:Text delimited like so represents telepathic speech (with a tip of the hat to Mercedes Lackey-sama).:
     Right, here we go!  Please deflate your shoes and make sure your wig is securely locked down…

Bio-Booster Armor Guyver and all related characters
and situations are © 2000 Yoshiki Takaya.
Rifts® is a registered trademark owned and licensed by Kevin
Siembieda and Palladium Books, Inc.

At the dawn of creation, the Gods arrived on Earth.
Now we shall know their awful legacy…
…and how it affects the Megaverse.

[OP: Guyver OAV Theme, Yoshiki Takaya]

The Evil Midnight Lurker what Lurks at Midnight
in association with
The Insane Banana

_____________C H Ô J I K Û S E N S H I____ ______ / __________/ / / \ / | / / / / / / _______ / / \/ | / /____ /_____/ / / /___ / / / / | / / / | \ \_____/ / /_____/ / |/ /_____ / | \_________/ --Superdimensional Warrior Guyver--

By W. Samuel Ashley

Stage One:

Part One
The Mind’s Dark Eye

     An eternity of silent darkness…
     …shattered by light.
     Where am I?
     Not the most original thought, but he could be excused as things were more than a bit blurry.  Who he was was also up for debate.
     How long was I dead?
     Wait, that didn’t sound right…shouldn’t that have been “how long was I asleep?”  He was fairly certain that death should be more… final…and yet the thought remained, along with the idea that he’d been dead before.  More than once.  Maybe he ought to work on that “who am I” bit…
     Fukamachi.  I’m Shô Fukamachi…
     Better.  Memories were beginning to sort themselves out.  Childhood…school…friends…Tetsurô.  He and Tetsurô, walking in the woods near Mount Narisawa…
     Something happened that day…something important.  Why can’t I remember clearly…?
     An explosion in the distance!  Something hurled toward them by the blast, a thing of metal and…flesh.  Alien flesh, that arose and engulfed him…
     The Unit!  That was the day I found it…or it found me…
     …the day I became a Guyver.
     New memories now, a torrent of nightmare images that threatened to devour him.  Zoanoids!  Wave after wave of hideously altered soldiers, human tools of the Kronos organization in their bid to remake mankind.  Each more powerful and more deadly than the last, each determined to destroy Shô…each falling before the power of his alien bio-booster armor.  Even Shô’s own death couldn’t end the madness; the control medallion reached into his dying brain, captured and stored his mind, and recreated him to fight anew.  He’d been killed twice…
     No.  Three times, now.
     Three.  But he could only remember two…first by the hand of Genzô Makishima, the first Enzyme; then…
     NO!  Not again!  I don’t want to know, don’t want to SEE…!
     …then by Fumio Fukamachi.
     His father.
     His father, remade into a new Enzyme, unable to resist Barcas’s telepathic commands…the claws, striking out at his son’s head…
     …then the darkness of pseudo-death, followed by light…and the terrible knowledge that the mindless Guyver had killed its opponent.  Killed his father…
     I supressed the memory, blocked it out so totally I didn’t remember I’d tried to rescue Dad in the first place.  But Aptom broke the block, forced me to face reality…Why is it happening again?  I don’t know what killed me, how I got here…where here is…
     Maybe it was time to deal with that.  With a shudder, Shô forced himself more fully awake and tried to sit up.  He failed at first, then readjusted to the Guyver’s form.  He’d been lying on some kind of cushion, almost repellently soft; the light was too faint to make anything out…
     With a thought, the armor’s optics enhanced his nightvision… revealing a scene of devastation.
     A tangle of rusted girders and chunks of concrete lay around him; a damp rock wall arose beyond.  Patches of dully phosphorescent fungi clung to it, providing scant illumination; the wall curved around in a great circle, and above to form a dome perhaps a quarter-mile wide.  A cave…
     The cave under Relics Point!  This is the observation dome they dug out around the Iseki!  But it looks…abandoned…
     More recent images were coming back now.  After all the effort they’d made to escape from Mount Minakami, Shô and his friends had wound up going back in…testing a renegade Kronos scientist’s theory, that the bio-booster armor’s telepathic transceivers could command the Iseki, the living Ship of the Advents; that they could use it to escape, and in the process destroy Relics Point. But it had all gone wrong, horribly wrong…and still his mind shied away from the details.
     Groaning in frustration, Shô levered himself off the cushion and stood up to get a better view of the cave.  He remembered a vast, brightly-lit area, the prow of the Iseki, the Ruin, at the center of a web of observation platforms and scanning equipment, the cave ceiling opening into the two-mile-deep shaft leading down from Mount Minakami, the shaft’s Cyclopean central column that descended to touch the Iseki itself…
     All gone now.  Shô stood near the center of the cave, where the Iseki should have been; the rubble around him, he realized, was partly the remnants of the observation complex and partly fallen pieces of the column.  There was no sign of the Ruin, but the dark shaft above him was as narrow as ever; it could not have escaped that way…
     Wait.  Not all the rubble was steel and concrete…here and there, vast pallid spikes lay among the jackstraw-piled girders.  In size and shape they were a close match for the spines girdling the Iseki.
     We couldn’t save it.  I couldn’t save it, couldn’t stop…
     Couldn’t stop…
     The name eluded him.  An image danced around the corners of his mind, teasingly refusing to make itself clear.  Fire, and a suggestion of wings…
     Guyot?  No…he wasn’t the real threat, powerful as he’d seemed.  Murakami had nearly fallen before him, though, when…
     The image stabilized, and Shô shivered.  Anyone seeing the ancient First Zoalord in his glorious and terrible battlestyle could have no doubt that legends of the Fall were based in fact; would know that tales of angels and demons alike had their source in eons-old glimpses of Arkanfæl.  The ten lesser Zoalords, trailing in his wake, were by comparison utterly insignificant.  He destroyed his traitorous underling Guyot in an instant, then turned his attention to Shô and the others.  They didn’t stand a chance.  Guyot, weakest of the Twelve, could survive a point-blank megasmasher blast; Supervisor Odagiri was certain that Arkanfæl would simply ignore anything Shô and Agito could throw at him.  But there was one slight weakness…
     He remembered the council of war.

     “The Zoalords don’t really possess ‘energy shields’ as such,” Odagiri-shunin informed the nervous assemblage in his Basement conference room.  “They psionically create and control radiant energy and gravity; while they can build barriers, it’s far more efficient simply to warp incoming laser and particle blasts away from them.  That’s undoubtedly how Guyot survived your mega-smasher bolt, Makishima-san.”
     The darkly handsome young man scowled.  “This isn’t good.  If Fukamachi and I combine full-power blasts we might be able to overload his power and take him out.  Might.  But that leaves eleven more.  If we could just take them on one at a time…!”
     Odagiri shook his head.  “I haven’t given you the bad news yet.”
     “Fire away, Doc,” Tetsurô Segawa sighed.  “We’re already so low on hope we’re running on fumes.  How much worse can it get?”
     “I’ll grant you might be able to deal with the eleven lesser Zoalords one-on-one,” the renegade explained.  “Khan, van Purgstall, Amniculus… they’re all on a par with Guyot.  But Arkanfæl is another matter entirely.”
     “The mysterious, never-seen founder of Kronos,” Agito smirked.  “How much of a threat can someone who’s afraid to show his face be?”
     “More than you can possibly imagine.  I’ve recently come into possession of new information that totally invalidates many of our beliefs about the organization.
     “To begin with, Kronos was not founded by humans who stumbled across Kôrin-sha technology.  Far from it.  Arkanfæl built it up almost single-handedly, after Barcas discovered him in suspended animation four hundred years ago.”
     A wave of exclamations and oaths swept across the table, followed by numb shock…on all but Shô, who’d guessed already where this was going.  It was Murakami who broke the silence:  “You’re saying Arkanfæl wasn’t given his powers by Barcas, or anyone in Kronos.  That makes him…”
     “The original model,” Odagiri finished.  “Created by the Advents themselves, a hundred thousand years ago, as the commander of their Zoanoid army.
     “And the powers they gave him exceed those of all other beings on Earth combined.  Including you two Guyvers, every Zoanoid in existence, and the eleven lesser Zoalords.”
     There was dead silence for a minute or so.
     Tetsurô broke it.  “That doesn’t make any sense!  Why all the secrecy, the infiltration and buildup to X-Day, if he has that kind of power?  He could’ve just levelled every government on Earth back in the sixteenth century—by now we’d all be worshipping the bastard!”
     “I’m not absolutely clear on that point myself,” Odagiri shrugged.  “It most probably has to do with his only real weakness: like all the Zoalords he tires after excessive use of his powers, and it seems to be far worse in his case.  Apparently he has to spend most of his time in hibernation, sleeping in some remote hideaway known only to himself and Barcas.”
     Tetsurô sat back, mind spinning furiously.  “Yeah, I can see that.  Let me guess: while he’s awake he’s a god, but asleep some human nobody with a grudge and a sharp knife could stamp his account closed.  …But, if Arky happened to bond with a bio-booster…?”
     “I imagine the Guyver’s regenerative abilities would solve that problem quite nicely, yes.”
     “And, of course, he’s wide awake at the moment.”  Tetsurô grimaced.  “And if your informants are right, he and the whole damn Council will be here in under an hour to deal with Guyot. …Shô, tell me you’ve got good news for us.”
     “I wish I could,” the student-turned-warrior sighed, checking his mindlink to the Ruin just in case.  “Same as before: there’s no way the Iseki’s going to be ready in less than six hours.  It has been feeding me images about some kind of upgrade for the Guyver, but I get the idea it’d take at least a year to grow one.”
     “An upgrade…?” Agito queried.  “Just for curiosity’s sake, how much power are we talking about?”
     “More than enough to take down Guyot, but I’m not sure beyond that.  Like a giant suit of bioarmor over the Guyver, with amped-up versions of all its weapons…guess you could call it a Guyver Gigantic or some such.  I got the Iseki to start one up, just on the outside chance we live through this, but there’s no way it’ll be ready anytime soon.”
     “One?  Why not two?”
     “Too much of a power drain.  It’d have to shut down the engines completely.”
     “Wonderful.”  Tetsurô rubbed his temples.  “A ship that won’t fly, a superweapon that doesn’t exist.  Doc, d’you have any ideas that don’t involve surrender or seppuku?!”
     “Only one.”  Odagiri walked over to a long chest sitting against the back wall.  “When the Kronos Japan crew analyzed Lisker’s armor, they reached some tentative conclusions about its particle-beam cannons.  Conclusions we’ve been attempting to put into practice.”
     He opened the chest, and took out…something.  It was spectacularly ugly; Shô decided it resembled nothing so much as an AK-47 that was being devoured by a small shoggoth.
     “This is a prototype weapon, a ‘beam rifle’ if you will, something that could be carried and used by human soldiers.  We’ve only managed to grow this one without being discovered, and obviously we don’t dare test-fire it, but—theoretically—it should duplicate, or even exceed, the power of a full mega-smasher blast.
     “Unfortunately, without whatever power source the Guyver taps into, this version basically converts itself into energy.  Along, most likely, with its operator.”
     “You have got to be kidding.  A one-shot suicide gun that won’t do much more than give Zoalords a sunburn?”
     “That, Segawa-san, is about all it can do.  But I didn’t have a straightforward shootout in mind.
     “I told you, before, that the Zoalords control radiant energy.  But this is not an automatic process!  They have to concentrate, to consciously shape the power to their will.  If we can break their concentration, take them by surprise…a distraction might well cause even Arkanfæl to shift his attention elsewhere, drawing his power away just enough for the two of you to hit him with a real attack.  His unguarded body can’t possibly withstand your combined beams.  It’s a long shot, but it’s the only hope I can see.”
     “So,” Agito spoke up, “we confront the God Generals, charge up our ’smashers, and while they’re snickering someone else takes a shot at them from behind or to one side with this…thing?  And then, when they’re off guard…boom.”
     “Have you lost your mind?!  I’ve felt Guyot’s power…the thought of having to deal with a dozen like him at once is sheer lunacy!  Even if it did work…if they managed to parry even a tiny fraction of our blasts, it’d be enough to kill us all!”
     “And I suppose you’ve got a better idea?” Tetsurô asked.
     “As a matter of fact, yes.  So the Ruin can’t launch yet?  So what? It still makes a perfect hiding place!  We quietly pile aboard, the Council turn Guyot into a thin red mist, look around, assume we’ve escaped, and most or all of them leave to hunt us down.  Six hours from now we launch straight up through Relics Point as per the original plan, and then go to ground somewhere while the Iseki grows us a pair of those Gigantic things.”
     “If it comes to that,” Tetsurô pointed out, “it’d only take one Zoalord to shoot the Ruin down as we launched.  Better no ship at all than one in our hands, right?  I agree with the Supervisor.  Our only chance is to stand up and fight…and even if we…die,” he went on, paling slightly, “we can at least try to take Arkanfæl and the Council with us!  No Zoalords means no slavemasters for the Zoanoid army, and no Barcas to come up with new designs…if nothing else, we could give the rest of the world a fighting chance.”
     Shô locked eyes with Agito.  “He’s right, you know.  If we run now we’ll be running for the rest of our lives, and that won’t be a long time!  Even if we could get away with the Iseki, it’d take years to grow a hyper-booster… maybe decades, it’s not all that clear.  We don’t have that kind of time; by then Kronos’d be in total control!  Even a hyper-Guyver wouldn’t stand a chance against a planet full of Zoanoids.  Running just doesn’t work.  I say we make our stand here, today.  If the Professor’s plan works…we won’t just be throwing our lives away, not if we can wipe those bastards out.”
     Shô’d been expecting more of an argument, really, but Agito always could find ways to surprise him.  The older boy was silent, a completely unfamiliar uncertainty writ large on his face.  There was no time to pursue this further, though, with Guyot and Arkanfæl tearing their way down through Relics Point and the rest of the Twelve close on their heels.
     “Any further objections?” Odagiri-shunin asked.  Silence greeted him. “Then we just need an operator for the beam-rifle…”

     …and with that, Shô’s memory ground to a halt.  The mental equivalent of three-foot-thick steel doors slammed into place, cutting him off in mid-flashback.
     “NO!”  His armor-synthesized scream rang across the cave, breaking its perfect silence for the first time as he drove a fist into a nearby girder and snapped it like a reed.  “Dammit, I can’t do this again!”  Shô ranted on, desperately trying to reason with his own subconscious mind.  If he’d suppressed some other traumatic event, there was no telling what might trigger it again, keep him from using the Guyver at some critical moment.  However much he might hate what fate had made of him, Shô desperately needed the bio-booster’s power now.  To defend the human race from Kronos… to save his friends and allies… to protect Tetsurô and…
     There was a hole in his mind, and now he could see its shape: a hole where a person should have been.  Someone he knew, someone close to him… closer even than Tetsurô…
     Had he killed again?
     The answer lay somewhere within.  Once more at war with his inner self, Shô descended into a mælstrom of dark memory…

     This was their last stand, and their last hope.
     The Iseki was dying.  Still linked to its control-medallion computer system—no, Shô corrected himself, to its soul—he could feel its terrible pain; and, worse, its shame at having failed its Captain.
     Failed him.
     The Iseki was dying, and Shô could spare no part of his mind for grief, because Guyot was dead and his killer stood before them.  Because Murakami was dying, burning the last of his power to shield their allies.  Because Agito stood by his side, their mega-smashers charging in unison, in what must surely strike their opponents as the last word in futility.
     The eleven remaining Kronos God Generals were arrayed before them, resplendent in their elaborate robes and shoulder armor.  Hamilcal Barcas, wizened and greybearded, zoacrystal gleaming in his forehead.  Shin Rubeo Amniculus, Arkanfæl’s second in command.  Luggnagg de Krumeggnik, grinning wryly at their foolishness.  Kablar Khan, shriveled form levitating above the rest.  Others, some nearly human, some distorted mockeries, whose names Shô had never learned and now never would.
     And in the lead, burning like the morning star, the first of them all. He whose desires had shaped human civilization from its beginnings, who had protected his hidden people from those who would destroy them— not out of any humanitarian urge, but because of an ancient, insatiable desire for conquest, and because the Zoanoids were helpless to resist his every command.
     The cavern was too small, it seemed, to contain his might.  Near-tangible waves of zoapower affected even the unmodified humans, nibbling away at undeveloped telepathic receptors, urging them to fall down and worship the First One’s awful majesty.
     Only two of all there assembled were completely unaffected.  Shô and Agito felt nothing beyond perfectly justifiable fear; knew, finally, the true meaning of the alien word “Guyver”.
     Not “beyond the norm”.  Not “out of control”.
     Beyond control.
     “You really are bent on self-destruction, aren’t you?” the Super-Zoalord marveled, that mellow, commanding voice echoing throughout the cave.  “I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this… but, really, I never expected to find surviving bio-booster units in the first place; their loss will do nothing to Kronos’s plans—and far be it from me to deny such dedication.
     “You would, I suspect, have made excellent Zoalords—far better than this,” he gestured at Guyot’s dissolving corpse.
     “Never!” Agito bit out before Shô could respond.  “Once I might have walked Guyot’s path—though in his place I would not have failed—” (here Arkanfæl actually nodded slowly) “—but I see now that there are higher, better roads to travel.  I blamed Kronos’s existence, my true father’s death, on corrupt humanity.  I see, now, that humanity never had anything to do with it—that all along, all the corruption was in you!  Even if it means our own deaths, we will destroy you!”
     The small part of Shô’s mind not keeping track of the situation was shocked.  Not half an hour ago, Agito Makishima had been the sole dissenting voice in council; if what Murakami-san had told him and Tetsurô in private was even partially true, Guyver III was dedicated to overthrowing Kronos and then setting himself up as the immortal emperor of Earth.  And yet, just then, he’d sounded more utterly sincere than Shô could ever remember him being.  What in the name of the kamis had happened to him?!
     No time for that.  There would be no time for anything else in this life. The Guyver’s sensor discs scanned and rescanned Arkanfæl’s psionic defense field, coming up with the same answer each time: the effect was at its strongest where the two Guyvers stood, more than enough power in it to warp their combined beams away—but not too much more; he must be conserving energy, only days or weeks away from hibernation.  It could work…!
     The mega-smashers hit peak capacity simultaneously.  But rather than firing, the two bio-boosters stood waiting for no more than a half-second…
     …and, with no warning whatsoever, a blinding beam of energy sliced into the Council from far off to the right!
     The Zoalords were taken utterly by surprise, charged particles smashing through their weak side-shields.  Three, including Barcas, were consumed in the firestorm; the others were badly burned.  Even Arkanfæl’s shield was pierced; blisters dotted his arm as he and the other survivors reflexively shifted their defenses to deal with the sudden threat…
     …and that was the signal for Shô and Agito to release their own pent-up bolts of power.
     The mega-smashers finished the job that the beam rifle had begun.  The remaining God Generals—even, Shô noted with a last moment of satisfaction, Arkanfæl himself—vanished like sandblasted ice-sculptures in that torrent of subnuclear fire.  But, as they’d feared, enough power was turned back by the First One to ensure their own destruction…
     As the flames consumed him, a few last impressions made their way into Shô’s mind.  Murakami’s shield held out, protecting Tetsurô and the renegades, though the proto-Zoalord would not himself live out the hour.  Agito’s dark form leaped back, in a desperate and possibly successful attempt to escape his own returned energies.  Shô, however, stood his ground—looking off to the right, to where the beam-rifle had been fired, straining for one last glimpse of—
     —and the walls came down again.

     He was beyond screaming now, fighting a grim war against deep-rooted defenses.
     “I have to know.  I have to know what happened.  I can’t rely on my power until I know the truth, no matter how painful it might be!”
     “I need the power!  If I’m still alive, and if any part of Kronos is left—I’ve got to be in control, to fight them, to defend the world, to protect—”
     Deep inside Shô’s mind, something gave way.
     To fight…
     Closer than Tetsurô…
     To defend…
     A hole where a person should have been…
     To protect.
     “We just need an operator for the beam rifle.”
     To protect the one who mattered more to him than life itself.
     No… oh gods, no… something else, anything else, let the world die in fire, let Arkanfæl rule forever, but not that, not her
     The last walls crumbled.

     “…Then we just need an operator for the beam rifle.”
     Odagiri-shunin’s people began discussing the merits of martyrdom.  Whoever actually fired the thing was unquestionably doomed; Shô, Agito, and Murakami were out of the running as they’d all be needed elsewhere.  Around half of the Basement crew, especially the older scientists, were at least vaguely willing to sacrifice themselves, but…
     It was Agito who came up with the most cogent objection.  “This whole plan,” he pointed out, “requires whoever has the gun to stand well away from everyone else in our group.  Doesn’t anyone think that’ll make Arkanfæl and the others just a bit suspicious?”
     “…He may be right,” Odagiri allowed.  “The operator has to be someone they’d never suspect.  Someone who seems absolutely harmless…”
     “There’s only one choice, then,” a new voice broke in.  “Give me the gun. I’ll do it.”
     All heads turned to the speaker, to…
     …Mizuki Segawa.
     Chaos erupted around the table.
     Tetsurô, seated next to his sister, sent his chair flying into the wall as he scrambled to his feet and grabbed her by the shoulders.  “Mizuki, tell me you’re joking!  You can’t possibly mean—”
     “Aniki,” she replied, brushing his arms away, “please, for once, just shut up.”  Mizuki turned, just in time to intercept Shô.  “And you, too,” she warned, cutting him off.  “Just listen…please…”  Her grey eyes brimmed with tears.
     “Shô…” she began.  “I wish it didn’t have to be this way.  I wish, more than anything, that we could’ve just lived out normal lives… but that never could have happened, even if you didn’t run into the Guyver.” She took his hands, tears now streaming down her face, as silence fell across the room.
     “And now we’re in so deep, that there isn’t any way out… and the only thing you and Makishima-san can do…” Mizuki fought to keep from breaking down completely.  “Do you really think I’d want to live in a world without you?!”
     “Mizuki…!”  Shô’s heart performed the difficult trick of sinking into his boots and leaping at the same time.  “Mizuki-chan, you’ve got to know… everything I’ve done, everything I let myself become, it was all…”
     “…I know, Shô.  And I love you for it.”  She buried her face in his chest.  “But we can’t just think of ourselves now… we can’t let Kronos ruin any more lives.  What they did to your father…to all those people in Takeshiro…  It must never happen again.  No matter what it takes.  And I am the only one here who’d get away with this.”
     She waved a hand around the room, indicating each group in turn.  “Odagiri-shunin?  Your people are the masterminds here—do you think the Zoalords won’t be watching you?
     “Onuma-san?  Shizu?  Not after that last fight… blowing a squad of Ramotiths away with shotguns isn’t exactly going to draw attention away from you.
     “Tetsurô?  Everyone knows you’re the brains of our little group.  If I were a Zoalord I’d wonder what you were up to…
     “But me…as far as anyone in Kronos is concerned, I’m harmless.”  A distinctly bitter edge crept into her voice.  “Ever since this started, I’ve been nothing but bait to them.  If I accidentally get separated from the rest of the group…they won’t even care!”
     No one answered her; no dissenting voice was raised, as Shô struggled to find some counter to the terrible weight of Mizuki’s logic.  He’d become a warrior, a killer, all to protect her.  And yet… if their sacrifice could destroy Kronos’s plans for humanity…
     Did he have any right to stop her?
     “…Mizuki-chan,” he managed, through a haze of his own tears.  “All I ever wanted… was to live an ordinary life… with you.  I guess that just wasn’t meant to be…
     “You know how much I want to say ‘no,’ to find someone else.  But I can’t…gods help me, I can’t.  If you’re sure this is what you want…”
     “I’m sure,” she whispered.  “I won’t live without you, Shô…but we will be together again.  I know it.”
     The silence was shattered by a shrieking alarm.  “Sir!” a tech called to Odagiri.  “Guyot’s just broken into Sector Fifteen—figure we have ten minutes max before they hit the Basement!”
     The renegades’ leader stood, looking years older and wearier than he had a few minutes before.  “We have no more time for debate,” he said heavily. “Segawa-san… it seems you’ve left us no choice.  Everyone, to your posts—you have five minutes!”
     The conference room emptied, leaving only Shô, Mizuki, Tetsurô, Shizu, Odagiri, and a distinctly shellshocked Agito behind.  “Segawa-san,” the professor sighed, “I’ll be in the main lab, with the beam rifle.  You’ve all got five minutes to say whatever needs to be said, then meet me there.”
     As he left, Mizuki regretfully broke away from Shô’s embrace and turned to her brother.  “Tetsurô… I’m sorry.  I wish there were some other way, but this is the only path left for us.
     “Listen, aniki… try not to get yourself killed too, all right? Someone needs to live…to tell the world what really happened here.” She smiled a brave little smile.  “You always did want to write something more serious than dôjinshi…”
     “Oh, man… sis…”  Tetsurô gathered Mizuki and Shô up in a rough hug. “I promise… I’ll make sure everyone knows.  I’ll make sure no one ever forgets you…
     “And, Shô…” He locked eyes with his best friend.  “Wherever you go, whatever happens… after… Take care of her.”
     Shô just nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
     “All right, then.  Agito… Agito?”
     Agito Makishima was still sitting at the conference table, staring at nothing in particular, stiff and silent…a solitary tear slowly working its way down his cheek.
     “What the heck happened to him?” Mizuki asked.
     “Tch.”  Tetsurô shook his head.  “Jeez, he picked a great time to have the revelation of his life…  Look, you two go on ahead.  Shizu and I’ll handle zombie-boy here.”  He gently pushed them toward the doors.

     There was no more time.  The next few minutes passed by in a blur: the professor showing Mizuki the beam rifle’s firing mechanism, hiding the super-weapon in a duffelbag, Agito and Tetsurô showing up at the last moment, one final lingering kiss… and then, the showdown.

     —looking off to the right, to where the beam rifle had been fired, straining for one last glimpse of—
     Mizuki, right arm and much of her torso vaporized, clothes, flesh, and bone alike burning—
     —somehow, still alive, screaming in agony with the one lung left her, falling back against the hull of the dying Iseki

     Mizuki was dead.
     Mizuki was dead, and he was still alive, brought back against all odds and against his own desires by that damned, monstrous machine in his head—!
     No.  There had to be more to it.  The medallion shouldn’t have been able to survive the firestorm, there must have been some outside agency— he’d been lying on some kind of cushion…
     Shô whirled, megasmashers charging, ready to annihilate whatever force had had the temerity to resurrect him—
     —and froze, struck stone-still by what he saw.
     It was around fifteen feet long, an elaborate shell of bio-booster chitin lined with soft tissue, open like a flower to show spaces for three occupants. On the left, a depression where he must have lain, conforming exactly to the design of Guyver I.  In the middle, nine feet tall and the color of old ivory, an incredible figure that could only be the hyper-booster armor—the Guyver Gigantic, empty and waiting for a pilot.  And on the right—
     —on the right, there was another Guyver.  Not Agito, not Lisker, its armor a deep purple…and its contours unmistakably female.
     It couldn’t be real.  Absolutely, categorically impossible… and yet hope, so recently dead and dust, rose like a phœnix in Shô’s battered soul.
     Its optics—her optics—were dark, but the control medallion’s crystal ring shone, pulsing like a heartbeat.  The host still slept, but the Guyver was awake and monitoring its surroundings.  If he made one move it interpreted as a hostile act…well, better not to go there.
     Trembling, afraid to believe his armor’s senses but desperately needing to, Shô awakened the telepathic transceivers on his back and sent a gentle mindcall to the sleeping figure.
     Shifting, half-formed thoughts slowly responded to his touch.  :Mmm… Shô…?  ’Zat you?:
     —oh, gods, it was really her
     :So tired…wha’s happ—:  Mizuki’s mindvoice switched gears, from half-asleep to sheer terror.  :The fire—my arm—!: “Shô!”  She snapped upright in the cocoon, optics flaring to life, as Shô rushed to take her in his arms.
     “Mizuki, it’s all right!” he said, in what he hoped was a firm-yet-reassuring manner.  “You’re healed now, we’re both fine, there’s nothing to worry about—”  As gently as possible, he lifted Mizuki out of the cocoon and helped her stand.
     “Healed…?” she echoed, not quite believing.  “Shô, we were…we were dead… is this Heaven, or—?”
     “None of the above,” the young warrior replied, heart suddenly lighter than a feather.  “I think… it was the Iseki, it must have been.  I was still mindlinked with it, right up to the last moment…it must have used the last of its power to protect me.  And it saw you in my thoughts, knew how…how I feel about you…and saved you, too, the only way it could.”  Shô held her firmly, hoping his next little surprise wouldn’t shock her too much. “Mizuki-chan…you’re a Guyver.”
     She stiffened for a moment—but no more.  Slowly, Mizuki raised a hand to her eyes, flexing her fingers, studying the bio-booster shell in what Shô belatedly realized was neither fear nor revulsion…but wonder.
     “…Purple?” she finally queried.
     “It looks good on you, really,” Shô hastened to assure her.  “Almost like someone polished and waxed it, not all rough like this one…”  He broke off as Mizuki tapped a finger to his sonic busters in what would have been a “shushing” gesture had his mouth been exposed.
     “Shô, it’s all right.  Really,” she said softly.  “I’m not going to break down, or panic, or anything like that… after all we’ve been through, it’d take a lot more than waking up in a symbiotic battlesuit to spook me.  I guess this makes me Guyver IV, right?
     “But…”  She looked around, taking in the ruins about them for the first time.  “Shô, what happened here?  It looks like this place has been deserted for… for years…”
     “Well, that’s the bad news,” Shô sighed, gesturing toward the cocoon. “I guess the Iseki decided to keep us on ice until its little present there was finished growing.”
     “That’s…a hyper-booster?  But you said it could take…”
     “Years, maybe a decade or two,” he confirmed grimly.  “We’ve been down here a long time.”
     While Mizuki digested that, Shô sent an experimental psi-command to the cocoon.  Obediently, it slid shut and vanished into whatever pocket dimension bio-booster organisms called home, taking the Gigantic with it.  One less thing to worry about.
     “We really did it, didn’t we?”
     Mizuki’s tone caught Shô by surprise again.  “Eh…?  You mean the Zoalords.”
     “Yeah.  They’re gone, all of them… And if enough time’s gone by for all this to happen…”
     “…then it’s over,” Shô finished, the implications finally settling in. “Agito lived, I’m almost sure of it… and with nothing but regular Zoanoids to fight, there’s no way Kronos could have stood up to him.
     “It’s over.”  The words sounded like something in an alien tongue, a concept he could barely grasp after so many weeks of war; but moment by moment, like sunrise on a clear morning, the new reality was illuminating his weary soul.  “It’s over.  Mizuki-chan… we’re free.”  Whooping, he lifted her up and spun about in sheer exultation, their laughter filling the cave. “We’re free!
     As Shô set her down, Mizuki pulled in close for a kiss… and fell back in frustration when chitin met sonic oscillators.  “Shô,” she asked in a sweet-yet-dangerous tone, “how exactly do we take these things off?
     “Well…”  Shô was very glad bio-armor didn’t blush.  “Now that I think about it, that might not be a good idea just yet.  For one thing, it’s got to be freezing cold down here, and the air’s probably gone stale.  And…” he trailed off.
     “Um… the Guyvers can regrow our bodies just fine—they’ll even keep your hair styled, don’t ask me how—but there’s not a lot they can do about clothes…”
     Now it was Mizuki’s turn for a hidden blush.  If anything they’d been wearing had survived that firestorm, she’d be amazed.  “Okay,” she managed, “one more reason for us to get out of here.
     “Shô…we’ve been trying to escape from Relics Point for so long now, even discounting however many years we were asleep…and every time we wound up heading back in…
     “Let’s end it, Shô…let’s leave Relics Point, leave Takeshiro… maybe even Japan…and never come back.  There are too many terrible memories here…”
     The blue Guyver nodded in agreement, looked up toward the dark shaft—then paused.  “Actually, there’s something we’d better get out of the way first.”
     “And that is?”
     “Guyver Operations 101,” Shô grinned (well, at least his voice grinned).  “Don’t worry, this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes…”

     That was in fact the case.  As Shô explained it, in times of crisis he’d often discovered the key to a new weapon or defense would simply appear in his mind—no doubt placed there by the control medallion.  When he’d started comparing notes with Agito, they’d found that merely being shown a new trick was enough to prompt the medallions’ guidance; now, as Shô demonstrated vibro-swords, gravity cannon, and infrared laser, Mizuki found herself with an intuitive grasp of their operation.  In a surprisingly short time, she was burning an arrow-pierced heart bearing the legend MS+SF into the cave wall for future archaeologists to puzzle over.
     “If we get into a fight,” Shô explained, “you’ll probably find yourself a lot better at it than you’d think—that’s the control medallion at work again.  There’s two things you need to keep in mind, though.
     “First: try not to worry too much about getting hurt—the Guyver can even regenerate lost limbs or organs, really quickly—but if…an arm or something does get cut off, make sure you retrieve it afterwards.”
     “You remember the monster that showed up at school—the one that looked like me?”
     Mizuki nodded.  “Yes…but I thought that was a Zoanoid…?”
     “Not hardly…it was a mindless, ‘rogue’ Guyver, that grew out of my arm after Enzyme chewed it off.”  Shô winced at the memory.  “When I caught up with it, the control medal absorbed the whole thing back into the armor…I don’t know what it might have done if it stayed loose.”
     “Aack.  Okay, and the second thing?”
     “Just this.”  He tapped her forehead gently.  “You can survive just about anything in the armor…but the control medallion is your life.  If it’s even slightly damaged, you’re in constant danger of losing control…and it doesn’t heal itself like the armor, and as far as I know there’s no one on Earth who could fix it.  Don’t ever let anything hit the medal, no matter what.”
     “…Got it.” She shivered slightly.
     “We’d better save the big guns—the sonic buster and mega-smashers— for a less enclosed area,” Shô concluded.  “Which just leaves one last lesson.  This one you’re gonna love…”
     “Oh, really?”
     “No question,” he said, taking her hand—and lifting off, as the gravitonic generator at his waist flared to life.  “Time to fly!”
     Mizuki gasped in delight as she in turn rose above the wreckage, flitting about as control came to her.  “Okay, you were right,” she laughed, doing a midair pirouette.  “This is fantastic!  Just think about where you want to go, and it happens…”
     “So let’s think about leaving.”
     The two Guyvers ascended into darkness.

     Relics Point was in ruins.
     As Shô and Mizuki made their way upward, it became very clear that someone else had come this way before—someone who’d been determined to leave no trace of Kôrin-sha biotechnology intact.  They found computer banks melted down, sliced apart, shattered, and/or riddled with the neat, slightly cauterized tunnels left by gravity bullets; filing cabinets were gutted, their contents charred to ash; and every last Zoanoid processing tank had been…processed.
     Agito must have been in a really bad mood.
     Some of that was wearing off on them.  The corridors of Relics Point were choked with dust; trickles of water ran down the walls and floors, rust and discoloration everywhere.  There was an overwhelming impression of age, and the unspoken question weighed heavier on them with each passing hour: how long had they slept?
     They’d left the main shaft, now thoroughly blocked with wreckage left over from Guyot’s foolhardy coup attempt, hours ago, and were—as far as they could tell from the occasional faded you-are-here mapboard—half a mile below the surface, past the R&D sectors and into a barracks area, when they found the warehouse.
     Shô’s best guess made it a storage depot for covert-operations gear.  The hard plastic crates were, for the most part, still intact and tightly sealed—and most of their contents proved untouched by time.  Military rations had long since spoiled, but the bio-boosters kept hunger at bay— if they could regenerate entire bodies from mere scraps of tissue, Shô mused, they could certainly keep their hosts fed.
     They unpacked and discarded all manner of surveillance equipment, not likely to be of any use to them; it was Mizuki who uncovered the real prize: the entire west side was devoted to camping gear and clothing.  A lantern, its batteries an unfamiliar design that miraculously still functioned, provided real light for the first time while they eagerly ransacked the crates for anything that might fit.
     Locating changing rooms near the entrance, Shô and Mizuki separated to try on their finds.  For the first time in gods only knew how long, Guyver I dispatched his armor into subspace and became merely Shô Fukamachi.
     The air was chill, but a slight breeze from the upper levels kept it reasonably fresh.  Shô studied himself in the fitting-room mirror; this was his third body, yet indistinguishable from the original.  As always, no trace remained of any of the terrible injuries he’d suffered since first bonding with the armor, but the few scars he’d picked up before that day were faithfully duplicated.
     And, however long they’d been asleep in the Basement…he hadn’t aged a day.  Now that was something to think about.
     Brushing thoughts of eternity aside for now, Shô dressed—jeans, sneakers, sweater heavy enough to banish the cold—and returned to the main chamber.
     Where an incredible sight awaited him.
     Somewhere in those crates, Mizuki had come up with an exact copy of her Narisawa High sailor fuku.  There in the lantern’s light, grey eyes shimmering like the moonlit ocean, that warm, loving smile… she was an island of normality in the midst of strangeness, and heartbreakingly beautiful.
     No, he decided, not heartbreaking.  Heart-healing.
     And then they were together.  No armor to intervene in their embrace, nothing but the warmth of two human hearts driving off the cold of Relics Point…

     With a soft buzz, the last boulder blocking their way fell into four pieces.  Fresh air washed over the two Guyvers as a star-filled sky was revealed at tunnel’s mouth.
     “I told you this was the way out,” Mizuki reminded Shô as they picked their way over the rubble.  The last route he’d picked turned out to lead nowhere but a long-dead power plant, too far below the surface for a safe exit; before that, they’d wound up in a laundry room.
     Now, at last, the Guyvers were on the surface: a small access tunnel emerged somewhere atop Mount Minakami, where a warm summer night waited for them.  Relaxing at last, they shed first backpacks and then bioarmor.
     After all this time and effort, heartbreak and reunion, Shô and Mizuki were free.
     They’d come out in a clearing, surrounded by the ancient forest that covered most of the artificial mountain.  Shô flopped to the ground, laughing softly, just looking up at the cloudless night sky; as Mizuki joined him, he switched their lantern off to improve the view, as they and Tetsurô had done on camping trips before the madness consumed their lives.
     Both lay there for some time, not speaking, just revelling in the moment; in the grassy blanket beneath them, the sounds of cicadas and nightbirds, and the jewel-studded sky above.
     After a while, Shô broke the silence.  “I thought we’d never see this again, love,” he murmured.  “But we really made it… beat the odds, beat the bad guys, saved the world, and lived to tell about it.”
     “It’s been so long, though… y’know, everybody probably thinks we’re dead.”
     “Eh, so we’ll surprise ’em.  Think Tetsurô’s made us famous yet?”
     “If I know my brother,” Mizuki laughed, “he’s got the whole world singing our praises by now.  We might have to get plastic surgery just to keep the press off…”
     “Let’s worry about that when it happens.  Right now, I just want to get some sleep.”  Shô began unfurling Kronos-issue sleeping bags.  “Man, what a night,” he continued.  “I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sky so clear before…”
     Abruptly, Mizuki scrambled to her feet.  “Shô… Shô, you’re right.  We haven’t.”  There was a sudden note of panic in her voice.
     “Eh?  Mizuki, they’re just stars…”
     “There are too many of them!”  The terror was rising, and it was beginning to creep into Shô—though he still had no idea what she was talking about.  He looked, and looked…
     …and then, all at once, he saw, and the vision was terrible to behold.
     Too many stars.
     Even on the darkest, moonless night, the lights of Takeshiro and surrounding towns should be drowning out all but the brightest.  With a growing sense of wrongness, he picked out the seventh star of the Pleiades, something they’d never managed.
     There was no distant, dull highway roar.
     And the air.  Fresh, clean, utterly devoid of any trace of pollutants. Cleaner than anything he’d breathed in his life!
     It was as if all traces of humanity had been swept away.
     “That’s north…” Mizuki was mumbling.  “So Takeshiro should be that way… Shô, we’ve got to find out what’s happened!”
     Hurriedly repacking the bedrolls, the two troubled youths made their way to the southeastern slope.  What they found was beyond any expectations.

     There was no trace of Takeshiro Village, none at all.  The valley floor was covered in old-growth forest as far as even the Guyvers’ eyes could see.
     There were, however, two sources of light.
     One, halfway across the valley, appeared to be an ordinary campfire.  The other…
     It was a wall of faint, rippling blue light, three hundred feet high, as if some kami with a strange sense of humor had stripped the surface off a river and set it on its side, flowing arrow-straight across the valley and over the horizon. The Guyvers’ sensors provided no explanation; there was nothing there but sourceless visible light, no sign of any instrumentality that could have produced it.
     “Years?  Decades?” Mizuki whispered, trembling.  “We must have been down there for… fifty years? A hundred…?
     “Oh gods, I know I said I wasn’t going to break down again, but I don’t know how much more of this I can take…”
     Shô wasn’t feeling much more stable himself, but he felt that at least a token effort should be made.  “Whatever’s happened, we can’t just stay up here forever.  We need to learn the truth… might as well start with whoever those people by the fire are.”  At this distance, his            sensors could just make out the presence of two humans and four horses.
     Mizuki brought herself back to reality with no small effort.  No sign of civilization, two people out in the middle of nowhere… Something in the corner of her armor’s “eye” caught her attention.  At the base of Mount Minakami, almost directly below them—
     “I don’t remember anything about a shrine on this face of the mountain…”
     Mizuki broke into a run without further comment, heading down the slope in great armor-assisted leaps.  Shô followed, his questioning mindcalls ignored, fearing that his true love had finally been driven over the edge.
     Reaching the valley floor, he caught sight of her—armorless now, in the courtyard of a dilapidated Shinto shrine, shivering in the warm night, her lantern trained on a group of statues.  As their forms sank into his badly-stressed mind, Shô shed his armor and joined Mizuki, holding her close in utter silence.
     There were three statues, thirty feet high and carved from white marble. They were weathered, chipped in places, streaked with the detritus of generations of perching birds… and still terrifyingly recognizable.
     Mizuki slipped her lantern’s beam down to a greened-bronze plaque on the heroically-posed group’s pedestal:

MASAKI MURAKAMI SHÔ FUKAMACHI MIZUKI SEGAWA May 10, 1950- March 25, 1968- December 9, 1968- May 8, 1985 May 8, 1985 May 8, 1985 NEVER FORGET THEIR SACRIFICE

     Standing before their own ancient memorial, the two could feel the terrible weight of years pressing in upon them, and the question Shô had asked himself on waking dominated their thoughts.

     How long had they been dead?


[CL: End-credits theme from  Fist of the North Star TV]

     So just what the heck is going on here, anyway?
     After all the nastiness that’s just been heaped on our heroes, they deserve a little good karma.  So Shô and Mizuki are about to meet the one person on Earth who can best help them understand and come to terms with their new world.  Join us whenever the hell I’m done for equal parts exposition, angst, affection and action as Stage One continues in…


     Beyond that…
     CS Guyver is a very ‘open’ series. That is to say, I have a definite ending worked out, but a lot of stories to tell along the way, and more may turn up in the process before we reach the final stage, “Mysteries of the Worm.”

     …I can’t believe that’s over.
     This first chapter of a hopefully epic saga has been in the works since 1996, possibly setting a new record for slowest fanfic writer (though I kinda doubt it).  Who knows, maybe ch. 2 will be finished before the next millennium…(i.e. 2001, so there’s still time…)
     Anyway: this is a crossover ’fic, primarily involving Yoshiki Takaya’s “Bio-Booster Armor Guyver” manga and Kevin Siembieda’s “Rifts” role-playing game.  Rather than arrange for Shô and company to visit Rifts Earth, I did a little history patching and arranged for one to be the past of the other…it was surprisingly easy.  Folks from a couple other worlds will be showing up around Chapter 5, but I’m not saying who just yet.
     For Guyver fans: this follows the manga version exclusively right up to volume 7 (the end of the Viz translation) but then takes a sharp turn into deep left field—my home turf. :)  Much of the info in this chapter, though, is derived from volumes 8-15 (I live less than forty miles away from a huge Japanese bookstore.  Jealous?  Good. ;) and from Star's Guyver Page.  In particular, note that I take English spelling from the manga datafiles and not from the horrible Viz Comics translation; hence Guyot instead of Gyro, Barcas for Valkus, etc.  (I don’t know for certain how to spell the #1 Zoalord’s name, so I went with the coolest variation on it I’ve found so far.)
     For Rifts fans: very little has actually changed, and most of it has to be kept secret for the moment.  Sorry guys… n.n;
     If you don’t know what a Guyver might be, or if you’ve only seen the horrible ghastly stupid American live-action movies, check out the above-mentioned Star’s page for a full infodump.
     If you’re a Guyver fan who has no idea what a Rift is, don’t worry, that stuff doesn’t show up ’til next chapter and there will be a full explanation on site.

     General notes:
     •Mizuki's armor is loosely based on Inspector Valcuria/Guyver II from the "Out of Control" animated movie.
     •What was a Narisawa High sailor fuku doing in Relics Point, you ask?  Remember the Mizuki-doppelgänger Zoanoid from manga chapter 12—Kronos obviously prepares for things like that.
     •Think of the BGM as mostly cribbed from the Guyver OAVs, the Fist of the North Star TV series, and Vampire Hunter D.  The OAV opening theme, though, will be replaced next episode by the regular SDWG opener.
     •The term “God Generals” is taken from the manga; the Zoalords are frequently referred to as the “Jûni-shin-shô”, the Twelve Divine Generals.  Likewise, Arkanfæl is called the ‘Super-Zoalord’ on several occasions.
     •Incidentally, there are kanji associated with both “Zoanoid” and “Zoalord”: “Jû-ka-hei” ‘beast-shifting-soldier’ and “Jû-ka-shô” ‘beast-shifting-general’ respectively.  The Zoalords’ transformation phrase, translated by Viz as “ZOAFORM TRANSFER!” for no readily understandable reason, is in fact “Jû-Shin-Hen!”, which literally translates into “Beast God Change!”. 

     More Japanese notes…
     •Kôrin-sha: “Advent-people”; specifically religious term (In Volume 14 we discover that the Advents refer to their collective consciousness as “Uranus”, which explains a lot.)
     •-shunin: supervisor
     •-go: language (Nihongo: Japanese, Eigo: English, etc. Kôrin-go: Adventese.)
     •Aniki: brother (informal); what Viz translates as “bro”
     •Iseki: ruin
     •dôjinshi: fanfiction (text or self-published manga; Japanese copyright laws and traditions are rather less strict than those on this side of the Pacific, and there's actually something of a market for this stuff)
     •chôjikû: superdimensional, hyperdimensional
     •Senshi: warrior (not necessarily in a sailor suit n.n;)
     •seppuku: ritual suicide (if you have to ask, you don’t want to know.)

     Well, that’s about it for this one.  Please send comments, flames, or what-have-you to 73310.3217@compuserve.com.  Be sure to include “To Sam” or similar in the subject, as it's a shared account.

       —Sam Ashley
          v2.0: 07/16/2000
      “Surf’s up, space ponies—I’M MAKIN’ GRAVY WITHOUT THE LUMPS!!!”

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