“Hey, if you keep running like that, you’re gonna fall!”
Yuuki was running at full speed with a carry-on bag trailing behind her, and Gentarou was following behind, also running at full speed. They were sprinting down the domestic terminal at Haneda Airport, screaming at the top of their lungs. The surrounding people were very obviously annoyed. Gentarou and Yuuki were both in their usual uniforms, so they stuck out like sore thumbs. Yuuki’s legs were caught and she tripped with a blunt impact, rolling over three times and attracting attention from everyone around her.
Her carry-on bag was rolling ahead of her.
“See, I told you. You okay?”
As Gentarou reached out to Yuuki and helped her get back on her feet, a boy was watching them from a distance. He wasn’t looking at them coldly like the others in the airport around them, but he wasn’t looking at them with curiosity, either. It was a strange, sticky look. Gentarou and Yuuki hadn’t caught sight of him.
“We’re in this situation because you took so much time picking souvenir gifts to buy. Why are we even bringing souvenir gifts anyway?”
“If you’re gonna visit someone, you gotta bring souvenir gifts. That’s just common sense.”
“Something stings about you, of all people, nagging me about common sense. And then of all things, you had to pick dove butter cookies1.”
“Dove butter cookies are great.”
“I know they are, but what if we miss the plane?”
“I’ll just use the Rocket Module to fly there, then. You can get on my back.”
“Gaaaah! That’s gonna hurt, and it’s also really dangerous! Can’t we just use Cosmic States to warp there?”
“We can’t warp somewhere unless one of us knows what it looks like. I wouldn’t have been able to go to the M-BUS if Ryuusei hadn’t been there. Do you know anything about where we’re going?”
“Nnnn, nope, I’ve never been there.”
“So the only choice left is the plane. Come on, let’s hurry.”
“But Gen, you’re the reason we’re running late!”
Behind them was their mysterious observer, wearing dark black sunglasses and following them slowly at a distance. He was thin, and neither tall nor short. He seemed to have a case of bed hair, and was standing there, doing nothing but observe Gentarou and Yuuki.
Gentarou and Yuuki lined up in the baggage inspection line.
“Hey, Gen. I’ve been feeling something near us for a while.”
“Who? An enemy?”
“No idea. But it’s like something’s watching us, and it’s kinda gross.”
“…Is it Icarus?”
Gentarou still remembered the scent of blood in the air he’d felt the day prior. Within that malicious atmosphere, the bloodstained girl had transformed and called herself Kamen Rider Icarus in front of everyone. Ultimately, while they hadn’t fought directly in combat, Gentarou’s unnervingly good intuition told him that Icarus was a ridiculously strong enemy. It was unlikely he’d stand a chance if he ever fought her again.
Hoping to figure out Icarus’s true identity, Gentarou and Yuuki had decided to head to a certain place. If Gentarou’s intuition was correct, the bloodstained high school girl was someone Gentarou knew. But on the other hand, that shouldn’t be possible, because the person Gentarou had identified as the bloodstained high school girl was not, in fact, a girl in high school. Yuuki had insisted “let’s go see her anyway,” so they’d taken the risk of skipping school on the day before graduation, leading to where they were now.
“Don’t think it’s Icarus,” said Yuuki, shaking her head. “…I don’t know how to put it, but it feels more…obscene. Kinda sticky and lewd.”
Gentarou relaxed a little.
“It’s because you just fell and your skirt went up, isn’t it?”
“Hey, Gen! I’m serious here.”
Gentarou laughed and went through the gate, and a beep went off.
“If you’re wearing anything with metal in it, such as a belt, please place it in here,” said the airport staff member on duty.
Clang! In front of the staff member, a boy with a pompadour had taken out a suspicious object with Switches on it. Her face immediately stiffened.
“…Sir, what is this?”
The shady person, Gentarou, answered with a refreshing smile on his face.
“It’s the Fourze Driver!”
Of course, the average person had no idea what that was, so it only made him look even more suspicious. The staff member was even more on alert.
“What kind of switches are these supposed to be?”
“This is the Rocket Switch. This one’s Launcher. This one’s Drill.”
The conversation was attracting a fair amount of rabble.
“Dear me, that’s rather suspicious…”
Other staff members and guards were gathering around them, and Yuuki, who was watching behind him, quickly came to back him up.
Behind them, a boy was watching the entire situation behind his sunglasses, observing them closely with a sticky gaze. A Zodiarts Switch was in his hand, which was sweating and quivering.
“Can we not…bring Switches on board…?”
Considering that the third-years were about to graduate from New Amanogawa Academy High the next day, things were surprisingly quiet.
Yukina and the other members of the prom committee were in the middle of their final crunch, but all of the other ordinary students were going through yet another normal day without incident. There was no sense of tension whatsoever.
Even the one place where everyone present should have been nervous, the Space Kamen Rider Club room, was devoid of tension. Two alumni, a pair of university students, had arrived. they were Miu Kazashiro, a beautiful woman with top-class style, and Shun Daimonji, a handsome guy making sparkling, flirtatious poses.
“Man, when the former Queen and King are here, the club room feels so much more dazzling. It’s like we’re back at the Rabbit Hatch.”
“Can you sense that from my natural star power? Of course you do! Hahahahahahahaha!”
Shun laughed so hard that he doubled over and collapsed.
“A-Are you okay?” said Haru, running up in concern.
“An evil Kamen Rider, huh? That doesn’t sound good,” muttered Miu, in her very chairman-like manner.
“It’ll be fine. I’ll be sure to protect you, Miu.”
“That’s not the problem, Shun. Don’t be silly.”
Nowadays, Miu was working as a fashion model, and Shun was busy with American football club activities. Both of them were aiming for those as future long-term careers, so they were working harder at those than their actual studies. Now that the Horoscopes had been dissolved, they rarely showed up to Rider Club meetings.
Tomoko was glaring at them with icy-cold eyes.
“Who called them over here? My goodness,” she muttered, cursing in a whisper.
Miu sat down on a chair, crossed her legs, and pointed at Tomoko. Whoosh!
“New president! I, the chairman, would like to know about this situation in detail, so explain.”
Shun smiled with his bright and shiny white teeth.
“Please, do explain.”
Tomoko wasn’t enjoying this at all. She was upset at Shun for being an idiot, and at Miu, for acting like she was still the chairman of the club despite having graduated. In her opinion, she wasn’t nearly as fit to be president as even the prior one, Yuuki. It was just warts on top of more warts. Ran and Haru, catching onto Tomoko’s feelings of frustration, were shrinking back in fear. Kengo was the only one distracted from the situation, quietly analyzing something with the Astro Switch Case.
“Um, I think I can explain the situation neatly,” said Haru, raising his hand. He proceeded with a detailed summary of the recent Zodiarts incidents.
“Hmm, so this is about the prom…”
Miu could still remember the night she’d danced with Gentarou for prom. A smile instantly spread on her face. It was a good smile. Even though it should have been a bitter memory for Shun, he, too, was also smiling brightly.
“That was like a personal trial for me. I feel like I overcame that trial and was able to leave this nest known as high school.”
Shun struck his usual pose, trying to be cool.
Yeah, well, sorry, Granny and Gramps, but we need to get to the point. Tomoko couldn’t say it out loud, but her feelings were obvious from her expression.
Paying absolutely no mind to that, Miu turned to Haru.
“Oh? By the way, where are Gentarou and Yuuki?”
“They went to figure out who the mysterious Kamen Rider actually is. I think they should be on the plane around now.”
“They went on a plane? They’re going that far away? By themselves?”
Miu took a moment to ponder on it.
“I’m smelling romance.”
She grinned, brimming with confidence. Kengo’s hands froze in place over the keyboard.
Ran, who was still hoping to be Gentarou’s dance partner, immediately started speaking frantically.
“You think Gentarou and Yuuki have that kind of relationship? No way. They’re childhood friends, aren’t they? They’re way past the point of seeing each other that way.”
“Tch, tch, tch.” Miu clicked her tongue, as if to say, oh, if only you knew. “When you’re right before a prom, all the boys and girls start having wavering feelings.”
Shun was nodding, as if to say, oh, I know, right?
“It was the same for Miu. She was having a fit of passion.”
“Are you sure it was me in the fit of passion? Don’t say weird stuff like that.”
She struck Shun with a body blow.
“But it’s true, they really start to waver. Sometimes you look back at who had the most influence on you in high school, and you start noticing your own feelings. I’m sure that’ll be the case for Gentarou and Yuuki, too.”
Haru snuck a glance at Kengo from the side, and saw that he was still working on his analysis and typing on the keyboard. At first, he was relieved that Kengo didn’t seem to mind what the chairman was saying, but then he looked closer. He looks like he’s typing, but his fingers have gone off the keyboard! Kengo, are you okay…? Haru was starting to worry.
A jumbo jet flew through the blue sky, passing through white clouds.
Sitting in a plane seat, Gentarou picked up the Fourze Driver.
“Did they think this was a bomb or something?” he said, looking at it with a puzzled expression.
“I’m sure they did. They were in a whole panic.”
In the seat next to him, Yuuki looked exhausted, as if she’d pulled an all-nighter to study for an exam.
The airport staff had thought the Driver to be a dangerous object, but Yuuki had intervened and insisted that it was a “game prototype being produced for an industrial manufacturing class”.
“See, I’ll show you how it works. Here, here, and here!”
She made up a fictional backstory and toyed with the switches and levers. Yuuki’s cute actions made the airport staff members laugh. The tension and alertness instantly cleared up. It was at least apparent that it didn’t seem to be dangerous, so they managed to bring it in. “My goodness,” Yuuki had said, breathing heavily.
“I mean, it’s true, it’s not a bomb and it’s not dangerous, so we should be allowed to bring it in.”
Gentarou was truly impressed with Yuuki.
Yuuki had thought quickly and figured out how to deal with the crisis right on the spot. If Gentarou had been by himself, he’d have taken too long to resolve the misunderstanding and missed the plane. The ability to deal with problems on the fly was a very necessary one for an astronaut. If something happened in space, there would be no police or ambulance to help them. The members of the control room could help to some extent, but ultimately, the crew would have to solve the problem by themselves. Gentarou had seen it in the movie Apollo 13.
“Yuuki, you’ll make a great astronaut.”
Gentarou’s words were full of honest respect.
Yuuki’s cheeks were red with pride.
“Huh, you think so? Thanks.”
Gentarou suddenly remembered the question Nadeshiko Misaki had asked him. “Which girl had the most influence on your time in high school?” She was his childhood friend, but if Gentarou had to pick a girl who’d had the most influence on him ever since he’d transferred to Ama High, it’d be Yuuki Joujima, right? Yuuki was the one who’d taught him how to transform into Fourze.
Nadeshiko also said the person I dance with at the prom might be the person who decides my future. Should I dance with Yuuki at the prom? We’ve known each other for so long, I’ve never seen her in that way, but it feels surprisingly natural!
Gentarou was feeling strangely on edge as he glanced at her. Yuuki was looking at the sea of clouds outside the window. Her expression was so dazzling that he suddenly felt something grabbing his heart for the first time.
W-Was my heroine so close to me this entire time!?
But a moment later, Gentarou remembered Kengo’s face.
…What about Kengo?
I know how he feels about Yuuki. I know it painfully well. Wouldn’t I be betraying him? Would I be able to graduate with a smile on my face knowing that I’d trampled on my own friend’s feelings and caused him pain? There’s no way I could do that.
“What’s wrong, Gen? Are you scared of the plane?”
Yuuki was suddenly looking back at him. Now that he was actually paying attention, even casual gestures like these looked very cute.
“I’m in serious trouble.”
Am I in a love triangle now? I think I might be in a worse problem than anything to do with the Zodiarts. Oh, whatever! Let’s not think about weird things like that until we’re done with our investigation! Hoping to divert his mood, Gentarou let out an enthusiastic shout.
“Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh, let’s goooooo!”
He clenched his fist. But Yuuki’s eyes widened in surprise, the other passengers around them were also surprised, the cabin attendant spilled the coffee she was serving, and now everyone was glaring at Gentarou.
While Gentarou was romantically confused in the exact way Miu had predicted, the Rider Club had finally convened for a strategy meeting.
According to JK’s report, Ryouko, Sumie, and Hozumi were all absent from school. Now that graduation would be happening the next day, Ama High was calming down. Was this the so-called “calm before the storm”?
“Do you think they might be hiding together somewhere?”
Tomoko’s intuition caught onto something in Haru’s honest suggestion.
Tomoko looked down and started thinking.
“What’s wrong, Nozama? Is something bothering you?” said Kengo, seeing that Tomoko’s sixth sense might have caught onto something.
“Icarus said they had only one companion left to recruit, and that they’d already given them a Switch.”
“Ah, yeah, she did say that. One left, right? So what does it mean?”
Tomoko looked up.
“Their plan calls for Icarus plus a total of four Zodiarts,” she muttered.
“So then who’s the last one?” said Ran, speaking up. “Do you think they’ve joined the other three by now?”
“I don’t know.”
Tomoko and Kengo had nothing to say, and the club room was silent for a moment.
Shun started speaking up, like a foreigner who couldn’t read the room.
“What if they’re all actually just at home?”
The school’s former King had a very simple-minded way of thinking, although it also wouldn’t be wrong to say that he never really thought about anything at all.
“Why don’t we try visiting their homes?”
“Yeah. It’s not like we have anything else we can do, so let’s just do what we can,” said Miu.
Tomoko’s intuition told her that this wouldn’t get them anywhere. But it was true; there was nothing else they could do, so the only choice was to follow it. Ultimately, they decided to look up their addresses and go visit them in person.
“All right, we’ll split up into groups,” said Miu, writing names on the board and splitting them.
“JK, go call up Ryuusei. We’re dealing with Zodiarts here, so we’ll be in danger if we don’t have someone like Meteor with us.”
Tomoko glared at Miu, who was giving firm instructions to everyone. Ugh, she’s like an obnoxious mother-in-law, talking over me, the active president! How much is she gonna keep interfering until she’s satisfied?
Perhaps it was mental bias, but the sun felt like it had much stronger of a presence in the countryside than it did in the Tokyo suburbs. It was bright and yellow, and dazzling. It was hot, to the point it felt uncomfortable. It was still March, but it felt like midsummer.
As the sun beat down on them, Gentarou and Yuuki got off the small propeller plane they’d boarded for their connecting flight, and stood in front of a small airport.
“We’re here, Yuuki. We’re gonna do what we talked about earlier, right?”
Both of them held their arms in.
“Here comes Tanegashima!”
They raised both hands and stretched out. It was their double “here comes…!” pose.
They were, indeed, on the island of Tanegashima. It was an island south of Kagoshima, known as the place where guns were introduced to Japan. It also was known for having a space center, where rockets were launched.
They stood side by side, as if posing for a military poster, and stared at the distant view in awe.
“So this is where we learn about Icarus’s true identity…” muttered Yuuki.
“…or so we hope. Maybe,” said Gentarou, with a serious face.
Yuuki turned around, irritated.
“Come on, Gen. We came all this way, you shouldn’t be thinking like ‘or so we hope, maybe.’ You know how much we spent on transportation costs? Everyone in the Rider Club had to pool together money for this.”
“I know, but still. I dunno. Youth means making mistakes sometimes.”
“‘Youth’ doesn’t matter here.”
“Aren’t you the one who said we should come?”
Neither of them had noticed the sleepy boy in sunglasses tailing them all the way from Haneda Airport. He’d followed them to the small island airport there and stared at them, squinting at them in the harsh sunlight.
A single minivan came to a stop. It had arrived at a viewing spot in the mountains, where one could find vivid contrast between the blue of the sky and the green of the trees.
A family made their way down. A young boy in the earlier grades of elementary school and a girl in kindergarten walked together towards the information board, comparing the pictures on it and the actual scenery.
“Whoa, this is great. This is really cool.”
“Really? It’s really far away, and tiny.”
The older brother and younger sister seemed to have very differing levels of interest. Their parents approached from right behind them, and the older brother turned to them.
“Hey, Daddy, Mommy, they’re about to launch a rocket over there, right?”
The viewing spot was overlooking the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center, considered to be one of the most beautiful rocket launch sites in the world.
The father arrived with a guidebook in one hand, and it was obvious he wasn’t a local.
“Yep. Yep, it is. Man, it’s gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s like we’re finally at the front door to the universe.”
“The front door to the universe? When’d you become such a poet? Haha. Boys like this kind of thing, don’t they?” said the mother, holding her daughter tightly. The daughter seemed to be a little board.
It was like the textbook image of a happy family.
“Hey, why don’t we take a picture together?”
The boy jumped around in excitement, so the father took out a digital camera from his pocket. Suddenly, he caught sight of a woman standing alone at a nearby railing. She seemed to be staring at the space center in the distance. She was a very photogenic young lady.
“All right, we’ll have that lady take our picture”
“Oh, Daddy, you just want an excuse to talk to a young girl, don’t you?”
“Hurry up and take it.”
The children were already posing. In a good mood, the father approached the woman there.
“Excuse me, can you take our picture for us?”
The woman replied immediately without looking back at him.
It was obvious there was no way to proceed with the conversation further, not when she’d responded with such a strong and cold stab. One could almost hear the sound of the air freezing around them.
The atmosphere was horribly uncomfortable, and the family quickly got into the minivan and left.
The woman looked back at the rocket launch facility in the distance, as if she had nothing better to do.
The front door to the universe? What a mockery. How annoying.
She was being called out to again.
So damn persistent. I should hunt them all down.
Consumed by an uncontrollable, ferocious rage, the woman turned around, and her eyes widened in shock. Instead of the family from earlier, she was being greeted by two high school students.
“Oh, it really is you! We visited your parents’ house, and your mom said you’d probably be here.”
Yuuki had a huge smile of relief on her face.
“We found you, Sono. Here, we brought you souvenirs.”
Gentarou held out a bag of dove butter cookies.
The beautiful woman there was none other than Sarina Sonoda, their former teacher at Ama High.
It had all started the day before, right after Icarus had departed.
Most of the Rider Club members were still overcome with shock, but Gentarou had caught onto something.
“That girl who turned into Icarus…That was Sono, wasn’t it?”
Everyone stared back at him, dumbfounded.
“So you’re saying Sono was cosplaying as a high school girl?” said JK, teasing with a half-smile.
“No, no, no.” Everyone immediately rejected that suggestion on the spot.
But even as he was teasing, JK could feel a chill running through his spine.
Gentarou was exactly right.
It was too tempting to think it couldn’t possibly be the case, but they had, indeed, looked similar. Or rather, it would be better to say “she had Miss Sonoda’s face”.
Yuuki, Kengo, and Tomoko had all come to the realization in succession, saying “now that you mention it…!” in shock.
According to all of the rumors, after returning from the M-BUS, Sonoda had gone back to live with her parents, but had she secretly returned to Ama High to hatch a terrifying revenge plan?
After deciding “well, let’s just go see Sono for now,” they returned to school and looked up where her parents lived. They were in Kagoshima Prefecture, and, in all places, Tanegashima.
“Tanegashimaaaaaaa!? You mean the same Tanegashima where the JAXA Space Center is?”
Yuuki suddenly started getting very insistent about wanting to go. After some back-and-forth with the others warning her “this isn’t sightseeing, you know,” it was eventually decided that Gentarou would accompany her.
However, there was one person who was deeply frustrated about the events of the prior night: JK.
Gentarou had many excellent traits that JK did not. He was good at fighting, and was tall. He was straightforward and to-the-point, and he could make friends with anyone and everyone. More importantly, Gentarou had “the ability to see things through to the essence”. That was what frustrated him the most. The bloodstained girl obviously had Miss Sonoda’s face, and yet JK had failed to notice. “Insight” was the one thing JK could not allow anyone to surpass him in. He ate gossip for dinner and was hoping to become a reportage writer in the future. I live to deal in any and all information. In order to get that information, I need insight. I don’t mind if people are better than me at anything else, but this is the one thing I have to be the best at. Even better than Gentarou.
As he berated himself for needing to do better, JK arrived at Ryouko Sakamoto’s residence with Ran and Haru.
The punk girl wasn’t home. It seemed she hadn’t returned since the prior night.
“Well, she does that a lot. She’ll stay out, and she won’t let us know where she is.”
Her mother had the same imposing aura her daughter did, and responded as if she didn’t have a care in the world. She was dressed in bold, flashy colors, and it seemed she probably had been a delinquent when she was younger. She had a very tough attitude, but JK could tell that she seemed to actually be very worried about her daughter. A daughter with a split tongue who had gone off the rails, and a mother who actually was quite a proper person. That was what JK’s insight told him.
Further discussion revealed that Ryouko rarely brought any school friends home with her, and so her mother was relieved that she had “friends” like JK and the others who cared enough to ask about her.
“Ryouko got all of those piercings, and I was worried she’d scare everyone at school, but she must be doing much better than I’d thought if you guys are worried about her.”
“No, we’re not exactly her friends, we don’t really have that kind of relationship with her — “
JK quickly stepped in before Ran said too much.
Maybe it’s because her growth went to her chest instead of anywhere else, but she really doesn’t get all of life’s little subtleties, does she?
The site had a view of the waves on the white sandy beach. A full-scale model of the fifty-meter H-II rocket lay on the green grass. There was another model of the same H-II rocket back at the Tsukaba Space Center, and Yuuki always stopped by it on her way home from Ama High, but she’d always wanted to see the one in Tanegashima. On top of that, it was amazing to be out in the middle of nature. For a space nerd like Yuuki, it was like a dream. Yuuki picked up her hand puppet and started playing with it.
“Look, Mr. Hayabusa! It’s huge, isn’t it? We’ve always wanted to come to Tanegashima, haven’t we?”
“Hey, Yuuki, we didn’t come here to play around,” said Gentarou, with a big smile on his face.
“Yeah, but you’re here playing with me too, Gen. Ahaha. — Ah!”
Yuuki, who had been posing next to a statue of an astronaut, lost her balance and fell over.
Gentarou rushed over and caught her. Was it because he’d started consciously thinking about dancing with her at the prom on the plane? He was surprised at how soft Yuuki was, and he could feel a shock going through him. He found himself staring right at Yuuki with a serious face. But, perhaps feeling something strange from Gentarou, Yuuki’s smile started wavering a little, and their eyes met.
No, no, I’m in serious trouble, thought Gentarou. Now that he was actually paying attention, Yuuki really did look cute. He was starting to want to dance with her now. But if he did invite her to the prom, his friendship with Kengo might as well be over. What should I do?
Yuuki was also starting to feel a little strange.
Gen’s been looking at me kinda weird for a while. Kinda…macho. Wait, did he fall in love with me? No way. Did he suddenly fall in love with me after we came all the way over here? Huh? What am I gonna do? Kengo and I were gonna dance at the prom together, does that mean that’s out of the picture for real now? Wait, wait, it’s not like he’s even asked me to dance with him in the first place. I need to calm down.
Both of them were interrupted by the sound of a clearing throat. Sonoda was standing there with her arms folded.
“Is this your so-called ‘youth’? Did you come all the way here to show me your flirting?”
“No, we’re here to talk to you.”
“You could have talked to me back at the observatory earlier.”
“No, we wanted to talk to you at this space center while we’re here.”
“What do you mean, ‘while we’re here’? What are you even here to do?”
Sonoda’s blood was boiling at Yuuki and Gentarou’s embarrassed smiles.
These kids were always like this. Always throwing me off. Everything had been going without a hitch, I’d been reading tons of students’ “fate of the stars” and handing out Switches, and making more and more Zodiarts. I couldn’t identify all of the potential Horoscopes, but it’s not like I failed at it, either. I just didn’t have enough time. If it only hadn’t been for these kids…especially Gentarou Kisaragi. This boy here is my natural enemy. His ridiculous behavior keeps counteracting my poison.
Sonoda took a deep breath. The air in her hometown helped her calm down, and she was able to regain her composure. Yes. I’m at home. My stinger is the strongest when I’m here. I’m the Scorpion, after all.
“Sono, are you Kamen Rider Icarus?” asked Gentarou. The question was sudden.
“What’s that?” said Sonoda, irritated. Gentarou had thrown her off yet again.
“So you’re not?”
“…I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Yuuki took out a long, thin piece of paper.
“We visited your parents’ house earlier, and your mom showed us this.”
The words were written in childish handwriting.
“I want to be an astronaut —Sarina Sonoda“
Sonoda was speechless. The strip of paper was a one-way ticket back to her childhood.
“We’re also really curious about this part,” said Gentarou, pointing to what was written under it.
“My rocket will be named ‘Icarus’“
“Icarus…” muttered Sonoda.
“I was really surprised. You were like me, weren’t you? You wanted to be an astronaut,” said Yuuki.
Sonoda muttered another sentence in response.
“…Yes, you’re right.”
She nodded slowly, and began to tell her story.
Sarina Sonoda’s parents ran the “Sonoda Inn”, a small accommodation facility right next to a wild mangrove forest. It was a rather simple inn that wasn’t very busy, and its main patrons were people who came for marine sports, like surfing. Sarina had been known as the local island beauty ever since she was a child, and the guests also adored her. They would play with her in the ocean, and she became obsessed with surfing at a young age. She was the idol of the shore, a tanned Little Mermaid.
The inn didn’t usually have many guests, but every so often, it would be packed — around the time of a rocket launch. Whenever a rocket launch was announced, space enthusiasts would flock there, and all of the accommodation facilities on the small island, including the Sonoda Inn, would fill up in short time.
At first, Sarina wasn’t very fond of the nerds who filled up the inn. They weren’t like surfers at all; they were unfashionable and dirty, and they didn’t even bother swimming, despite having come all the way to the ocean. All they did was drink alcohol and rave about space and space exploration. Sarina would usually pretend to not care about the weird space patrons. But one day, a kind-looking space nerd gave her a book. Sarina had initially thought “I don’t need this,” but the book ended up changing the course of her destiny. The book was The Call of the Faraway Galaxy, by the astronaut Mitsuaki Gamou. She started casually flipping through the pages, and before she knew it, she was completely absorbed in it.
“Space is amazing!”
It was like a crushing impact had hit her, completely smashing out her past self.
She ate up everything in the book. Eventually, she could even recite it from memory. Sarina learned many things from Gamou through the book — about the universe, about humanity, and about how to live one’s life. Of course, she started participating in conversations about space exploration with the space enthusiasts who came to the inn. While she didn’t quit marine sports, her passion for it diminished. It was more fun to spend time observing celestial bodies with her childhood friend from next door, or to bicycle down to the Space Center. She was no longer a girl aspiring to be a professional surfer, but a girl aspiring to be an astronaut.
“When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut“
She wrote that same sentence on her Tanabata strip every year.
Sonoda had talked for quite a while when Gentarou stopped her.
“W-Wait, wait a second. Hey, Sono, that part about how you weren’t sure what you wanted to do when you grew up, I’m really interested in that part…”
They were on the brink of a life-threatening struggle against the Zodiarts, and yet here he was, talking about careers, as if he didn’t have anything else he needed to worry about.
“If you wanted to be an astronaut, why’d you end up becoming a teacher?”
Gentarou had no understanding of the concept of people not always getting the job they wanted, so his question was blunt. It was an innocent question, but rather tactless.
“Gen, we’re here to talk about Icarus. We’re not here for career counseling.”
“But it’s related to her story, isn’t it?”
The two had started squabbling again, ignoring Sonoda. Realizing the irony of what she was about to do, Sonoda scoffed a little at herself and clapped her hands to get their attention, just as a teacher would.
“All right. Well, let’s have a cup of coffee first, and then we’ll have a little career counseling chat.”
They’re stringing me along. I know they are, but I’ll go along with it. We’ll call it my last show of “playing the role of a teacher”.
And so, they began their career counseling session under the blue sky.
The sea breeze lightly stroked the lush grass. Sitting cross-legged on the grass, Gentarou tossed a dove butter cookie into his mouth.
“Man, dove butter cookies are the best.”
“Gen, did you just buy those because you wanted to eat it yourself?” said Yuuki, who was also stuffing her face.
On the other hand, Sonoda, who was supposed to be the recipient, did not touch the butter cookies. She quietly sipped from a paper cup full of hot coffee.
She’d intended to get it black, but she’d accidentally pressed the button for sugar and milk. She had been completely thrown off in every way.
“So, Kisaragi, what do you want to do?”
“No clue. Dunno how I’d even decide.”
“Then, why don’t you try going to university? You might figure out what you want to do in four years.”
“I guess, but…”
Sonoda stared at Gentarou, observing the concern on his face. Perhaps Gentarou Kisaragi has never been through any kind of experience that could truly break him. No, wait, he’s Fourze. He’s had all kinds of experiences an average high school student couldn’t even imagine. He’s even managed to get himself out of hopeless situations. So despite going through all of those extraordinary experiences, has he never had one that truly broke him?
Sonoda took another sip of her overly sweet coffee.
“Sono, your dream was to be an astronaut, right? Just like Yuuki.”
Her eyes unfocused for a moment, as if looking into the distance. She turned back to face Yuuki.
“You’re heading towards your dream right now, right, Joujima?”
“Yes. I’ve decided to go to a university in America,” said Yuuki, with determined eyes.
This girl is dazzling. Sonoda was jealous.
“But this is my first time hearing about Miss Sonoda also wanting to go to space.”
“Hey, can you stop with the ‘Miss’? I’m not your teacher anymore.”
“You mean, because you were a Zodiarts? But you’re still our teacher.”
“I never intended to be your teacher from the very beginning.”
“What do you mean by that?” blurted Gentarou.
Instead of answering the question directly, Sonoda began another story.
“After a certain unfortunate accident, my dream started changing in direction.”
“Yes. Instead of becoming an astronaut, I wanted to become that.”
Sonoda pointed up at the sky. Her long, thin finger was pointed straight at — the sun.
Gentarou didn’t seem to understand, but Yuuki, who had also been an avid reader of The Call of the Faraway Galaxy, immediately understood the metaphor.
“You mean Headmaster Gamou, right?”
“Master Gamou was the sun. I was a satellite orbiting around him. Even before I became a Horoscope, that was how it was. That was the fate of my stars. So when I turned sixteen, I left this island and enrolled in the school Headmaster Gamou built, Amanogawa Academy High School.”
Sonoda had held blind faith in Gamou before she’d even met him. Gentarou shivered at how deep-seated her faith had been.
Ever since its founding, many Ama High students, regardless of gender, had been fans of Gamou from his time as an astronaut. Sarina Sonoda was one of them. Eight years prior, Sarina, wearing the school’s blue uniform, entered Ama High for the first time.
Of course, enrollment in the school didn’t necessarily guarantee an opportunity to meet the headmaster. But, naturally, anyone who thought “I want to be like Mr. Gamou” would want to meet him. Sooner or later, they would end up at the headmaster’s office. Most of the time, they would be sent back by his intimidating-looking private secretary, Kou Tatsugami. At the same time, their names would be added to a list, under the line of thinking “Gamou’s followers have the potential to become Zodiarts.” A teacher named Hayami Kouhei would hand out Switches to the students on the list.
Hayami, the Libra Zodiarts, gave a Switch to Sarina, who transformed into the Canis Minor Zodiarts. Thus, the “fate of her stars” was Canis Minor. Was it because she felt herself to be Gamou’s loyal dog?
As Canis Minor, she was expected to evolve even further into a Horoscope, and she received “special training” from Hayami in order to improve her Zodiarts abilities. He was a handsome man who called her “little puppy” as if he were mocking her, so she wasn’t very fond of him, but she did her best for Gamou’s sake. Eventually, she managed to master her control of Cosmic Energy. She was magnificent. It didn’t take her much time to awaken as a Horoscope, and the puppy reincarnated into a scorpion. It was the advent of the Scorpio Zodiarts, one of the Twelve Apostles.
Sarina would never forget the day she was officially invited into the “Red Room” for the first time, and was allowed an audience with Gamou. He spoke with her about his noble purpose of evolving humanity so that they could withstand space.
“Here at Ama High, we are gathering young people like you who have the potential to become Horoscopes. As one of our pioneers, your role is to guide them.”
His words were passionate.
“Therefore, I want you to become a teacher at our school. I have great expectations of you, Scorpio.”
He smiled gently at her and patted her shoulder.
At that moment, Sarina could feel a sense of a greater mission. “I have to do this.” A numbing sense of pleasure spread through her body.
“I was happy.”
Having reached this point in the story, Sarina Sonoda closed her eyes and took a moment to remember the emotions she’d felt.
“So that’s how I decided what I wanted to do. I went to university. I got a teaching license and returned to Ama High as a teacher.”
Yuuki’s smile had vanished. For Sonoda, her job as a “teacher” had never been anything more than a farce that allowed her to hand out Switches to students.
“So the only reason you became a teacher…was to hand out Switches on the headmaster’s orders…?”
Sonoda nodded without any hesitation.
“Yes. Now that you know that, can you still call me your teacher?”
Yuuki couldn’t bring herself to say anything. She felt scared and sad, and her heart felt cold.
Gentarou swallowed his butter cookie and stood up.
“Can I ask you one more thing, Sono?” His gaze was piercing right through Sonoda.
“You said there was an ‘unfortunate accident’. What’s that?”
“You said your dream changed after an ‘unfortunate accident’, didn’t you?”
Sonoda’s face turned glum. I don’t want to remember that. Why’d you have to ask me about that? I’m not saying any more.
Just then, the air around them changed in an instant. There was a strange smell — the smell of blood. Gentarou could feel the sea breeze getting warmer. I know this feeling. It’s Icarus!
Suddenly, a roaring noise! Everyone turned around to see a motorcycle approaching them. Gentarou hesitated, but the steel harbinger of death passed right by him.
“Here comes the blood girl!” yelled Yuuki, jumping up.
The ghost motorcycle stopped with a stutter, and the bloodstained girl got off.
“It’s you, Icarus…why’d you chase us all the way down here, and what are you planning to do?”
Sonoda was watching the girl in shock.
Clatter, clatter. Gentarou prepared his Driver, ready to fight the approaching girl. But something was wrong. She wasn’t staring at Gentarou or Yuuki, but at Sonoda.
The bloodstained girl walked right up to Sonoda. As she stood there ominously, Sonoda started breathing shakily.
“Who are you?”
The bloodstained girl’s mouth twisted in an expression of apparent sadness.
“You’re so mean, Sarina.”
The bloodstained girl picked up her bangs. She had the exact same face as Sonoda, No, looking closer, it was slightly different, a little younger. It was “the face of Sonoda during her high school days”.
The adult Sarina Sonoda and the bloodstained young girl Sarina were facing each other. On top of that, the young girl had a boy’s voice. The situation was so surreal that Gentarou and Yuuki were at a loss for words.
“You just called it ‘a certain unfortunate accident’. That makes me so sad.”
Something welled up within Sonoda. It was as if she’d struck upon something.
“N…No way…When they said ‘Icarus’…I thought it couldn’t be, but…”
“You named your rocket ‘Icarus’, didn’t you? I’ve made it into my new name.”
“You, could you be — Tsubasa!?”
“Hmmm, if you’d prefer that form, I don’t mind.”
The bloodstained girl grinned and twirled around, turning into a boy with distinctive facial features, looking around ten years old.
The boy was completely in white. He was wearing a white shirt and white trousers, and his skin was also stark white. Gentarou knew it was a cliché phrase, but the first thing that came to mind was that he was “like an angel”.
Sonoda’s expression was full of terror, as if she’d just seen the end of the world, and she collapsed onto her waist. The boy in white slowly approached Sonoda, crouched down, and embraced her.
“Poor Sarina. Just like the mythical Icarus, your wings2 are broken.”
Gentarou and Yuuki could only stare in confusion. They had absolutely no idea what was going on whatsoever. They kept staring back at the boy in white, and at Sarina, who had turned completely pale as her teeth rattled.
Sumie Taira’s house was the kind of mansion that didn’t even feel real. It was a Western-style building, like one from a fantasy B-movie. In other words, it was grand, but also so disconnected from reality that it went all the way into poor taste. Kengo, Miu, and Shun passed through part of the garden. From the gazebo, one could get a view of a pond that served as a water fountain. It was in poor taste, but it was big and wide. Miu and Shun, who would normally be the type to flaunt “look how rich my parents are ♪”, were both groaning in unison.
They were kept waiting for a while, until, finally, a man appeared. He seemed to be in a hurry, and he gave off the aura of a dazzling hotshot businessman. He continued talking to someone on his smartphone for a fashion, until he finally addressed the group.
“I apologize, but I’m only free for around five minutes. What business do you have?”
It was Sumie’s father.
“Um, it’s about Sumie…”
Kengo wasn’t even allowed to finish the sentence.
“If this is about my donation for the prom party, it should have been sent to the designated account on the 15th. I asked to have the receipt sent to my secretary section.”
“It’s not about that…Has Sumie been coming home lately?” said Miu, taking over the conversation.
“She informed me she would be staying over at school to prepare for tomorrow’s party. Well, it’s her last memory of high school, so I gave her special permission.”
Now that he had a proper look at Miu, he suddenly gasped, as if startled by her beauty.
“Are you Sumie’s friend? You’re quite lovely.”
He gazed at her with a slippery look, and Miu could feel goosebumps on her upper arm.
“I envy your parents. My Sumie has too modest of a personality, and she has no sense of grace as a high-class lady. But she’ll be in the limelight for tomorrow’s prom, so I think she’ll be much more confident there.”
This guy really doesn’t get it!
Miu looked like she was about to say something, but Shun told her a glance telling her to be quiet. If Sumie’s father didn’t know she was missing, there was no point in pressing the issue further. The trio left the Taira residence, dragging Miu behind them as she was still obviously trying to protest.
They reached the mansion gate, and Shun sighed.
“Yep, I know that one. A parent with a complete lack of understanding. Sounds like my dear father.”
“That father thinks of his daughter like she’s a house ornament.”
Miu also sympathized with Sumie’s troubles, but Kengo seemed to differ.
“You guys wouldn’t understand.”
“What’s that, Kengo?”
“No, nothing…Anyway, based on what we got from JK’s group, both Ryouko and Sumie are absent from school, and neither are at home. We’ll have to wait and see if Nozama and Sakuta get anything from Hozumi’s place, and if he’s not there, we’ll have to think about what to do next.”
At first glance, it seemed Kengo was still maintaining his usual cool-headed demeanor, but his heart was in turmoil.
Shouldn’t you be glad you have a father at all? It must be nice. I’m a Core Child. I don’t have a father. The one person who could be called my father, Rokurou Utahoshi, isn’t even in this world anymore.
It was the name of Sarina Sonoda’s childhood friend, who had gazed up at space together with her.
When she, Sarina, had tried to name her rocket “Icarus” —
“Isn’t Icarus the one who flew too high and fell…? I’m pretty sure his wings melted because the sun was too hot.”
And then he’d said —
“Why don’t you just make friends with the sun?”
Tsubasa had been the one to encourage her.
And then, like Icarus, Tsubasa had “crashed”.
“One day, a boy died in an accident. That boy is me,” said the boy in white to Gentarou and Yuuki.
Gentarou had a confused expression.
“Umm…I don’t get it. Maybe I’m too stupid to get it? Hey, Yuuki, did you get it?”
Yuuki shook herself.
“So you mean, you actually survived the car accident, and you’ve actually been alive this whole time?”
“No, that’s not it. See, look.”
Blood suddenly started dripping from the boy’s head dyeing his face and white shirt red.
Gentarou and Yuuki clutched each other in shock. Sonoda was even more in shock.
“I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry…” Sonoda stammered out her apologies from where she was on the ground.
The bloodstained boy looked at her with sad eyes.
“Don’t apologize, Sarina.”
“But…Tsubasa, you must have a grudge against me…”
“I have a grudge, but it’s not against you.”
“Not against me?”
As far as Gentarou and Yuuki were concerned, this conversation was making less and less sense.
“Hey, kid. Or Icarus, whatever your name is. Wanna explain this in a way that actually makes sense?”
The boy put on a light smile.
“Sarina saw me get in an accident, and the reality of it was too much of a shock for her.”
“We went to go see the fireworks. We were supposed to have fun together, but we got in a fight over something stupid. On our way back, Sarina was keeping her distance from me, and was walking ahead. I told her, ‘wait for me!’, but she just walked even faster. She was really being quite cruel to me.”
“…I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry…”
“Then, a drunk driver on a motorcycle started hurling towards me.”
The boy clapped his hands together with a bang, startling Sonoda.
“Bam! Crash! And then, my life ended.”
Sonoda shut her eyes tightly.
“If…” said the boy, looking straight into Sonoda’s face with malice. “‘If we’d been walking side by side, like we always had, I could have at least died with him. No, maybe Tsubasa died because I refused to walk back with him.’ That’s what Sarina thinks.”
“…I killed Tsubasa,” breathed Sonoda.
“Sarina’s feelings of guilt created ‘another part of her’, one she didn’t even know about. That’s me.”
The bloodstained boy spun around, and went back to looking like a bloodstained Sarina.
“And so, I’m Sarina.”
The bloodstained girl looked back at Gentarou as if to say, you get it now, right?
While Gentarou was still lost in confusion, Yuuki decided to ask a question for him.
“So if you’re supposed to be a part of Miss Sonoda, why do you have a physical body?”
“Yeah, yeah! That’s…aaaaaaaaaaah!”
Gentarou remembered that Kengo had made a hypothesis out of his results from analyzing Icarus.
“Could you be…SOLU?”
The bloodstained girl did nothing but laugh.
“So that means you’re the same kinda thing as Nadeshiko…? And that’s why you can turn into different things?”
The girl’s face became blurry and out of focus, leaving only a mouth, cackling on a blank face.
The SOLU in question had originally been a part of Nadeshiko.
At the Ama High cultural festival, when Kamen Rider Nadeshiko had fought against the Virgo Zodiarts, a part of her body, or in other words, a fragment of SOLU, had attached itself to Virgo. When Virgo had returned to the M-BUS in outer space, the fragment of SOLU had also been teleported there.
SOLU was an atomic life form, and was normally non-sentient. Occasionally, it would copy the morphology and memory of living creatures around it, but it still couldn’t be called truly “alive”. The fragment in question had also been a mindless lump at the time it had torn off from Nadeshiko. However, as with Nadeshiko, a miracle had occurred. It came in contact with the Zodiarts’ Cosmic Energy, causing it to evolve with malice. It mimicked different things, using Tachibana’s eyes to move around the M-BUS, and searched through Sonoda, Kijima, and Sugiura’s brains as they were frozen in sleep.
The SOLU had chosen Sonoda from among them. However, Sonoda had another part of herself. It was Tsubasa, the part of herself that she didn’t even know about. SOLU chose Tsubasa to use as its personality when it materialized.
Yuuki was organizing her thoughts.
“So this kid is actually…what happens when SOLU takes after a part of Miss Sonoda created by her own guilt,” she muttered.
Tsubasa turned to face Gentarou, with an uncanny-looking face that still had no eyes or nose.
“Sarina’s brain and Kijima and Sugiura’s memories all had Kamen Rider Fourze and Meteor in them. They considered them their images of a “strong enemy”. I used that information to make my own Kamen Rider-styled ‘strongest form’. And so, here I am.”
Tsubasa’s mouth slowly spelled out the word “transform”. A belt on the waist. Switch, on. The Cosmic Energy swirled and dissipated to reveal a fallen angel with broken wings.
“Kamen Rider Icarus.”
“I’ll be taking Sarina’s broken wings from her.”
Something resembling a faint band of light started flowing out from Sarina towards Icarus’s hand. Icarus’s broken left wing wriggled, and regenerated!
“Sarina’s negative energy and broken wings will bring me even closer to perfection.”
Sarina was still doubled over, and her face was completely drained of energy.
Icarus’s mask made it difficult to make out any expression. What kinds of emotions were burning in those red compound eyes?
“Stop!” Gentarou pulled out the Fourze Driver.
3! 2! 1!
Gentarou transformed into Fourze and started attacking Icarus, yelling his usual “here comes space!” At the same moment, Icarus’s left wing spread out.
The movement of Icarus’s wing was enough to toss Fourze back, and he hit the H-II rocket and fell. Icarus was slowly approaching with wings spread wide.
“So this is how we’re gonna do it, huh?”
Fourze took out Switch #22 and changed the module on his left hand.
He aimed at Icarus with a powerful hammer.
But Icarus spun around at high speed, sharpening the left wing and slashing it like a cutter. Sensing the danger, Foure bent his body back and guarded against the attack with the hammer. But — ! The wing sliced against the Hammer Module, which should have been solid without compare, and cut right through it.
Fourze yelped at the sight of the hammer being sliced in half. He set the Switch to off, releasing his left hand and opening and closing it to check its condition.
“Gen! Is your wrist okay?”
“Y-Yeah, I think it’s fine.”
“Try to get out of range! Use Magnet!”
“Oh yeah, that might work.”
Fourze took out an item resembling a mobile phone, the NS MagPhone.
“Stick it in, there!”
He split the phone in two and inserted both into his belt as Switches, flipping both of them on.
N! S! Magnet on!
Fourze changed into the shining silver Magnet States, with cannons on both shoulders.
Energy bullets fired from both cannons with a pitter-patter, heading straight towards Icarus.
With a whoosh! and a boom!, Icarus was engulfed in flames and smoke.
“Did it work? Did that do it?” said Yuuki, hoping it was all over.
But the smoke cleared to reveal Icarus still standing, perfectly intact. The left wing had folded over to form a shield and blocked all of the bullets.
“How many things can that stupid wing even do!?”
Icarus folded the wing with a flutter and was surrounded by a tornado. Kicking off the ground and jumping, rising while spinning like a drilling screw, Icarus made a U-turn in the air and started heading towards Fourze.
“Icarus Rider Kick!”
Right when Icarus’s leg was about to embed itself into Fourze’s chest armor —
A super blast of Cosmic Energy exploded!!
Gentarou was blown back, his transformation released.
It was not Yuuki who called out first, but Sonoda.
Tomoko and Ryuusei went to visit the Hozumi Surgical Clinic, which seemed to be a relatively large hospital. Seiru Hozumi’s home was attached to the facility, but he was also absent. Apparently, it was normal for their son to not come home from his fits of anger, and his mother was relatively unconcerned. Tomoko and Ryuusei thanked her for her time and left quickly.
“I guess we’ve got nothing here. All right, Tomoko, let’s go back to the club room and talk with everyone there,” said Ryuusei, sighing.
The two started walking.
“Seiru Hozumi, Ryouko Sakamoto, Sumie Taira…where on earth did they all go? Are they all planning on hiding somewhere until the prom starts? How are we even gonna find them?”
As they walked, Tomoko had a very grave expression on her face. She noticed Ryuusei was looking at her affectionately.
“No, I was just thinking, ever since you became the Rider Club president, you’ve been working really hard.”
“Is that bad?”
“Why would it be bad? I think that’s great.”
“…I want to give back.”
“Give back? To whom?”
“The Rider Club.”
Ryuusei continued watching Tomoko quietly.
“I came to Ama High and met Gentarou and all of the others in the Rider Club, and they changed my life. I’d been trapped in my own world and thought only about myself, but the Rider Club showed me that the world was much bigger than that. So I’m grateful…I want to do something for all of my friends, and for everyone else, not just for myself.”
Ryuusei could tell Tomoko was carefully choosing every word. Her face was still covered in goth makeup, but it had been getting thinner as her relationships got deeper. It was as if she was slowly climbing the stairs to adulthood and becoming a proper lady.
Once they’d returned to the Ama High front gate, Tomoko addressed Ryuusei.
“Hey, Ryuusei. Who are you dancing with at prom?”
The question had come out of nowhere.
“Tomoko, my school doesn’t have a prom.”
“You were part of the transfer student exchange program, so you could come dance at the Ama High prom.”
“No, I’m completely back at Subaruboshi now. I’m not allowed to be at the Ama High prom unless a graduate invites me to dance with them.”
Ryuusei could sense Tomoko wanted him to dance with her, but it worried him. Wouldn’t it be odd for him, a student from another school, to dance at Ama High’s prom? On top of that, while Tomoko was from Ama High, she was only in her second year, and she wouldn’t be graduating for another year.
“You’re worried because you’re from another school? You don’t have to be so serious about it.”
Tomoko was far more daring than usual today. She seemed to be upset by the fact Ryuusei was about to graduate. Her eyes were slightly wet, possibly because it had taken her so much courage to do this.
Now that she’d suddenly flipped on the youth switch, Ryuusei was internally panicking. Hwa-chaaaa…what do I do now? Just then, they were interrupted by a voice from behind.
“Then, maybe I should invite Ryuu to dance with me.”
They turned around to see someone there, grinning and waving a fan. It was Natsuji Kijima.
The atmosphere had completely changed again.
“Why, Ryuu, you’re the one who had the deepest impact on my time in high school. I lost to you, after all. You’re the only one who can be my dance partner, so will you dance with me?”
“This isn’t the time to be joking around, Kijima.”
“Of course I’m joking around. That’s how I live.”
“What are you even here for?”
“This is my school. You’re the one from another school, so what are you here for?”
He closed his fan with a snap and started poking Ryuusei with it. Is he looking for a fight? Ryuusei clenched his fist.
“Ryuusei is helping us out here at Ama High. Stop it,” said Tomoko, cutting in.
“Oh, it’s the Rider Club president. Have you gotten rid of the Zodiarts yet?”
“Make sure you do, okay? Do a good job of it. If they can’t hold the prom, Ryuu and I won’t be able to dance. Ahahaha. Try not to get smashed by the Zodiarts.”
Having achieved his purpose of annoying Ryuusei, Kijima left.
“I thought we’d already put everything to rest, but I guess he’s still got unfinished business with me,” said Ryuusei, glaring back at him.
But Tomoko felt something strange. Kijima was the kind of person who lied like he breathed, but she could feel something honest in what he’d just said.
“Dance with me,” you say? Stop it. You don’t have the same feelings as I do.
Back in Tanegashima, Tsubasa had released the Icarus transformation and was back in the form of a bloodstained boy, dancing around in a samba step as if taunting them. The one-winged warrior, Icarus, had been much stronger than expected.
“You makin’ fun of us?”
With an irritated face, Gentarou managed to pull himself up, but he still needed to be propped up by Yuuki and Sonoda.
“Wait, Gen! You’re pushing yourself too much.”
“We need to call an ambulance.”
Sonoda’s hand reached for her smartphone, but Gentarou grabbed it.
“Wait, Sono. It’s not over until we hear the ten-count.”
“But Gen, you’ve already been down for more than ten seconds.”
“Nah, Yuuki, you gotta think bigger. As long as I don’t accept the loss, we’ll still be at eight or nine.”
Panting heavily, Gentarou turned his attention to Yuuki.
“Hey, Tsubasa. Why d’you wanna ruin the prom so much?”
Tsubasa responded with a mischeivous laugh.
“You should ask Sarina that. I’m Tsubasa, but I’m Sarina, too.”
Yuuki looked at Sonoda with concern, but Sonoda was confused and started denying it.
“I wouldn’t know.”
“Of course you would know. You’re angry, aren’t you, Sarina? What are you angry at?”
Once Sonoda had returned to Earth from the M-BUS, she had learned about Gamou’s ambitions in detail, and about how they had been put to an end. As a result, she began to feel anger…anger at “her failure to achieve her dreams”.
As a child, Sonoda’s dream had been to become an astronaut. Eventually that dream became “to convert humans for space”, or in other words, making humans into Zodiarts. But now that Gamou had been defeated, that dream had collapsed as well. The biggest irony of it all was that Gamou’s ambitions had been shattered by his own students, from the very same Ama High he’d created for the sake of said ambitions. And alongside Gamou’s ambitions, Sonoda’s dreams had also been shattered.
“My space dreams were sha-ttered by A-ma High! I hate A-ma High!” shrieked Tsubasa in a high-pitched voice.
Sonoda yelped and started shivering. Seeing Sonoda’s distress, Tsubasa laughed with a condescending air.
“I copied Sarina’s anger into myself.”
“Why would you do that?!”
“Because it’s got energy. Anger is the best energy!”
Yuuki bit her lip.
“So in other words, you absorbed all of Miss Sonoda’s negativity.”
“That’s a crude way of putting it. But look how cute I am! I’m Sarina, a first-year in high school who’s full of dreams.”
Tsubasa spun around and changed into the high school-aged Sarina.
Unable to take it anymore, Sonoda clutched her head and bent over.
“I have to thank you, Gentarou Kisaragi. If you hadn’t brought Sarina back to Earth, I’d be trapped crawling around in the M-BUS forever. But thanks to you, I can do whatever I like here on Earth.”
“How dare you!”
“Sarina’s impulses of “anger” want me to destroy Ama High. Unless I make it happen, I won’t be able to feed off of her anymore. So, I’ll do it. I’ll do it now. How do you think I plan to do it?”
“By trashing the prom?” said Gentarou.
“Bingo. Well, let’s be more precise, shall we? For some students, the prom party is the best time of their high school life, and for some students, it’s the worst. Either way, the prom is the climax where all that energy swirls around, and it’ll be where those despicable Ama High students will scream and meet their end! That’s what Sarina desires, and that’s my mission.”
“No it’s not! Don’t drag me into this,” yelled Sonoda.
“Yeah! You’ve just been yammering on and talking trash this whole time.”
Gentarou staggered and stood up, trying to grab onto Tsubasa. Tsubasa quickly kicked upwards with a skirt flip, and landed a roundhouse kick! — which Gentarou managed to block with his arm.
“I don’t wanna do this when you look like a girl, so face me and transform, you piece of SOLU!”
“Hmm, you’re right. If we’re gonna fight, let’s pull out all the stops.”
The Driver appeared around Tsubasa’s waist. Gentarou set the Switches and levers on his own belt to on.
They both transformed into Fourze and Icarus together.
“Are you gonna be okay, Gen? You’re hurt!”
“Doesn’t matter, I’ve gotta do it anyway!”
Seeing Yuuki appealing to him with slightly teary eyes, Fourze suddenly had a very illogical thought cross his mind.
This one-on-one will tell me if I have the right to stop worrying about Kengo and dance with Yuuki…
“Don’t worry about me, Yuuki. If I don’t put an end to it here, we won’t have a prom.”
Yuuki was distressed, but she nodded firmly, as if accepting Gentarou’s wishes.
Next to her was Sonoda, whose expression was completely empty withs hock.
“Hey, Icarus, we’re still up for our one-on-one, right? Hyaaaah!”
It was time for Fourze and Icarus’s second round. It was an intense battle that required high concentration. Gentarou couldn’t afford to have doubts about what he wanted to do anymore. If he didn’t stop this evil monster in front of him, he and his friends would have no future to begin with. Both Riders’ limbs struck against each other at close range, and the impact caused the air around them to quiver. Unlike in their previous battle, Fourze had the upper hand. Icarus’s wings were desperately blocking against Fourze’s rush of attacks.
“You’re angry, I see. I can feel the strength of your energy from that anger. Very good.”
“Shut up! Angry Youthful Punch!”
Fourze slammed a hastily generated fire punch into Icarus’s face. Icarus staggered. Fourze paced backwards a few steps to make some distance and turned on the Launcher Switch.
He shot the missle towards Icarus with a boom.
“Got it!” yelled Yuuki.
But right before the missiles hit, they suddenly veered off course with a vriiiiing.
The missile evaded Icarus and headed for the H-II rocket.
“What are you doing, Gen?!”
“It’s not me, the missiles are moving on their own!”
They crashed with a tch-booom! The launcher missiles had blown up the symbol of Yuuki’s space dreams.
“Gyaaaaaaah!” shrieked Yuuki, clutching her head as the rocket burned in front of her.
“The missiles moved on their own…I remember this happening before…wait, no way, could it be him…?!”
Fourze looked around and saw a Zodiarts in the distance. It was the Pyxis Zodiarts.
Ryuusei and Tomoko returned to the Rider Club room, with Ryuusei still unsure of where he stood with her.
“Welcome back. Looks like we’re all here. Let’s have our debriefing session. Everyone in the center.”
Miu immediately started gathering everyone. Ryuusei looked back at Tomoko and could tell from her face that, sure enough, she wasn’t enjoying this at all. But it also seemed she knew this wasn’t the time to be fighting over club dominance, so she’d decided to let Miu have this for now.
JK and Shun were busy playing poker.
“Oh, it’s meeting time. Guess we gotta end this game.”
“Hey, wait, JK. Let’s at least finish this one.”
Shun tried to stop him, but JK tossed his cards down on the floor.
“Wait, seriously? Man, you even had three of a kind there.”
“See, I was just about to have a straight, so I win.”
“You sure about that? I was gonna have a full house, no, four of a kind. Ghhh, dammit.”
Ran looked back at Shun, thinking, he’s the former King, but all those handsome looks go down the drain as soon as he opens his mouth. What a waste. Just then, she noticed Kengo standing next to her, staring at Shun with a look of surprise on his face.
“…That’s it. He had four of a kind…”
“No, well, I only had three, but I was planning to get the fourth one,” explained Shun, looking embarrassed.
“Right. But it’d have been better if you had four. That’d make a full set. How did I miss something so simple?”
“What’s wrong, Kengo?” said Ran, taken aback by how focused Kengo had gotten.
“It’s the Argo Navis constellation.”
Haru pulled out a constellation guide from the bookshelf and started looking through an index.
“Is there such a thing?”
“It used to be a constellation in the past. It’s named after a ship in Greek mythology.”
“So it doesn’t exist anymore?”
“Right. It was such a huge constellation that a French astronomer named Lacaille split it up into four smaller ones. The split was officially approved by the International Astronomical Union in 1928, so the name ‘Argo Navis’ is no longer in use.”
Tomoko and Miu came closer to Kengo as he explained.
“So what are the four constellations?”
“Carina, Vela, Puppis, and…”
“Wait, those are the Zodiarts messing up the prom!” said JK, bursting out.
“Kengo, what’s the last constellation?” said Miu.
Kengo had a troubled expression on his face.
Ran and Haru were confused, but all of the older members, who remembered the Pyxis Zodiarts, were in shock.
“Pyxis means…” said JK.
“…the Pyxis Zodiarts!” said Shun.
“Wait, so that means…him?” said Miu.
“Yep. The one whose ‘fate of the stars’ is Pyxis.” said Kengo.
“The ultimate enemy of all women,” said Tomoko.
Back on Tanegashima, the Pyxis Zodiarts stood before Fourze.
Two long horns like those of stag beetles on his head, and appendages like longswords extending from both wrists. Using these swords, Pyxis could control his opponents’ attacks in midair.
“Pyxis! Is that you, Makise?!”
Yuuki could feel goosebumps on her back. She’d felt a sticky gaze on her ever since they’d been back at the airport. No, even longer than that. She’d felt it even during the morning she’d gotten in a fight with Kengo. She’d felt it when she was working with the prom committee. Was that what it was? Had it been former stalker Makise this entire time?”
“Makise! Show yourself!”
Perhaps in response to the severity in Yuuki’s voice, Pyxis released his transformation. Indeed, it was Hiroki Makise, wearing glasses and with an obvious bedhead. Fourze and Icarus momentarily stopped their fighting to look at Makise.
“Why’d you go back to being a Zodiarts?” said Yuuki.
Makise looked away from her.
“…I wasn’t sure.”
“Makise, I know we were fighting eac other before, but we became friends after that, right?”
“I said, I wasn’t sure.”
“Weren’t you trying to turn over a new leaf after everything you did?”
“I was, but…”
“‘Was’? Past tense?”
“How’d you put it…’youth’ means getting not being sure sometimes, right?”
“You’re not the one who gets to say that!” yelled Yuuki.
Makise responded with a sharp glare.
He’d suddenly snapped without warning, and Yuuki jumped back in shock.
“Y-Y-You wouldn’t understand the greatness of my principles!”
His words were strange. Looking closely, something was odd about Makise’s eyes. It wasn’t “odd” in the way you would normally describe a former creep like Makise, but “odd” in the sense that something was seriously wrong.
Seeing the agitated Makise, Icarus looked back at him.
“Oh, Makise, you were the only one that wasn’t fully prepared, but since you’re here, that means you finally are, right?”
“I’m prepared…to kill everyone in Ama High…”
Fourze and Yuuki were both taken aback with horror.
“Makise, what the heck? Do you even know what you’re saying?”
As it seemed, something was abnormal about his condition. It seemed that Icarus’s malice had forcibly poisoned his spirit.
Icarus continued whispering to Makise.
“The other three are making preparations for tomorrow in ‘a certain place’. Come, let’s go meet them. You’ll need to share energy with them if you want to be a ‘perfect being’.”
Fourze tried to stop Makise.
“Makise, wake up!”
Makise shook off Fourze’s hand and turned his Switch on, transforming into Pyxis and slashing at Fourze.
Fourze tried to dodge, but Pyxis whooshed the tip of his sword towards Fourze, causing him to turn around like a puppet. Bam! Icarus took the opportunity to kick him right on the stomach.
Icarus seemed to be pleased with Pyxis’s control abilities.
“Ahahaha, very good. All right, Makise, follow me.”
Pyxis nodded back at Icarus, and both of them converged on Fourze and began to beat him up.
Yuuki’s sorrowful wails echoed through the air.
Meanwhile, in the Rider Club room, everyone was gathering around Kengo.
“So that means Icarus deliberately gathered up all the Zodiarts for the constellations that make up Argo Navis?” asked Ryuusei.
Shun, Miu, and JK all pelted him with questions.
“So can Icarus read the ‘fate of the stars’ like Libra can?”
“It’d make sense if she could.”
“She said she already handed out the final Switch, right?”
“Yeah. It’s very likely Makise went back to being a Zodiarts.”
“Didn’t Gentarou give him a beating and make him repent?”
“He should have learned his lesson and was supposed to be turning over a new leaf, but…”
Tomoko cut in.
“I get the feeling he’s ended up back on the dark side again.”
Everyone knew that whenever Tomoko said she “had a feeling”, she was usually right. The room filled with a sense of despair.
“Icarus might be planning to merge all four Zodiarts into a single Argo Navis Zodiarts,” said Kengo in a tense voice.
“A fusion Zodiarts? Is that even possible?”
“No idea. But if my hypothesis is right, Makise is the last piece Icarus needs to complete the puzzle.”
Ryuusei, who was somewhat calmer compared to the rest, frowned.
“What would you even do at a prom with that kind of monster?”
Fourze was still struggling against Icarus and Pyxis back in Tanegashima. Pyxis’s ability to manipulate things made him very effective when fighting in a duo. But Fourze knew he couldn’t run away from the battle, and kept on fighting desperately as if he still had a chance.
Yuuki’s eyes were overflowing with tears. She couldn’t even see clearly anymore, to the point of frustration.
“Miss…um, Sarina. You still had Zodiarts switches, right?” she said, pressing on Sonoda.
“I did. I didn’t know Tsubasa was using them, though.”
Even though Sonoda had told them to stop treating her as a teacher, something selfish in her felt sad about the fact Yuuki was no longer addressing her that way. It made something hurt, deep within her heart.
“Icarus copied your thoughts. Does that mean all of this is what you really want? You want all the students to die?”
“…Of course not.”
“Because Ama High ruined your dreams?”
“I don’t know! I’ve got nothing to do with this!”
Still fighting Fourze, Icarus jumped in the air, spun around, and landed near Sonoda.
“Of course you do. I’m Sarina herself. I’m her alter ego.”
“Stop!! You’ve got nothing to do with me!!”
Sonoda finally reached her limit and ran away.
“…There she goes.”
Yuuki could only watch her run off in a daze.
She suddenly caught sight of a scrap of paper on the ground. Sonoda had accidentally trampled on it. Yuuki let out a breath.
“When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut“
When she was still a young girl, Sonoda had written her dream of becoming an astronaut on this paper. Yuuki quickly picked it up and dusted it off. But such a symbol of Sonoda’s dream had been crushed into the ground, and it pierced through Yuuki’s heart like a knife. It was a strange sense of unease, as if her feet were being sucked into the beach sand.
Icarus suddenly grabbed Yuuki’s shoulder.
“Ow! Let go of me!”
“Hey, you. Are you sure you want to go to space?”
“What do you mean?!”
“You’re a lot like Sarina. No, you’re not just like her, you’re the same as her. You wanted to go to space, and went to Ama High. And then, you became a Zodiarts, and one of the Twelve Apostles. See, you’re the same.”
“What are you trying to say?!”
“Sarina’s dreams shattered, creating a monster like me. If you keep trying to go to space, you’ll end up just like Sarina. Do you really think you can become an astronaut?”
Yuuki’s resolve to achieve her dream, the resolve she’d held firmly since she was a child, suddenly wavered for a moment. Taking advantage of that moment, Icarus slammed Yuuki with a burst of Cosmic Energy.
Yuuki leaned over gently and fell to her knees. It was as if her soul had been extracted.
“Ahaha. Your wings are about to break. No, they’ve already broken, haven’t they?”
Still in the midst of fighting Pyxis, Fourze realized something strange was happening.
“Hey! What’d you do to Yuuki?!”
“Nothing. I just amplified her despair about the future.”
Icarus’s broken right wing started to flutter. It was on the verge of regenerating.
“I can feel your energy. Your broken wings helped regenerate mine.”
Icarus’s right wing spread wide.
The left wing followed. Icarus’s wings spread as if to show off how well they’d regenerated.
“The broken dreams of young people like you will generate negative energy and bring me closer to perfection. Tomorrow, I’ll smash all the wings of all the graduating students hoping to fly into society. And then I’ll kill them all. Hahahahahaha!”
Fourze lay a punch on Pyxis and used the Rocket Module to dash at Icarus.
Icarus flew up with a flutter.
In only a single moment, Icarus had flown too high to be reached.
Fourze looked up. He could see Icarus hurling towards him, spinning and twirling like a screw. But everything was too fast, so fast it looked transparent, to the point even the background was visible.
“Icarus Perfect Rider Kick!”
Fourze took the brunt of the finisher. Cosmic Energy exploded around him like a Big Bang, and Gentarou completely lost consciousness.
He was hurled into a pitch-black universe with nothing.
- Dove butter cookies = hato sablé (鳩サブレー), dove-shaped butter cookies that are popular as stock souvenir gifts.
- Wordplay: the word for “wings” in Japanese is “tsubasa” (翼).
- For the sake of not spreading misinformation: this is, ironically, actually false, and is a common misconception. The only modern constellations that make up what used to be Argo Navis are Carina, Puppis, and Vela; while Pyxis is located in a proximate area, Lacaille classified it separately.