoko Warriors hadn’t noticed much difference. Ulrich and Odd had managed to avoid convincing their parents to ship them back to their home countries with substandard marks, Yumi performed within her own family’s expectations, and it was no surprise to anyone that Jeremy and Aelita were graduating with honors.
    None of this was on Aelita’s mind, however, as she sat at the bank of the river – as she was wont to do these past few days – and contemplated the factory just across the expanse of water. The old car plant – more specifically, the supercomputer hidden underneath – had served far too many roles for her over these past few years.
    Sanctuary. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 to 15 years, she’d spent in stasis on the digital world of Lyoko, hiding from the people who were after her parents.
    Prison. In that time, however, her devirtualization code had been horribly corrupted, and some days it was only Jeremy’s infatuation with her that had kept her alive and out of XANA’s clutches.
    Gateway. Even after breaking the ties that effectively made the supercomputer her life support, though, she and the others depended on it to stop the rogue AI from wreaking havoc on the Internet proper – and in the real world – once and for all.
    But at what cost?
    The cost…thanks to the Return To The Past system, that was a little hard to quantify. The bits of history that weren’t rewritten, though, made the picture a little clearer: constant deception of the Kadic faculty, theft of a nuclear fuel rod, the whole debacle with William Dunbar…
    …and Father. Franz Hopper, Waldo Schaeffer, whatever you wanted to call him – the man who raised Aelita and designed Lyoko eventually gave his own life to help the gang put a permanent end to XANA.
    …but does it end there? CAN it end there? Aelita pondered the questions left unanswered in the wake of her father’s sacrifice and the supercomputer’s deactivation. Who was hunting us down back then, and are they still looking for me now? Where will I go after I’m finally done with school at Kadic? And why…why do I seem to be the only one who remembers Mother?
    The image seared into her mind since childhood resurfaced. In her mind’s eye, Aelita saw once again the pleading face of Antea Hopper, pressed against the back window of a jet-black SUV as it sped off the Schaeffer family’s winter estate.
    And she wept for lack of any answers, as she had every day since she’d started sneaking off to the river bank.

Kamen Rider Den-Ae
An always-at-climax Code Lyoko crossover by /m/’s Haken Browning

    Code Lyoko TM and © The MoonScoop group and subsidiaries.
    Original Kamen Rider Den-O concept TM/© Ishinomori Productions/Toei Co. Ltd.
    This work is a non-profit, non-commercial combination of the above, with certain elements copyleft Team Phantom Tiger.

Episode 1: Pre-Boarding Check! Secure All Party Members!

    “Y’know…I should’ve figured you’d be here.”
    The pink-haired girl turned around, her still-puffy face meeting that of the speaker. “Jeremy…”
    The bespectacled blonde took a seat next to Aelita, setting his backpack down. “I’m pretty sure you’re thinking about a lot of the same things I’ve been wondering about over the last few days…and trust me when I say it hits home for me as hard as it does for you.”
    “Yeah…” Jeremy withdrew a tissue from somewhere in his backpack, wiping one of Aelita’s tears away. “I can’t really compare with what you’re dealing with in terms of family, but…I just can’t feel right with all I’ve had to do to support you here as ‘Aelita Stones.’ Sure, we’ll have another year of school together here, but after that…”
    Several seconds of silence passed. “…Sounds like you’ve run up against the same wall I have.”
    “Yeah…” Jeremy continued. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…I don’t think I could still be happy with myself – with us – if you’re still dependent on me after we finish here, maybe even before then. Makes me feel like I’m taking care of you as a pet, when I’d really like for us to be…equals? Partners? Something along those lines.”
    “I was just thinking something like that…but it seems like there’s still so much to figure out about ME. I kinda wish I could strike out on my own, but it just doesn’t seem safe to do so quite yet. The whole family thing, y’know?”
    “Right, right…” Jeremy withdrew his cell phone, noting the time displayed. “You want to start heading back? Yumi said this new coffee shop opened up in town a few days ago, and was wondering if we could all meet up there today.”
    “Oh, in about fifteen minutes.”
    Aelita smirked as she put her arms around Jeremy. “If you were gonna come down here to ask me out on a date, you should’ve just said so!”
    “But you…and all the…oh, fine.” The blonde blushed as they got up and broke off the embrace. “Just…please, don’t go off on your own like this, OK? There’s safety concerns; you said it yourself.”
    “Well, where do you expect me to contemplate the universe? And don’t say ‘my dorm’ or ‘your dorm,’ Jim would have a fit.”
    Jeremy’s blush intensified as the duo made their way back to civilization.

[A few minutes later, in the commercial district of Bolounge-Billancourt…]

    Aelita peered at the sign atop the storefront as she and Jeremy approached the other half of their party. “’Milk Dipper,’ huh? Sounds like a better name for a candy store, really.”
    “Yeah, the proprietors are supposed to be Japanese,” Yumi Ishiyama piped up, “and you know the love affair Japanese businesses have with western words, especially English.”
    “Go figure. Anyway, sorry we’re late.”
    “Don’t be. Ulrich and Odd just got here a couple minutes ago themselves.” Yumi thumbed at the brunette and blonde behind her. “And I’m actually expecting a couple more right about…” Her eyes darted both ways down the street before locking onto the newcomers in question. “…now!”
    The other four turned as the last two members of the group approached…and Ulrich Stern’s jaw dropped. “Sissi and William? Seriously? You invited THOSE two?”
    “Actually, it was Odd’s idea.”
    The brunette turned to his companion. “WHAT? C’mon, Odd, this is a serious violation of bro code!”
    Odd Della Robbia crossed his arms. “It’s an intervention, is what it is! Every night, I have to deal with you agonizing about keeping both Yumi and Sissi away from each other’s throats and out of your pants. The sooner we get everything straightened out between the three of you, the less summer time you waste sulking. Same goes for Yumi dealing with you and William – Hiroki’s been complaining about her every afternoon in the rec room.”
    “So wait…” Sissi Delmas piped up, adjusting her hair band. “…you told me to meet Ulrich here for group therapy instead of a date? I swear, if you’re doing this to keep us apart, I’ll-“
    “C’mon, Sissi, it can’t be THAT bad.” William Dunbar pulled his hands out of his pockets. “Heck, I really just decided to come here to try the coffee, but if you guys really think there’s some weird stuff going on with the four of us, I’m at least willing to hear you out.”
    “Ummm…wow,” Jeremy interjected.
    “’Wow’ what?”
    “It’s been, what, two months? And I’m still not used to hearing William be reasonable.”
    “Two months since wha-Oh.” Sissi caught herself as she recalled what the rest of the gang had told her about how they’d covered for William’s abduction by XANA. A fair portion of the 9th grade graduating class at Kadic was also pretty dumbfounded by the temporary drop in ‘William’s’ intelligence at the time, actually. “All right, fine, I’m willing to be civil about this, too. But if you pull a fast one, Della Robbia, I swear my father’s gonna be investigating the strange odors coming out of your room by lights out tonight, got it?”
    Odd gulped at the implicit threat at the well-being of his beloved (and contraband) Kiwi before nodding.
    “Well, now that we’ve gotten the drama out of our systems for the day, let’s see what this place has to offer, shall we?” With that, Jeremy pushed the door open for the group to enter.

[Inside the shop…]

    Despite the confines of metropolitan real estate, Milk Dipper managed to contain enough tables and chairs that the seven could sit together comfortably. “I see menus,” Odd inquired, “are we supposed to stay seated restaurant-style or can we just order up front?”
    “Oh, we tend to do it both ways…” a sing-song female voice cut in. The group turned to see an older pink-haired woman who could be easily mistaken for Aelita ten years down the road, were it not for the streak of blue running down the left side of her locks. “Well, garcons et filles, I’ll give you a couple minutes to peruse the menu – if you decide before I get back, just ask for ‘Madame Crim’ at the counter, OK?”
    The gang thanked Madame Crim as she strode toward the nearest service door, unaware that the blue streak in her hair was quickly receding…

[In the employee break room…]

    ‘Madame Crim’ slumped into one of the chairs as a blue, ogre-like humanoid wrested himself out of the body. “Ugh…remind me again why I had to take the girl out on serving duty?” Urataros grumbled as he tried to work a crick out of his neck.
    “Because if we let Momo out there, he’d scare the customers off, duh,” a Japanese girl no taller than Milly replied. “Honestly, bringing a combat body for restaurant work? He’s gotta be nuts.”
    “Or Sempai just thinks he can fight his way to the people we’re looking for.” The turtle Imagin snickered. “Moot point anyway, though, seeing as how they’re already here.”
    Hana’s jaw dropped.
    “Yep, the party of seven that just got here. Six of ‘em are Singularity Points.”
    “Do they have any idea what we’re doing here?”
    “Nope. But one in particular…I can’t QUITE read her 100%. Could be a Junction Point, could be something else, I dunno. Which makes her PERFECT to be the frontman…woman…whatever.” Urataros drew a deep breath as he faded back into ‘Madame Crim’s’ shell, the blue streak returning to ‘her’ hair. “I’m gonna go see if they’re ready to order – tell the others to be ready with THOSE glasses, OK?”
    Hana flashed an A-OK sign as the pink-haired lady exited the break room.

[Behind the inside counter…]

    “Grrr…fucking cappuccinos, how do they work?” Momotaros clutched the sides of his head – well, the head of the purple-haired shell he was currently possessing. “All I know ‘bout making coffee is how to brew the stuff, not how to doll it up!”
    “Makes you wish Naomi could come help us out, huh?” Momo’s companion, a dark-haired teenager, replied. “I think I’ve picked up enough from my sis to get everything right…”
    “You better have, Ryoutaro, otherwise who knows what’ll happen if we screw this up!”
    “The coffee or the mission?”
    Hana pushed through the service door at that moment. “Guys, Ura says he’s found our subjects. Make sure you use seven #7 glasses for their orders, OK?”
    The duo stared as the girl retreated. “…Well, THAT was fast,” Momo broke the silence.
    “It’s the best we can hope for without trying to be up-front about it…”

[A few minutes and glasses of beverages later…]

    “Hey Princess, what’s that on the bottom of your glass?”
    Aelita peered down at the remains of her frappe. “Just whipped cream. I can never seem to drink that with the rest of these-“
    “No, the bottom bottom.” Odd pointed at the glass’s exterior.
    “Huh?” Lifting it, the girl withdrew a folded piece of paper that was taped underneath. “Maybe they’re doing some sort of inaugural giveaway, let’s see what it says…” Aelita unfolded the paper…and frowned. “Shoot, it’s in Japanese. Yumi, you mind?”
    The group’s resident Asian took the paper to interpret. “’Congratulations – your party is invited to take the train ride of the year – all years! Please ask at the front counter after payment for booking and redemption details.’ Seems you just won us a free cruise, Aelita – but why would they print this in Japanese instead of French or at least English?”
    “Guess we’ll have to ask about THAT, too…”
    A matter of minutes later, the group decided that each member would settle their bills separately. Last in line to pay at the front counter, Aelita slipped the prize ticket into the ever-perky Madame Crim’s hand along with the fee for her drink. “Would you happen to have any idea what this says?”
    “Oh? Why…huh, I thought I told those two to make sure this got printed in multiple languages!” Crim pocketed the slip as she withdrew the necessary change from the till. “I managed to overhear your friend translating, however, and I can assure you that you HAVE just won a free train ride for your whole group!”
    “So when can we redeem this trip?”
    Crim grinned. “How’s right now sound?”
    “Right now?” Jeremy blanched. “But we haven’t packed or anything, and we’re expected back at school in a few hours…”
    “Details, details…” The pink-haired woman turned toward the mixing counter. “Oi, Ryou! Momo! C’mere and give our guests the business about their free trip!”
    The black-haired male started speaking as he and his purple-haired companion walked up. “Well, you see, the train actually-wait, did you just call him Momo?” ‘Ryou’ thumbed at his partner.
    “I think we can start dropping the charade at this point…” Madame Crim’s voice started taking on a more masculine tone as ‘she’ addressed the teens. “You see…we kinda need your help starting European service for a VERY big Japanese venture.”
    A look of shock flashed across the group’s faces. Sissi and Yumi shifted their hands into their pockets, ready to dial emergency numbers on their cell phones discreetly.
    “What? No, no no, not THAT sort of business,” the purple-haired male piped up. “That’d be too stupid for us to do all this work. We just need staff for a new time-traveling train, is all.”
    The shock intensified.
    Ulrich was the first to squeak out a response: “D-did you just say ‘time-traveling train?’”
    Jeremy quickly unfroze. “More importantly, did you say ‘NEW time-traveling train?’ As in, you’ve ALREADY got one?”
    “Mm-hmm,” ‘Madame Crim’ smirked.
    “I…I think we’re gonna need a minute-“
    “We’d be happy to help.” The others turned to Aelita, dumbfounded by her interjection. “…Or at least, I would.”
    “Princess, just WHAT did they put in your coffee?” Odd quickly caught himself. “Wait, was Aelita the only one to order a frappe, or is it part of the blend, or-“
    “We don’t add any mind-altering substances to our coffee, I assure you,” ‘Ryou’ tried to calm the situation. “But just why did you say yes so quickly, ma’am?”
    “Well…it’s complicated. Let’s just say I’m trying to get a head start on leaving the nest.”
    “It doesn’t pay MUCH, if that’s what you’re looking for.”
    “Hey, I don’t remember being paid at a-“ ‘Momo’ tried to get out before one of ‘Madame Crim’’s hands covered his mouth.
    “As long as it’s enough for me to be independent, it doesn’t matter.” Aelita turned to the rest of the group. “Though a little assistance would be appreciated. Guys? You want in on this?”
    “In on WHAT?” William asked. “I’m still thinking this whole thing is a little sketchy.”
    “Me too,” Sissi said. Yumi and Ulrich nodded their agreement.
    “Maybe if you got a better look at exactly what we DO, you could make a better-informed decision.” ‘Ryou’ withdrew a palm-sized rectangular card from his pocket and walked toward the front door. “Should be another 15 seconds…”
    “15 seconds for what?”
    “For boarding, obviously.”
    “But we’re nowhere near the train station!” Odd piped up.
    “This train’s a little…different when it comes to boarding.” Several clocks throughout the building and on the kids’ mobile phones hit 2:02:02 PM as ‘Ryou’ pressed the card to the door, eliciting a strange whistling noise from outside. Upon opening the door, ‘Ryou’ took account of the group’s collective shock that it had opened into the interior of a bullet train rather than the suburban Parisian street from whence they had entered the Milk Dipper. “DenLiner is now boarding for our honored guests.”


[Next Episode Preview]

    (clips from the next episode start playing as the voiceover reel starts)
Toei Announcer: Kamen Rider Den-Ae!
    Owner: We have invited you here because you are the only ones who can perceive this new threat.
    Jeremy: Wait…it’s because we’re experienced time travelers?
    Aelita: “Kamen Rider?” But I didn’t want to continue fighting!
    Ryoutaro: Would you rather know peace…or the truth about your parents?
    William: You’re sending her out there without any weapons?
    Jeremy: Our decision…is final.
    [Title Card: Episode 02: Ride of a Lifetime! Awaken, New Densha Rider!]
    Toei Announcer: The truth lies at the end of the line!

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