Act 5: The Kabuto Origami
"Hey! Hey! Is it true that we're getting a day off?"
"Our lord said that sometimes, we need a change of pace…"
Ryuunosuke had not even finished his sentence when Chiaki literally bounced up from the floor with excitement.
"Alright! I need to go clothes shopping! I got nothing else to wear for spring at the moment…"
"I think I'll go watch a movie. Wonder if there are still tickets…" Mako mused as she walked over to Kotoha with a movie magazine in hand.
"If only I've woken up sooner-"
"Wait, calm down!" Ryuunosuke suddenly said out loud, causing everyone to turn towards him.
"I have a good idea. Why not we… All go out together? That way, we can strengthen our friendship!"
Ryuunosuke pulled Chiaki, who had just changed his clothes, towards the girls as he spoke.
"I mean, there are still many things we do not know about each other, right?" he continued.
"But isn't being together like this every day more than enough?" Mako asked.
"Yes, that's right. I know enough, especially about you…" Chiaki commented as he swung his arm to put it on Ryuunosuke's shoulders, only for the latter to suddenly squat down in front of Kotoha, causing him to miss.
"Kotoha, is there any place that you want to go?"
It only took two seconds for the Earth Samurai to make up her mind.
"I want to go to the amusement park with you all!"
"That's it! We'll do that!"
Now it was Kotoha's turn to start bouncing with excitement.
"This is great! It will be my first time visiting an amusement park in Tokyo!" she exclaimed.
"Your first time?"
"Hey, wait a minute…"
"Don't just decide that yourself!"
As the other two protested Ryuunosuke's idea, Takeru came walking in with Zenjiro. Upon seeing them, Ryuunosuke immediately went over and got down to one knee.
"Tono, about today's day off, we've decided to go to the amusement park."
"Oh? Okay then," Takeru replied nonchalantly before walking past them.
"Ah, tono, please come with us."
Takeru turned around, as though he wanted to say something, but then he appeared to change his mind, or rather, what he wanted to say.
"Another time, perhaps. I'm busy with something now, so you guys go ahead without me."
With that, Takeru left the room, with the others sighing.
"There's only one person we don't understand at all," Mako commented.
"I just can't get a grasp on that guy," Chiaki added.
"Zenjiro, what about you? Do you want to joi- Ah… AH! What happened to your hands?!"
"Oh, this? I had a fall at the shrine behind the mansion. It's not so bad, though it also means I can't join you guys either," Zenjiro explained as he held up both his arms, which were bandaged from below the elbow to the fingers.
Unknown to the others as they fussed over Zenjiro's injuries, alone in his personal room, Takeru silently opened a box which contained the Kabuto Origami's disk, the one Zenjiro was able to repair at the cost of getting his arms all bruised up…
"I wish the lord had come along with us," Ryuunosuke said as he, Mako, Chiaki and Kotoha walked through he amusement park.
"Well, he said he was busy, right? Although he never told us what he was busy with…" Mako replied.
"And Zenjiro-kun's arms are in a bad shape, otherwise he could have joined us as well," Kotoha chimed in.
"I still don't get it with Takeru, though. That guy never tells us what kind of stuff he's busy with… He's so withdrawn from all of us," Chiaki said with a tone of annoyance.
"That is not true," Ryuunosuke said defensively as he turned to face Chiaki.
"It is! I mean, even after Takeru and I worked out our problems with each other and started talking more often, none of the conversations I had with him were normal at all! To be honest, apart from an occasional smirk, have we ever seen him smile, let alone laugh, even once?"
"Those who are samurai do not just frivolously laugh."
"Well, then sorry if my laughter is frivolous!" Chiaki snapped back at Ryuunosuke as he slapped the Water Samurai's accusing finger away while Mako came over to break up their little squabble as she always does.
"He might be training."
All three turned around to stare at Kotoha with confusion upon hearing what she just said…
Using his better arm, Zenjiro carried a box of water bottles up the steps of the shrine, where Takeru was trying to harness the power of the Kabuto Origami, spinning the disk that had been attached to his Shinkenmaru which caused orange energy to begin swirling around the blade.
No sooner had Zenjiro put the box down did he hear Takeru let out a short but sharp cry of pain, causing him to turn around just in time to see Takeru being sent flying backward while the Shinkenmaru clattered against the ground.
"Oi, Shiba-tono! Ae you alright?" Zenjiro asked as he came to Takeru's side.
"Not enough… I need…" Takeru uttered as he struggled to pick himself up, even with Zenjiro's help.
"What you need right now is rest."
Hikoma, who had came along with Zenjiro, picked up the Shinkenmaru.
"To use the Kabuto Hiden Disk effectively, what you need is double the amount of Mojikara you currently have. Right now, my lord, you are still a distance from achieving it," he explained.
Now back on his feet, Takeru walked over to Hikoma and took the Shinkenmaru back.
"If I stopped because you said something like that, then I'll never be able to use it. Zenjiro here injured himself in order to fix it. If I can't use it, then all his efforts would go to waste," he replied while Zenjiro helped himself to one of the water bottles.
"There's no guarantee that our battles with the Gedoushuu will continue as smoothly as it had been. I need to obtain this new power, otherwise…"
"That's why you remained by yourself to train? Your determination is admirable… But the truth is, you really wanted to go to the amusement park, did you?"
For once, Takeru looked like a deer caught in the headlights as he reacted to what Hikoma just said.
"No, no, no… When you were younger, you always pestered me with 'Take me to the amusement park!' Ah, those memories…"
"Really? Did I?"
Zenjiro snorted trying not to laugh at Takeru's poor attempt to hide his embarrassment.
"Oh, this I got to hear. Ji-san, spill his secrets!" he said.
"Why you…" Takeru started protesting, but Hikoma continued his story.
"When tono-sama wanted to go to the amusement park, he would not stop asking until I took him there. But once we got there, he would get so scared of the rides. He would start going, 'I don't want to ride that! I don't want to ride that!' and start pulling me away. In the end, each time we went, he would only try out one or two of the new, less scary rides. But that is not the best of all. One time, I took him into a haunted house, but he ended up peeing his pants!"
Takeru was mortified as one of his deepest, darkest secrets was revealed, while Zenjiro spat the water he was drinking out before tumbling over laughing wildly.
"BAH HA HA HA! Shiba-tono, who fights hellspawns on a regular basis, wet his pants in a fake-ass haunted house attraction? HA HA HA HA HA!"
"Oh, that was nostalgic," Hikoma commented as he started laughing himself.
"Enough with the stories! You're bothering me!" Takeru complained, now sounding more like a normal young adult than a lord before he caught himself, coughed and reverted back to his 'lord' persona.
"All right, back to training."
Zenjiro was about to say something when the sounds of a bell rining could be heard, which confused Hikoma and Takeru until Zenjiro opened a secret panel in one of the shrine's pillar to reveal a Sukima Sensor inside.
"We have two?" the two asked.
"I made another one connected to the original one back in the mansion, just in case the samurai come up here to train. Number is… Oh, no…"
"Where is it?" Takeru demanded.
"The amusement park where the others went to… Tokyo Dome City Attractions," the blacksmith replied nervously.
Ryuunosuke and the others were enjoying ice cream when they heard screaming from the entrance of the amusement park, followed by what sounded like several gunshots. Throwing their food aside, the four raced to the entrance to find out what was going on…
A humanoid creature with strange red hair growing out from certain parts of his body along with a cape that appears to be part of his body firing an equally strange-looking gun at several fleeing civilians as well as surrounding objects and buildings.
"Everything here is useless! Muda, muda, muda! All these stuff are simply useless!" the creature said out loud, but then his attention was caught by some people huddling near the rubble of a building he had damaged.
Taking aim, he opened fire on the people, but then his bullets were deflected by a a pair of blurs, coloured blue and green.
"What is this? Shinkengers?" the creature asked as Ryuunosuke and Chiaki pointed their blades at him while Mako and Kotoha pointed out an escape route for the people trapped by the rubble.
"Causing all these damage and injuries… Unforgivable, Gedoushuu!" Ryuunosuke said with anger.
"Hmph! Say what you wish to say, and do what you want with me. It's all useless, either way."
"How so?" Chiaki retorted before performing a jumping swing at the Ayakashi.
To the surprise of the samurai, Chiaki's weapon seemed to slip along the Ayakashi's body which appeared to distort the space where the blow should had landed. Caught off-guard, Chiaki gets struck twice by the bayonet attached to the Ayakashi's firearm which caused him to tumble back to the others.
"Chiaki!" the others exclaimed
"I'm fine, but what's with his body?"
Ryuunosuke, Mako and Kotoha rushed forward and attacked the Ayakashi at the same time, but just like what happened with Chiaki earlier, the space around the Ayakashi's body started distorting and their weapons ended up slipping off him, right before the Ayakashi leap backwards and unloaded a few bursts from his firearm at the three, knocking them back as well.
"It's useless! Useless!" the Ayakashi taunted.
"Our weapons aren't working on his body!" Chiaki exclaimed as he got to his feet.
"Not possible! There must be some trick! Let's try again!" Ryuunosuke replied.
"Try all you want! I'll let you know that everything you do to me is ultimately useless," the Ayakashi said as Ryuunosuke and Chiaki performed a flanking attack on him while Mako and Kotoha attacked from the front, only for their multiple slashes to prove, well, useless.
"It really isn't working!" Kotoha cried out.
"It's just slipping past him!" Mako added.
"As I said, your attacks are useless, just like your lives! Disappear already!" the Ayakashi taunted as it somersaulted away from the samurai before opening fire on them.
The first volley knocked the samurais' weapons out of their hands. The second volley tore through them, and the third volley was what finally finished the job, the Shinkengers collapsing to the ground in defeat. Letting out a mocking laugh, the Ayakashi blew the smoke away from his weapon, but then noticed to his surprise that his opponents were still moving.
"Still alive? But it is just a useless effort. You're finished!" he roared as he aimed his weapon at them once more, with the Shinkengers, at a loss of what to do, cowering away.
The Ayakashi was about to pull the trigger when he sensed a hostile presence behind him, turning around just in time to see Takeru about to land a blow on him from the air.
One would expect the leader of the Shinkengers to have a different outcome from the others, but instead, Takeru's attack slipped through the Ayakashi as well, which surprised him but did not deter him from making a few more attempts at attacking.
"Useless! All useless! This is my special ability! All physical attacks are useless against my body!"
"What?" Takeru uttered out loud.
"Are you kidding me? Even Takeru's having trouble with that guy!" Chiaki groaned.
"His body is automatically turning away all attacks made on him," Mako added.
Refusing to give up, Takeru attempted a few more strikes, but suddenly found himself staring down the barrel of the Ayakashi's weapon, who spoke only a single word to Takeru:
At the last second, Takeru backflipped to safety right before the bullets struck him, in the process kicking the weapon hard enough that the Ayakashi nearly dropped it, fumbling about as he tried to get a grip on it. Using the distraction caused, Takeru rallied the others to his side.
"Use Mojikara! Everyone attack simultaneously!" Takeru ordered as he loaded the Shishi Disk to his Shinkenmaru.
The others followed suit, loading their personal Disks into their weapons. As te Ayakashi finally secured his firearm, he turned around only to find the Shinkengers charging up their weapons with their individual elemental energy.
"Shinkenmaru! Gojyuu no Daichi!"
The Ayakashi grunted in pain as he was struck by five energy slashs right in the gut, which also caused him to backpedal several steps. Just when he appeared to have regained balance, small bursts of energy began exploding around his stomach like miniature fireworks, causing him to holler in pain again, but he quickly regained his composure.
"This level of attack is useless as well!" the Ayakasha boasted, although the way his voice sounded made it clear that the combined attack he just took had hurt him quite badly.
"Did we do it?" Ryuunosuke asked.
"USELESS! ALL OF IT IS USELESS! Now I will show you how useless your existence are!" the Ayakashi roared.
In response, Takeru quickly transformed his Shinkenmaru into the Rekka Daizantou before using it as as a shield for himself and the others as the enraged Ayakashi began non-stop firing his firearm at them. As the barrage of bullets continued, Takeru took out the Kabuto Disk and was about to insert it into his weapon when he paused.
What if it fails? Takeru thought to himself, unaware that his unease had been noticed by Mako.
Just then, the Ayakashi stopped firing and began doubling over in pain. The others quickly noticed that parts of his body were losing colour, turning gray and seemingly cracking apart.
"I'm out of Sanzu water? What a truly useless characteristic for us Ayakashi… Shinkengers! Mark my words! Next time, I will be taking your useless lives!" the Ayakashi challenged before walking off and disappearing into a nearby crevice.
The Shinkengers finally let out a sigh of relief from such a difficult battle, although Takeru continued to stare at the Kabuto Disk in his hands…
Having returned to the Shiba Mansion, Hikoma, Zenjiro and the kuroko were shocked by the number of injuries suffered by the four retainers, even though they were only bruises and abrasions that will heal overnight with assistance from Zenjiro's Mojikara, although he insisted on disinfecting them first. Once that was done, the blacksmith quickly browsed through the Shiba Clan records and was soon able to identify the Ayakashi the samurai had faced: Yanasudare (Willow Curtain).
"Completely immune to physical attacks. His weapon, the Ryūshi Rendanjū, used to be like a tanegashima, so he was normally employed for assassinations. He took out quite a number of warriors and high-ranking officials that assisted the Shiba Clan in the past, but after he modified his weapon to a gatling gun following an emergence during the Boshin War in the nineteenth century, he became a frontline warrior," Zenjiro explained as he showed them the image and the information on the book.
"Damn it! What should we do about that Ayakashi?!" Chiaki yelled in anger as he slammed his hands against the railings.
"Blades don't work on him, and neither does Mojikara," Mako added as she joined Chiaki.
"Back then, had the Ayakashi not run out of water…" Ryuunosuke whispered.
"We would have… No, I don't want to think about it!"
Noticing how frightened she was, Zenjiro sat down beside Kotoha and placed one hand on her shoulders as she hide her face in her arms to help her calm down.
"Don't think or say such things, baka. It'll only hut your own morale," he said to the young girl.
Hikoma stood up from his position and walked over towards them.
"Zenjiro is right! You must not say such things! Fear is the greatest enemy at times like this! If you give in to fear and lose your confidence, then you will lose even to an enemy that you can normally defeat! Sometimes in battle, even if you lack power, your feelings will determine whether you win or lose."
"Even if you say that, we just don't have…" Chiaki snapped back but Zenjiro turned and silently indicated for him to calm down.
"Sorry, I just… We don't have the power… Without power, how can we win?" Chiaki continued, his tone softer this time.
"Wrong. We do have the power," Takeru suddenly said as he got off his seat, prompting everyone to turn towards him.
"You're mistaken if you all think Mojikara had no effect on that Ayakashi. Back then, our combined attack caused him quite some damage, though he forced himself not to show his pain."
"But we were not able to defeat him!"
Mako-san… She's just as rattled as Kotoha, Chiaki and Ryuunosuke… This isn't good, Zenjiro thought to himself just as Takeru continued.
"We were merely lacking in Mojikara. We'll use this to gain more power."
Takeru took out the Kabuto Disk and showed it to everyone.
"Tono, what is that Disk?"
"The Shiba Clan had several Hiden Disks in their arsenal, passed down from each generation to the next. However, in several past battles with the Gedoushuu, most of the Hiden Disks had either gone missing, were destroyed or left damaged and unusable," Hikoma explained.
"This Disk contains the Kabuto Origami. It is among the strongest of the Hiden Disks, and quite unfortunately, it is also the only one left in our arsenal, and had been damaged for quite some time until Zenjiro fixed the Disk and revived the Origami. With this Disk, we'll definitely beat that Ayakashi!"
"Is it true?"
"There's hope after all…"
"You guys don't get your hopes too high, though," Zenjiro suddenly said.
"What do you mean?" Ryuunosuke asked.
"To master the use of the Hiden Disk, one's Mojikara level must be twice the current level all of you possess, especially this one."
"Twice?" Chiaki exclaimed in shock.
"No way…" Mako muttered as she sank to her knees beside an equally distraught Ryuunosuke.
"Wait, that means… Zenjiro-kun, you didn't fall down the stairs, you got injured because of that Disk, didn't you?" Kotoha asked as she turned to Zenjiro, who gave her an apologetic look before nodding slowly.
"But how do we even-"
"I'll do it."
All eyes were on Takeru now.
"You guys don't need to worry too much. Tend to your wounds, they're more important."
"Hey, did you just hear what Zenjiro said? Twice the Mojikara, twice! Can you do it?" Chiaki called out as Takeru turned to leave.
"I'm saying that I can! The Hiden Disks had always been used by the heads of the Shiba Clan. Of course I can use it."
"Oh, well, you could have told us that earlier- Wait, actually, you should have used it earlier!"
"The Ayakashi got away before I could use it. Next time, he won't be so lucky," was all Takeru said before he left the room.
Ryuunosuke started singing praises about Takeru and Kotoha's fear was no longer present. Mako, however, remained worried as Chiaki approached her.
"What do you think?"
"Back then, I noticed Takeru took that Disk out, but he appeared to hesitate…"
As Chiaki scratched his head in frustration, Zenjiro silently leaned against a post, deep in thought.
Both Mako-san and Chiaki had already noticed something off about Shiba-tono's words. Still, that lie he made can only reassure Ryuu-san and Kotoha… I can't break my clan's oath, but I don't want to lose any more people… Damn it, what should I do?
Meanwhile, in a corridor and out of sight from the others, Takeru began staring at the Kabuto Disk again.
I said that I can do it, but… Can I? Takeru wondered…
On the Rokumon Junk in the Sanzu River, Shitari was pouring Sanzu River over Yanasudare's body as the Ayakashi regenerated the wound in his stomach.
"How's that? No longer out of water, right?" Shitari asked.
"Hmph… How useless! This is just useless! Our bodies' dependency on the Sanzu River's water prevents us from going all out to wreck havoc… A useless trait indeed!"
"Hey, don't say things like that… We need the Sanzu River's water to survive…" Shitari tried to reassure Yanasudare as Dayu walked by.
"Ignore him, Shitari. Everything is useless to him. I dare say his own life is useless as well," Dayu commented as she sat down and took out her shamisen.
"But not as useless as yours," Yanasudare replied with an insult of his own.
Dayu's first note wasn't just off tone: One could feel the rising anger within Dayu from it as she turned around and glared at Yanasudare with such intensity that an entire army would have fled on the spot.
"What did you just say?"
Intimidated by Dayu's tranquil fury, Yanasudare quickly turned around to avoid looking at her, but as Dayu got up to escalate the confrontation, Chimatsuri Doukoku came walking in.
"Cut it out already, Dayu! You really don't get along with any of the Ayakashi, eh?"
Dayu merely lets out a disgruntled sound before walking away while Doukoku approached Yanasudare.
"Yanasudare, that useless mouth of yours is a big waste compared to your useful ability. Once you're all healed up, go eliminate the Shinkengers. I'm counting on you… Or else…" he growled at the Ayakashi, who merely nodded with fear of what Doukoku would do to him if he failed again…
Hikoma was surprised when Zenjiro came to find him late at night, asking for the Black Shodophone. Apparently, he was worried about a lot of things, ranging from Takeru's lie about using the Kabuto Disk to the others allowing fear to take hold of their hearts again, and he intends on using it as a last resort should things go wrong when Yanasudare shows up again, which, however, would also mean breaking his clan's oath.
At the moment, though, he and Zenjiro had other things to worry about, as within two seconds of Hikoma handing the Black Shodophone to Zenjiro, both of them noticed a particularly large flash of light emitting from the shrine where Zenjiro had repaired the Kabuto Origami, prompting them both to rush over just in time to see Takeru trying to harness the power of the Kabuto Origami with its Disk attached to the Rekka Daizantou.
"What is he doing? He's already all bruised and battered!" Zenjiro asked, with Hikoma staring at Takeru with a worried look as the head of the Shiba Clan is thrown a good distance away from the recoil of another failed attempt.
"No… Not enough… This level of Mojikara is not enough to master using it," Takeru muttered as he struggled back up to his feet and picked up the Rekka Daizantou again before trying to channel the energy from the Kabuto Hiden Disk once more.
"Tono!" Hikoma and Zenjiro cried out in horror as Takeru, once again failing to harness the power of the Hiden Disk, is now thrown against the stairs leading higher into the hills before rolling to the bottom.
As Zenjiro began trying to go to Takeru's aid, Hikoma hesitated for a moment before grabbing Zenjiro's arm and pulling him back.
"Ji! What are you doing?"
"We cannot interfere!"
"He just coughed up blood, for God's sake! Let me heal him!"
"No! If you do so, then he would fail. Increasing Mojikara is a difficult process, and one can only do it by themselves. But if this gives us a fighting chance against that Ayakashi, then that Disk is our only hope!"
Zenjiro gritted his teeth as he is forced to watch Takeru get thrown across the area once again.
"If he keeps this up, how is he going to fight?" he asked.
"Our lord is a lot stronger than you think."
The sound of Takeru being thrown against a pillar is heard, and this time even Hikoma momentarily loses his composure and took a step forward, but then he realized what he was doing and managed to get a grip on Zenjiro, who had nearly slipped out.
"He can't keep going like this!" Zenjiro protested.
"He has to!"
"Zenjiro! Listen to me! If our lord fails to master the Disk, Ryuunosuke and the others, all of whom are not as experienced as you or Takeru, would eventually let their fear take over and put them at a disadvantage! Was that not the reason why you decided to take the Black Shodophone? You, who had to fight off Gedoushuu with just a brush and your bare fists in the past, knew that there was a high chance that they would give in to fear," Hikoma said.
"When Takeru is not around, Mako-san was the one who kept the peace between the others, but now, even she is scared…"
"So you are aware, then? The reason why he cannot tell them the truth is because his strength is the one holding them together, and that strength of his has never let them down, that they can trust their lives in his hands and fight. If they were to see him in such a condition, what do you think would happen? The lord is well aware of that fact. This is why he is training alone. He does not rely on others, that is the eighteenth head of the Shiba Clan!"
Zenjiro reluctantly nodded as he turned away while Hikoma steeled himself and continued watching Takeru's efforts, even as the young lord is once more thrown across the area, his wounds ever increasing…
"Useless! Useless! Muda muda muda muda muda!"
Yanasudare, fully recovered, was on a shooting rampage, blasting at everything in sight and racking up a rather nasty body count in the process.
"This whole word is useless! The terrified screams from you humans are useless as- Yargh!"
Caught in a particularly strong wind with a sweet scent to it created by Mako, Yanasudare is thrown from the ledge he was standing on all the way to the ground. Ryuunosuke, Chiaki and Kotoha joined her as they faced down Yanasudare.
"Shinkengers!" Yanasudare exclaimed.
"Hey, useless!" Chiaki greeted.
"That's far enough, useless," Ryuunosuke threatened.
Yanasudare was caught off-guard by what the male Shinkengers just said, and the distraction gave the samurais time to initiate their transformation.
[天] [木] [水] [土]
"Hey, you stole my line! And as promised, I am taking your useless lives!" the Ayakashi yelled once the realization hit him, but by then, the Shinkengers had already transformed and were coming after him.
Meanwhile, hidden beind a flight of stairs, Zenjiro took out the Black Shodophone and switched it to brush mode as he watched the fight unfold, but the hand holding it was trembling.
Can I really bring myself to break the oath? Damn it… I'm hesitating… I can't do it properly! Zenjiro mentally cursed as he watched Yanasudare begin to overpower the Shinkengers…
Hikoma rushed to the side of an unconscious Takeru, who was still at the shrine but laid out on the ground. Impaled into the ground by a small stick was a note from Zenjiro, telling Hikoma that he had healed most of Takeru's injuries after he lost consciousness and was on his way to assist the others, but still…
With his wounds like this, even if they are mostly healed… Perhaps he should not fight? But as a samurai… As our lord… Hikoma thought as he examined Takeru's injuries but then he noticed something.
The Kabuto Disk was still attached to the Rekka Daizantou, and even though he was unconscious, Takeru still had a vice-like grip on the weapon's hilt. And that was enough to answer Hikoma's inner questionings.
"Tono! Please wake up! It's an Ayakashi, tono!" Hikoma roared at the top of his voice.
Takeru's eyes opened, and he began to stir.
It took Takeru a full twenty seconds to finally get to his feet, and even so, he stumbled and nearly fell forward, using the Rekka Daizantou as a makeshift crutch to stop himself from doing so.
"Time… To clash again…" Takeru whispered.
"Tono, are you…"
Finally able to stand up properly on his own, Takeru turned towards Hikoma and flashed a reassuring smile.
"I am fine, Ji… And I am going to fight."
Chiaki collapsed to the ground, dropping his Wood Spear in the process as Mako and Kotoha struggled to get back up. Seeing his comrades in danger, Ryuunosuke leapt into the air and got ready to fire his Water Arrow for an aerial attack, but Yanasudare saw through it and blasted him in midair, causing him to fall to the ground.
As Ryuunosuke got to his knees, he found Yanasudare aiming his firearm point blank at his face.
"This time for sure, you useless punks are finished!" Yanasudare declared.
Ryuunosuke said nothing, but simply bent his head forward slightly, as though he had accepted his coming demise. From his hiding place, Zenjiro could no longer watch it go on. As he emerged and braced himself to write his personal character, he once again hesitated and his hand began trembling again.
No! Not at a time like this! Zenjiro thought, but then a red blur suddenly swooped past him and knocked the firearm out of Yanasudare's hands.
Zenjiro turned to see the kuroko carrying the Shiba Clan's banners and realized Takeru had arrived, sighing with relief before disappearing into the shadows as the head of the Shiba Clan stepped forward.
"You are the one who is going to be finished today, Gedoushuu!" Takeru said to Yanasudare, who had just retrived his firearm.
Instead of firing at Takeru, the Ayakashi decided to take time to taunt him.
"Hey, look at this! I thought you ran away with your useless tail between your legs, but here you are, looking to get killed."
Yanasudare and the other Shinkengers watched as Takeru transformed into…
"ShinkenRed, Shiba Takeru! Going forth!"
Backflipping over Yanasudare, Takuer quickly made distance between him and the Ayakashi before transforming his Shinkenmaru into the Rekka Daizantou. He then readied the weapon by resting it on one shoulder while staring straight at Yanasudare without flinching.
"Useless struggles and a useless challenge, but I'll accept it as a fellow warrior. I'll be your opponent," Yanasudare said.
As Ryuunosuke and the others watched, a Mexican stand-off had occurred between Takeru and Yanasudare, neither one willing to make the first move although Yanasudare begins proviking Takeru.
"Hey, come on! Are you not going to attack?"
"Oi, Takeru, you need to hurry up!" Chiaki called out.
"Tono-sama! The Ayakashi is planning to attack soon!" Kotoha added.
Instead, Takeru wordlessly opened a compartment on his belt where extra disks, shrunken using Mojikara, were stored, and was about to take out the Kabuto Disk that was inside when he froze.
"Takeru… Something's definitely wrong," Mako said when she noticed his actions.
"Hey! I thought you said you were going to finish me off?" Yanasudare taunted again, though he sounded annoyed this time.
"Well, if you ain't going to attack with that useless weapon of yours, then I'll strike first!"
No sooner had Yanasudare uttered those words and started charging towards Takeru did Takeru finally moved, and moved quickly he did. In three seconds, he had the Kabuto Disk attached to the weapon, spun it into a ready position and was already charging up energy from the Kabuto Disk. The flames emitting from the Rekka Daizantou was not just hot, it also also generating another form of energy from the Kabuto Disk. Yanasudare had the misfortune of being too close to the flames and ended up partially burnt.
As for Takeru, he was struggling to keep his balance and maintain his grip on the Rekka Daizantou. He could be heard growling in pain by the other Shinkengers, but then his weapon suddenly began changing its form, transforming from an abnormally large sword to a sportable cannon.
"Rekka Daizantou! Oozutsu Mode!"
The Shinkengers watched in awe at the new form of Takeru's weapon until he held his Shishi Disk up.
"Guys, I need to borrow your strength! Lent me your personal Disks!"
"Be careful with it!"
"Here you go!"
Each Shinkenger loaded their personal Disk onto a slot on top of the Rekka Daizanto before stepping back and getting down on one knee while Takeru aimed the weapon at Yanasudare, who had managed to put out the fires threatening to burn him only to see the Shinkengers already about to shoot him.
"What was that?" he asked as Takeru took aim while the other Shinkengers got down on one knee behind him.
"Kabuto Gourindan! Seibai!"
Takeru fired an orange energy ball from his weapon, which slowly formed into the appearance of a kabutomushi as it surged forward at high speeds.
"Whatever it is, it's useless as well!" Yanasudare said as he fired his weapon at the approaching attack, which melted the bullets that passed by it before striking Yanasudare in the stomach.
"Oh, just the stomach? I'll show you what I'm made- Wait, what is this? No!"
The Kabuto Gorindan literally exploded out the back of Yanasudare, leaving a gaping hole in through his body while the excess energy literally ripped through the rest of his body.
"NO! It's not possible!" Yanasudare screamed right before he exploded into smithereens.
"Alright! Fist life beaten!"
"That was incredible, tono-sama!"
Takeru did not join in on the cheers of his comrades, instead becoming deep in thought, but then the Ayakashi's second life triggered.
"HOW DARE YOU BASTARDS!" the now-giant Yanasudare roared.
Quickly, the Shinkengers took out their individual Origami and prepared for battle with the giant Ayakashi.
Almost immediately when the Origamis had enlarged, the Shinkengers initiated their combination.
"Samurai Gattai! Shinken-Oh, United under Providence!"
Shinken-Oh drew its sword and attempted to cut down Yanasudare, but…
"Useless! Utterly useless! Even though I am in my second life, I am still immune to your katana!" Yanasudare taunted as Shinken-Oh's blade slipped through his body before blasting away at the mecha, causing it to stumble backwards before the accumulated damage to one of its legs caused it to drop to one knee.
"This is bad!" Chiaki yelled as Yanasudare laughed at the plight of his opponents.
"It's hopeless! Without Mojikara, we can't…"
Ryuunosuke was cut off by another barrage of gunfire from Yanasudare, who slowly advanced towards the fallen Shinken-Oh…
"Shit! How the hell are they supposed to fight him like this?" Zenjiro cursed as he watched the battle unfold, but then he felt something struggling to get out of one of his jacket's pocket.
"Fukurou Origami? What's wrong?" he asked as his Origami flew out of his pocket, chirping and hooting wildly while flying around Zenjiro and seemingly using its beak to point at Yanasudare.
"Wait, you want to fight?"
The Fukurou Origami nodded.
"In that case…" Zenjiro muttered as he took out a brush and wrote the single character on top of the Fukurou Origami as it transformed back into its Emblem Form:
"Look! Isn't that…"
Kotoha pointed to the approaching Fukurou Origami, which was now enlarged and headed straight for Yanasudare.
"Fukurou Origami? But isn't that Zenjiro's Origami?" Mako asked.
"Yeah, but look! Zenjiro's still on the ground, so who's piloting it?" Ryuunosuke questioned as he pointed out the window at Zenjiro, who was standing at an overhead bridge watching things unfold.
"I think it's moving on its own…" Chiaki commented.
Meanwhile, the Fukurou Origami swung both wings at Yanasudare, sending explosive metal feathers towards the Ayakashi. While not hurting the Ayakashi much, the attack was able to pin him down for a moment and send him into a daze. As Yanasudare tried to clear his head, the Fukurou Origami grabbed him by the shoulders and lifed him into the air, screeching once before dropping him back to the ground, causing a huge crater to form where he landed. Using this distraction, Shinken-Oh managed to finish auto-repairing the damage on its leg and got back up to its feet.
It was at this point Takeru's Shodophone began ringing.
"Zenjiro?" he asked in surprise upon seeing the name of the caller before answering.
"Takeru! That Ayakashi's only immune to direct physical attacks! Grappling moves and Mojikara-based attacks work well on him, and the Kabuto Origami's combat speciality is in both these fields, so…"
"The Kabuto Origami is this guy's natural enemy? Thanks, now we know we can beat him."
Hanging up, Takeru held out the Kabuto Disk.
"Now, we'll witness the true power of the Kabuto Disk!" he said to the others before withdrawing his Shinkenmaru from its slot and exiting the cockpit, emerging on the right shoulder of Shinken-Oh while a recovered Yanasudare stared at him in surprise.
"What are you doing, standing there like that?" he demanded.
Instead of replying, Takeru inserted the Kabuto Disk into his Shinkenmaru, spun the disk and raised it into the air.
To everyone's surprise, an orange Origami resembling a Japanese rhinocerous beetle emerged from the disk, growing bigger in size until it was about the same as the Shinkenger's enlarged Origami as it landed in front of Shinken-Oh, rotating its head in a corkscrew motion.
"A kabutomushi!" Kotoha exclaimed
"I knew Zenjiro could store things inside the disks but a whole Origami?" Ryuunosuke commented.
"Actually, I believe it was already in that disk..." Mako explained.
"Doesn't matter, it's still amazing!" Chiaki said excitedly.
Leaping from the shoulder of Shinken-Oh, Takeru teleported into the cockpit of the Kabuto Origami and took control. The Kabuto Origami's head began rotating faster, and so did the disk that formed part of its body as it began marching towards Yanasudare.
"Kabuto Origami, going forth!"
Yanasudare started shooting at the Kabuto Origami, which no-selled the attack as it opened its horns and grabbed the Aykashi's leg, flipping him so hard that he did not just fall over, but was actually thrown a good distance away. Meanwhile, the Kabuto Origami returned to Shinken-Oh's side.
"That small bug is strong, but it is still useless! Oonanashi-renju, come out!" Yanasudare ordered.
Several giant Nanashi emerged, but their front row archers were immediately decimated by the Kabuto Origami firing a beam of energy from its horns, causing the others to start freaking out.
"This is where the real battle begins! Samurai Busou!" Takeru announced as he spun the Kabuto Disk.
To everyone's surprise, the Fukurou Origami, which had been flying about, suddenly swooped down and picked up the Kabuto Origami. It then flipped the insect-based Origami into the air so that the latter landed on top of its back, effectively combining both Origamis before soaring towards Shinken-Oh and began splitting into parts.
The Fukurou Origami's head folded into its body as it gripped onto the back of Shinken-Oh using its talons, with most of the Kabuto Origami's body still attached to it like a heavy backpack. The wings attached themselves to the arms of Shinken-Oh like a pair of arm blades while the Kabuto's legs formed the pauldrons. Finally, the Kabuto Origami's head replaced Shinken-Oh's helmet, completing the combination.
"Kabuto Shinken-Oh, united under Providence!" Takeru declared.
"Wait, I've moved forward? And there's an empty panel right here."
The others turned and noticed that Ryuunosuke's panel had indeed moved forward, positioning him exactly beside Takeru, while an empty panel now resides on Kotoha's left.
"Could it be for him?" Kotoha asked
"What is this?" Chiaki asked as well.
"Explanations later, focus on the enemy for now," Takeru replied.
Everyone turned their attention back on the Gedoushuu, with Shinken-Oh pointing its sword at the Oonanashi, all of whom flinched and took a step back.
"Don't falter, you useless pawns! Attack!" Yanasudare ordered.
The Oonanashi archers took aim and fired.
Heeding Takeru's command, Shinken-Oh fired three beams of energy from its new helmet, destroying the arrows headed its way and also taking out the archers. The melee Oonanashis charged forward, but Shinken-Oh swiftly sliced its way through them, with the Kabuto Origami's legs that are now its pauldrons serving as extra blades to take down any of the Oonanashi that were not struck by its sword. It then turned around and fired another triple beam, blasting away the surviving Oonanashi until none were left before turning again to face Yanasudare.
"What is this? But never mind, for your blade can never cut me!" Yanasudare said.
"That is true," Takeru replied as he had Shinken-Oh sheath its blade.
"You're keeping away your weapon? As useless as a sitting duck!"
Yanasudare fired at Shinken-Oh, but the Kabuto helmet fired its triple beam attack again, blasting Yanasudare off his feet and destroying his firearm as well.
"My weapon!" the Ayakashi roared in pain.
"We'll finish you without our blade! Everyone, get ready!"
Shinken-Oh got down on one knee and braced itself as the Kabuto helmet closed up, covering the mecha's entire head. Meanwhile, inside its cockpit, the Shinkengers had drawn their Shinkenmarus
"Kabuto! Daikaiten Hou!" everyone commanded together as they spun the disks on their Shinkenmaru.
The horns of the Kabuto helmet began spinning rapidly as energy began building up in them while Yanasudare, suddenly realizing the useless position he was in, could only gasp in fear.
The Shinkengers thrusted their weapons forward, and Kabuto Shinken-Oh fired a huge energy ball from its helmet at Yanasudare.
"How futile I was!" were the last words of Yanasudare as the energy ball blasted its way through his body, dissipating as it emerged from his back right before he screamed and exploded while Shinken-Oh posed victoriously.
"This brings this act to a close!" Takeru declared.
"Yes! We did it!"
Instead of sharing in the celebrations of his teammates, Takeru was once again deep in thought as he stared at the Kabuto Disk…
"I swear, I had no idea my Fukurou Origami was responsible for combining the other auxiliary Origami to Shinken-Oh. Looks like I'll have to accompany you guys to the field for every battle now, do I?" Zenjiro said as he and the samurai walked down the stairs.
"Yeah, and it'll be dangerous bringing someone who can fight but can't transform with us, but since you're good at hiding in the shadows, I guess we do not have to worry too much," Ryuunosuke replied.
"But an extra panel appeared in the cockpit when we did that combination… I think it was meant for you, Zenjiro," Chiaki commented.
"An extra panel? No way. Maybe for the Kabuto?"
"Nah, it was marked with a black trapezium, like your Origami."
"Then that means Zenjiro-kun must be a samurai as well! You should fight alongside us!" Kotoha said to Zenjiro, who merely scratched his head.
"I'm no samurai… But I am already fighting alongside you guys. I maintain your equipment in tip-top shape so that you can go into battle without worrying about equipment failure, heal your wounds and help the kuroko evacuate civilians so you do not have to worry about casualties. What more do you need?"
"But are you certain you are content remaining as a blacksmith? Or maybe it's your clan's history?" Mako asked.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Just a thought based on a whim, no need to worry about that."
"Speaking of whim, what about you guys' day off? I mean, that muda muda guy ruined it for you all, and he didn't even go 'Wryyyy' when he exploded…" Zenjiro asked.
"Oh, right! About that, tono-sama, let's go to the amusement park together this time!" Kotoha said to Takeru cheerfully.
"Since it was ruined, we should redo our day off!" Ryuunosuke said in agreement.
"Nope. I'm fine with it. You guys go on ahead and enjoy yourselves. Zenjiro can come with you this time. I'm going back home first," Takeru replied curtly, not even turning his head to look at them before he walked off, leaving the others to wonder why he insisted on not joining them.
"I dunno, man. He really is hard to grasp," Chiaki complained.
"Or rather… He's trying to avoid getting caught, right?" Mako asked as she nudged Zenjiro with her elbow, with the blacksmith sighing, letting out a defeated smile and nodding.
The other three samurai stared at Mako and Zenjiro, but Mako began walking ahead of the others.
"Don't worry about it. It was just a feeling, nothing more," she told the others, who merely looked at each other, then at Zenjiro as they suspect he knew what she was talking about, but the blacksmith merely shrugged before following Mako, prompting them to give up trying to figure out what was going on and followed as well.
Hikoma was waiting at the stairs of the shrine behind the Shiba Mansion as Takeru, who was actually getting weaker and weaker with each step, finally arrived.
"Ji…" was all Takeru could muster out before he started to collapse.
"Tono! Tono!" Hikoma called out in worry as he rushed over and managed to catch Takeru from falling over.
"To be honest… I was really afraid… If I had failed, it would all have been over…"
Hikoma thought back to Takeru's childhood as the young lord spoke to him with a quivering voice he had not heard for so long, realizing that at the moment, it was not Shiba Takeru, eighteenth head of the Shiba Clan, that was in his arms, but the frightened young boy who, at the age of seven, was forced to take up a huge responsibility for the sake of the entire world.
"You did well, tono… You have done well," Hikoma said to Takeru, who let out a small smile before passing out, the strain from his injuries as well as the amount of energy required to control the Kabuto Origami finally taking its toll on him…
The eighteenth head of the Shiba Clan is still young, but carries a heavy burden.
As long as he continues wearing his mask, when will the other five finally see his true face?
Shinkengers Act 5 ends here…