Today was about me, apparently. I came to Japan wanting answers, but I didn’t expect to be buried in them without trying.
On the plane, Razmus was relatively well-behaved, and he even apologized for the “sellout” comment. He also showed me a polaroid of him and his parents, obviously from a number of years ago, and said that he might’ve said such a thing out of jealousy.
Mom and Ryo met us at the airport, and neither has changed much. Ryo’s soccer team is on its way to the division finals, and mom is… well, mom. For some reason Razmus felt the need to tell my mother, in broken Japanese, that he is “Hikaru’s boyfriend that he met on the internet.” He seemed annoyed that I shut him down (“こいつ、彼氏なんかねぇよ。”). He either has a poor sense of humor or doesn’t understand that my mother wouldn’t have believed it for a second. He forgets that we’ve only known each other for about six weeks.
The house is just as I remember it though. It feels like I’ve been away a lifetime, but really it’s only been a matter of months. The next morning, Eri, Takeshi, and Suzuka arrived, and it surprised no one that Suzuka was all over Razmus. What surprised me was that she got him to agree to a date of sorts — a trip to Akiba.
When mom asked me to go buy some salmon at the market, and I wound up with Razmus and Sam tagging along, and that’s when business started trying to ambush me. There was a scruffy Westerner in the market, who was fitting in perfectly. He telepathically introduced himself as the Watcher, and told me to say hi to Glenn for him. He went on to say that he was born in the 1700s, that he had a premonition that something important was going to happen soon, that there was another Rider operating somewhere in Japan, and that we should check out Project Perseus’ abandoned Tokyo facility. Razmus and Sam neither saw nor suspected anything at the time.
But that wasn’t the half of it. I took Glenn and mom into the kitchen to talk about a few things. I’d been gearing up to confess about what I’ve been doing, but she’d already figured it out. No climax. “I wouldn’t be your mother if I didn’t know.” What other surprises does she have? Glenn was surprised to hear about the Watcher, to be sure. Then my erstwhile grandfather made his appearance. He looked like a typical wizened old Japanese man, but he had a Brace of his own, and I could see from the look in his eyes that he is a man of experience and power. Then, he let Glenn and I ask questions.
My father really was an alien then, and so is my grandfather. The Riders consider themselves guardians of justice in the universe, and they send Riders to distant planets in need of heroes. Earth already has many native heroes, so they sent only one, my father, some 19 years ago (which would mean I was concieved not too long after he arrived…). The Braces are techno-organic, and contain a memory of sorts, though only some of the first-generation ones are sentient (the Mega-Brace is not one of those… and yet it’s 9,000 years old). It draws from a dimensional pocket an organic inner suit that serves as insulation and interface, and an organic outer armor, that wraps around the wearer. My grandfather (his name is Yukimaru) was shocked that I could transform, and while inspecting my armor he noted that it was very close to finally adapting to me. I’ve been able to use the suit’s main powers — armor, jumping, the Mega-Sword, and the Mega-Beam — but there’s another level, which involves combining them in different ways.
Being a Rider is treated as a hereditary post, but passed down from father to son. Ryo would’ve been the one to recieve the Mega-Brace next, but (thank god) not until he turned 18. If dad’s attitude was typical of Riders, Ryo would make a better fit, but it’s a little late for that right now. What is puzzling is that in theory the Brace should’ve gone into hiding on its own, and then proceeded to appear to Ryo when he came of age. Instead it somehow wound up in the hands of Project Perseus, and then me. On the plus side, if I really do decide to retire, Ryo would be able to take up the fight, but not until he’s old enough. On the other hand, when all’s said and done he has the power to make the world a better place without becoming a superhero. He’ll probably be furious at me for, in effect, stealing “his” superpowers, but that’s ironic considering that far more than me he can appreciate a normal life.
The other thing is that my father’s people have been waging a war against another race, an implacable enemy that is a bane to civilized life in the universe. And if my grandfather is to believed, Razmus is one of that race. I could tell the old man wanted to rip him apart, but he held back because Razmus is one of my comrades. When my grandfather finally left–vanishing in a flash of light–I went and told the others the parts I felt were safe to tell.
Raz, predictably, immediately went into denial, as though his ancestry somehow invalidated the experiences of his family, the circumstances of his birth. Neither the archeological evidence that points to Japanese people having come to the islands from the mainland, nor the fact that I’ve been living in San Francisco, nor even the fact that my father was an alien, make me less Japanese, much less not human. Razmus is still Razmus, and the man and woman in the picture are his parents. The problem is, we could find ourselves facing other shapeshifters who aren’t so friendly as him or his family. And another thing. Although I know better than to be naive about it, there remains the distinct possibility that what my grandfather told me was only the truth as he knows it. There are two sides to every story.
In any case, with that done, I announced that we were going to investigate Project Perseus’ Tokyo facility. And everyone went along with it. I don’t think of myself as having leadership qualities, but Razmus is too independent for that, Glenn just doesn’t seem to want to tell people what to do if he can help it (and I don’t blame him), and Sam and Jack are too passive. Still, when I took the initiative like that, I didn’t expect it to work out so smoothly.
Of course, we haven’t yet entered the building, so we’ll soon find out whether I made a good decision. What we’re approaching–by train–is outwardly a fairly ordinary office building in the middle of the city. It’s since been leased out to another, more innocuous organization. I have to try to remember where the research labs and such were located. I think most of that stuff was in the second and third basement levels.
I’m glad no one saw me the morning after we arrived. I woke up, and something about the dream I had made me wake up crying. I still can’t remember what it was about, but I coudn’t stop crying anyway. That isn’t like me.