Welcome to the first part of this superhero serial fiction story! In case you weren’t clued in by now, this is essentially a massive fanfiction project that I have embarked upon, and am only now realizing the scope of my ambitions might turn this into a true Odyssey… word-count wise, I mean, but hey, also a clever ancient Greek lit reference.
This is the first part of Myth 1. The fiction will be split up into chapters, and each chapter will be further split into parts that are released every week on Sunday mornings (around the same time the actual Kamen Rider tv show airs in Japan). Each part will be roughly around 3,000 words, cut to where I deem dramatically appropriate. There will soon be a convenient tab on the front page of the website where all parts will be archived for easy viewing.
This project is also being released concurrently on AO3 (Archive Of Our Own) and my personal tumblr, to reach the greatest potential audience. However, only on the BloodLetterPress website will you get exclusive next-episode teasers for the coming week!
And finally, because Kamen Rider is quintessentially Japanese, I make some creative choices with the language in which words I choose to use in Japanese instead of English (99.9% of the time because there’s no equivalent word or term with the same descriptive power, and the rest of the time because I’m a hopeless weeb). Don’t worry, there’s like only one or two per part, and Google Translate should be able to help you if you care enough. Oh and also the names are traditional Japanese family-name, given-name order, unless I messed up somewhere, which I probably did or will.
So yea! Without further ado.
Kamen Rider Calliope
Myth 1, Part 1
It was the kind of scene a person witnesses only once, if they’re lucky.
Every corner of the sky was flooded with shrouds of noxious colors; greens and oranges and purples folded themselves together, heavy and roiling, as if the firmament had become a well of Hades. Light was filtered into a muted dim that also seemed to distort sound, catching noises and dashing them against hard surfaces, just to hear the pained echoes they would make. Many humans had found corners to hide in; those that preferred running were spurred on by legions of grotesque monsters, lured by the very fear they were causing.
There were only a couple humans around to witness the battle at the epicenter of this catastrophe, near enough to observe the ongoing skirmish between two tremendous powers. One contender was a man clad in a form-fitting suit that amplified his masterfully-confident martial-arts maneuvers. He was notably faster than his opponent, but even his cleanest hits had only a superficial effect. The monster facing him down was armored in heavy plates that swirled about its hulking body like solidified mist. Despite its humanoid form, the enemy lurched about under its own weight, taking wide-sweeping swings that were easily avoided, until a failed kick prevented the man from escaping the monster’s reach in time. A nearby tree was felled from the force of the fighter’s body flying back into it. The monster paused to chortle at his opponent’s misfortune.
“What’s wrong, Atlas? Were you not going to show me how a Kamen Rider puts evil back in its place?”
Despite the severity of the attack, Atlas was back on his feet in time for a rebuttal. “All part of the plan, Kronos. Enjoy the last moments of your delusional victory; the only Titans I haven’t taken down yet can’t even be bothered to show up in your final hour.”
Kronos growled at this undeniable provocation, as the battlefield remained a fair one-on-one fight. “It shows just how much they were worth in the end. I don’t need them to complete my plan at this point; my to-do list has just one final box to check off, Kamen Rider. So, how about you help me out a bit… and DIE FOR ME?”
Kronos punctuated his last request by smashing the ground in front of him, causing an eruption of necrotic energy to surge forth at Atlas.
“Hard pass on that, sorry,” Atlas replied after a deft roll to the side. “But I’m on board with wrapping this up.” He reached out his hand and pulled a sword from seemingly nowhere; it didn’t have the keen edge of a normal steel blade, but it resonated with an energy that made Kronos shrink back. The sword had several moving components, and Atlas pulled at one of these, revealing an installation port for a small disc.
Kronos sensed the turning of the tides, and struck the ground again and again, sending relentless shockwaves of energy at Atlas. Atlas dodged a couple, and sliced away the third after equipping his weapon with an ancient-looking seal he retrieved from his utility belt. He pulled another lever on the sword and the whole thing shifted form in a flash of light; the new blade was even more menacing, and sported a ring on which to attach even more discs.
Kronos continued his frantic assault, but this time it was the monster’s attacks that proved futile. Each disc Atlas connected to his weapon increased his power immensely, and each one added to a resonance that heralded the build-up for a final, decisive strike.
“Enough of this!” Kronos roared. “You can do nothing against me, no matter whose power you employ!” The monster spread its arms wide, summoning into its grip two massive chains that glowed with molten malice. Atlas barely managed to evade their convergence point, and had to keep rolling and ducking to avoid the chains’ follow-up attacks.
Atlas slid the final seal into place, completing the power-up sequence that set the sword ablaze with purifying energy. “I am Kamen Rider Atlas. I am hope, I am justice, and I am your end.”
“There is no end for me, or for you, we are bound to the same ancient rock,” Kronos spat at him, smashing the chains down and dispersing them in a series of explosions. “You know the prophecy. This is our end until our next beginning, and so it never ends! And yet you…” Kronos ranted madly at the hero who stood ready to charge him, sword held aloft.
“You never see reason! You never acknowledge despair! You never accept your failure!”
“Because I am a hero…” Atlas replied, cutting off his remark in tandem with Kronos’ arm.
“Who does not fail.”
The next moment of silence was a chalice into which the promise of victory was freely poured. Atlas savored it, so much that he didn’t even bother turning around to see his enemy in defeat.
It was too late when he heard the joyous shouts of his allies twist themselves into terrified warnings before they even had time to echo.
“A hero who does not fail?” The honeyed smugness in Kronos’ voice seeped into Atlas’ blood, much of which was quickly vacating the hero’s body through a gaping wound that had appeared in the his abdomen. The arm Atlas had removed from Kronos’ body had proved to be a head that could still bite; more than metaphorically, as it had suddenly transformed into an abomination with a toothy maw and tore at Atlas. He had managed to strike it down for good, but not before suffering injuries as grievous as that first bite. He tried to turn and face Kronos, who he heard advancing upon him from behind, but was flung from his shaking feet by a lazy swat of his enemy’s remaining arm.
“Your words are at odds with your actions, Atlas. Perhaps we can deduce that you…” Kronos sunk his armored boot into the Kamen Rider’s bloody chest. “Are not a hero, but a human fool who plays one with a mask? That would explain the discrepancy.”
Atlas grabbed at Kronos’ leg, trying to shift it off of him, but that only managed to entice Kronos to push down harder. “The prophecy…” he gasped up at Kronos. “You said… there is no end for me… or you… So both of us… will…” He groaned as Kronos ended his sentence with pain.
“This time I thought we’d try something new. I’ve figured out a way to take you out of the picture without returning myself to that hellish void.” Kronos’ remaining arm shifted forms, this time into a spear, heavy and cruelly pointed. “Your work is done here, you masked fool.”
“And with that,” Kronos said, now to no one,
“We begin this story without a hero.”
On this hot night in early August, under a menacing sky, and the terrible shock of a great hope extinguished, Shizu Kaname bolted awake in her bed, sweating from a terrible dream that she promptly forgot.
-One Month Later-
The morning sun pulled itself up over the windowsill and tumbled down into the folds of the bedsheets. It rolled lazily across the comforter and reached out for the clock on the nightstand, whose alarm had been going off for the past twenty minutes, demanding attention from an empty room. The sunlight had just managed to flop onto the floor and nestle in a pile of laundry when the door burst open.
“Hot Christ! Kaname, if you’re going to sleep in at least turn off your alarm unless… oh, you’re not even here.” The thunder subsided from Shizu Masaki, 42 years great and ever-so-proud mother of a daughter on her first day of university.
“She’s not even here!” The thunder never stayed away for long. “And here I was worrying since five a.m., trying to make a wholesome breakfast and get her out the door well before time so she wouldn’t be nervous about being late… WELL, now she’s got somethin’ to worry about!”
Masaki made a harsh gesture that nearly cost her the blackened lump of eggs and bacon that were chemically converging inside her frying pan. “Whups! Well, guess I shouldn’t let the ones still on the stove go to waste.” She retreated back down the stairs into the thin film of smoke that would tell a better chef they were already too late.
“Third time’s the charm,” Masaki was muttering as she slapped her skillet on the stove and cracked four more eggs. Her keen ear caught the rattle of the front door, and she yelled out
“Kaname! The hell have you been?” Before her daughter could disappear upstairs.
“Not still in bed, fortunately, I think the smoke would have suffocated me by now.” Kaname walked into the adjoining dining room, waving a hand at the air. The 19-year old was dressed in what others would consider her “trademark outfit”; worn-thru hi-tops, black jeans, t-shirt, a stajan-style jacket and a perennial scowl. The jacket was a constant of her attire, having gotten it from her father. The scowl was also from him, or so Masaki claimed.
But it was hard for anyone to miss the many features mother and daughter shared; the lithe frame, hair with a slight natural perm, tired-looking eyes that defied makeup, to name the most prominent. Kaname didn’t quite get all of Masaki’s height, as Kaname seemed to have halted around 166cm, well short of Masaki’s widely-envied 182cm. Kaname’s running joke was that Masaki owed her at least 10cm in her will once she died; Masaki would reply that being bitter and quick to anger was a side-effect of being short, which always got immediate results.
“There! Eggs.” Masaki slapped a plate down on the table.
“If you say so.” Kaname slid into the chair and popped on the tv before reaching for anything else. “And I was visiting dad.”
Masaki sighed and folded her arms, but the thunder had passed again. “You could have told me, we could have gone and washed his grave together, it certainly needs it.”
“Yeah, another time. I just wanted to say I was heading out. And that I blame everything bad that happens today on him.”
“Whatever makes you happy. Or surly, if that’s how you want to play it. Now hurry up, or you’ll be late to be early for your first day.”
Kaname’s sarcasm didn’t rise past a grunt before turning her attention to the TV, in hopes of distracting herself from the unsettling crunch of her eggs. They were running a special on the morning news, and the somber tone was in stark contrast to the station’s usual oversaturated cheerfest. Some pianist who was probably best known for their elevator music was playing in a minor key while heavily-doctored pictures of what was supposedly a scene of tragedy were dragged through a sepia soup on-screen. For the sake of the general viewing public, anything that made the images remotely interesting was pixelated beyond recognition.
“Hard to believe it’s been a month since it happened,” Masaki said, setting down her plate of reheated leftovers across from Kaname (why didn’t she have to eat her own breakfast?). “A Kamen Rider actually getting killed by something. I guess they really are just human, but still, watching a hero lose against a villain does bad things to public morale.”
Kaname shrugged, her interest already lost. “Yeah, well, seems like the villain didn’t even end up doing anything, or at least anything news-worthy. Maybe the police came in and took them out, or the military or summat.”
“True. Whatever happened, I guess I can’t complain that it’s still peaceful,” Masaki replied, enjoying the bliss that came with ignorance. “Still, be careful on your way to the university. And while you’re there. And on the way back.”
“Mom, jeezus. Why are you suddenly acting like one of those neighborhood baa-chans who gossip and worry all day? You’re not even that old yet, and if you were gonna start worrying about me it’s like ten years too late, I started picking fights in middle school.”
Masaki laughed at that. “Fair enough. It’s just a big day for you. And for me in a way. You get to go to the university your dad went to; the fact that he was going to college when we first met was intimidating and enviable for me. And it made him all the more attractive. I always knew university life wouldn’t ever work out for me, but…”
“Yeah, I’ve been saying that too. Another way we’re alike.” replied Kaname from the sink, watching her dishes slip beneath the soapy surface of the water.
Masaki watched her daughter’s back with gentle eyes. “I know, Kaname. It’s not like I wasn’t listening. But now that you’re out of high-school, you gotta find something to do.”
“I wouldn’t mind working in the bike shop.”
“If that’s what you really want to do, after you’ve given some other things a fair shot, I won’t say anything against it. I know university might not be the right fit for you, Kaname, I really do; we are alike. But for your dad’s sake, please just give it a shot. You’re also smart and tough and kind-hearted when it suits you. Too many things to waste on a run-down bike shop.”
The blunt earnestness that her mother was so good at left Kaname too bashful to continue the argument. Despite a general mistrust of educational institutions, there wasn’t anything about learning in particular that Kaname found distasteful. But doing this now felt like she was doing a lot of people a favor, herself not included. It was a responsibility she had never agreed to, and she couldn’t slough it off without betraying her parents’ feelings. So, off to school she went.
An early fall was already starting to bring some color to the streets of Yuon City. Nestled close to one of Hokkaido’s many beautiful mountain ranges, the city offered a smaller-scale alternative to anything Sapporo had to offer. Its big draw was onsens; in the early settling days it had been difficult to drill for water anywhere without stumbling upon a natural hot spring. Tourist money was good money, and so Yuon was host to more hot springs and spa resorts than nearly all other cities in Hokkaido combined. Locals like the Shizu family always had the neighborhood hook-up though, and avoided the tourist traps in favor of the actual best baths for a fraction of the price. Their family’s offering was their expertise as mechanics; although competing with incoming national chains was always an uphill battle, they could count on the curmudgeons with small-town loyalties to bring their busted scooters and motorcycles to Shizu Masaki’s repair shop, Hephaestus.
Kaname’s own ride was one of the spares they kept around the shop, mostly outfitted with salvage parts. Once she started working in the shop “for real”, Kaname figured she would start building a more serious machine… or maybe just wait until someone sold them a nice bike and she could beg it off her mother. For the meantime, old sodaigomi would have to do (Masaki’s joke of a name she refused to toss out with the actual trash).
Kaname always knew sodaigomi had a shitty muffler, but she had never been so keenly aware of it as when she rolled up to the main gates of Yuon University. It turned heads and raised eyebrows, which was not a desirable first impression for Kaname. She coasted as much as she could to a parking space and put some distance between her and the bike, watching the pristine edifices of brick and glass rise up around her. Sapporo had bigger buildings, but they always felt quiet and impartial, like massive rocks or trees that some people lived inside. These campus building were created to impress and to flaunt the reputation of being Yuon’s most prestigious university. The structures were more artistic than functional; Kaname was almost afraid to approach one for fear of not being able to find the door right away.
Everyone else walked past her looking like they knew everything about the place, which was a fair assessment, as even the freshman had been here a full semester already. There was a map nearby, but there was a shame Kaname felt in being seen reading it. She hadn’t been prepared for the level of social anxiety she was feeling right now; it had been easy to act however she wanted back in high-school, especially without any expectations to meet or cliques to impress. But how was anyone here supposed to know what a carefree rebel she was? How could they judge her poorly if they hadn’t bothered to judge her at all yet? Just let me hurry up and disappoint you all already! And so Kaname’s thoughts went as she stood staring off in a daze, possibly more awkward now than if she had at least been pretending to look at the map.
By some sort of luck or fear-based instinct, Kaname managed to get herself to the administrative offices to pick up her schedule, and then get from there to the life sciences classroom. It was a good first step, the second step coming fourteen minutes later when she realized the class in session was not, in fact, the algebra class she actually had on her schedule.
She allowed herself to break into a full sprint now that the hallways were nearly empty, hoping she could sneak in the back of the classroom like she was always able to do in high school. At the last corner she cut too narrowly and had to make emergency evasive maneuvers to avoid laying out a girl who was right in her path. Kaname took a fall that, as someone who grew up around bikes, didn’t even register on her severity meter, but she hadn’t managed to get back on both feet yet before her near-victim was at her side.
~~Next Time, In Part 2 ~~
Kaname’s collision with a beautiful stranger is the first of many fateful meetings on her first day. There’s something more about this girl than meets the eye… can she see things in store for Kaname that even Kaname herself is oblivious to!? Maybe if our hard-headed protagonist could pull her eyes away long enough to find out! Tune in next Sunday, January 21st, 9:00a.m. EST!