Chapter 4: Betting All or Nothing

As Shotaro returned to normal following the end of the explosion caused by the Money Dopant, he made his way towards his unconscious intern. "Ben! Oi, Ben! Are you okay?"

"Nngh...five more minutes Grandpa..." Ben groaned, though he shook his head to clear his mind as he saw Shotaro. "I'm alright, Shotaro. Just a little loopy, but I'm okay for the most part."

"Good," Shotaro sighed in relief, seeing that his friend hadn't been that badly injured, but that was when gold-rimmed visions flooded his mind. Images of a family walking by the beach flashed before him. "His family," Shotaro muttered under his breath.

"Something up?" Ben asked, noting Shotaro almost frozen in space.

"I get the feeling that Philip is not going to be particularly happy when he wakes up after this," Shotaro mused.


Indeed, within the hanger of the agency, Philip had woke up, and chose violence. Huffing like he'd run a marathon, he aimlessly stumbled about, his eyes wide and irises shrunk. Wandering around, he whimpered as the lack of familial memories struck like a dagger to the heart. In a cry of primal fury, he shoved the contents from a nearby table to the floor, all of them clattering like the beads in a rainstick. His breathing hitched as he crashed into a nearby pillar, eyes still wide.


'Why were Shotaro and Ben so eager to keep me out? This is so easy!' Akiko wondered as she perused through Million Coloseo for Yūko. She had to make sure that witch appreciated her parents. Besides, she was eager to teach her a lesson after she knocked Ben away. No one hurt her employees and got away with it! Looking around, she finally acquired her target as she made her way to a nearby card table where a game of blackjack began. Dragging their clients' away from the thieving table, Akiko shook her, attempting to see if she could shake away the gold fever infecting her.

"You!" Yūko said as she recognized her acquaintance. "You're that loud mouth detective accompanying that interfering gaijin! What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Hurry up and get home!" Akiko ordered as she kept shaking Yūko. "This place isn't heaven! You're walking right into hell!"

"Shut up! Why'd I want to leave now?" Yūko angrily said as she shook away from Akiko's grasp. "This is the big game I've been waiting for! And you're not spoiling this for me!"

"Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome, one and all!" A haughty voice rang out, and Akiko remembered Ben's description of the man, and "ostentatious" and "flashy" were far too kind of words to call him by. The man, even from simple glances, reeked of dirty money, with his gold jewels, black suit, and slick hair. "I am the head of the heavenly casino, Million Coloseo! I am Kaga Taizo!" The spotlight shined upon him, much to raucous applause and joy. "One of you lucky souls has earned the right to challenge me to a game of chance! Win, and riches beyond measure will be yours! That courageous challenger is...!" The spotlight spun around as the sound of drumrolls rang out before it shined on Yūko. "...Izumi Yūko!" As Yūko smiled with her in the spotlight, Akiko was backing up, realizing that Yūko was happily strolling into a lion's den.


"What - cough, cough- happened with - cough, cough- Philip?" Ben asked, clutching an ice pack to his head, seeing Philip in a restless. He'd still felt a bit woozy after the Money Dopant fight, but still felt okay otherwise.

"His family," Shotaro explained, Philip waking up in response to this. "It's the one question not even the Gaia Library can answer, even with all the information on Earth." Walking towards Philip, he continued. "Your past. That's what's been bugging you in this case."

"Are you making fun of me?!" Philip angrily stood up, turning away from his partner.

"No," Shotaro countered. "I'm not. No one's perfect. Supporting each other's lives is the true game of life."

"I bet that's another line you took from Narumi Sokichi," Philip mused.

"Oh!" Shotaro huffed as he clutched his head. "How did you know?"

"Stop it!" Philip demanded. "Stop acting like you're my brother. You're only making things worse." With that, he fell to the nearby cot and readied for a nap.

"That being from his mentor doesn't make it any less true, Philip," Ben noted. "Back home, I needed the help of my cousin Gwen and her boyfriend Kevin. She's smarter than me, and Kevin's stronger and more experienced with the criminal side than either of us. We backed each other up and supported one another." Hearing that, Philip scoffed and turned his back towards the other two in the room.

"Let it go, Ben," Shotaro advised as he slumped back in his chair. "Better to let his feelings simmer and cool before getting through to him." At that moment, the Stag Phone rang, the "hardboiled" detective quickly picking it up. "I'm busy right now."

"Hello? This is the chief! Please pick up!" Akiko's voice rang out, making Shotaro shoot up.

"Akiko!" Shotaro shouted, catching the attention of Ben, who quickly ran towards Shotaro. "Where are you?!"

"I've made my way into Million Coloseo!" Akiko revealed

"What did you say?!" Ben grabbed the phone from Shotaro, much to the detective's surprise as the two wrestled over the phone like dogs with a bone. "Have you lost your marbles?"

"No, I haven't!" Akiko huffed at her intern's accusation. "But this place is completely odd."

"Yeah, no duh!" Ben pointed out. "It's run by the smuggest money bag I've even met! Quite literally, too!"

"Beyond that, Ben-kun!" Akiko said. "I'm going to relay the footage, so why don't you have a look at it?" The sounds of clicking ran out, and the two heard the activation of a certain Memory Gadget.

BAT!

The two saw that the BatShot had managed to fly up to the ceiling of the casino, something the footage overlooking the area made abundantly clear as it got a look at the roulette game Yūko was invested in. "Why did that middle schooler's work have to pay off at a time like this?" Shotaro huffed as he viewed the footage.

"Black 13! Come on! Come one!" Yūko pleaded the plastic sphere to land on. Unfortunately, physics and probability proceeded to plant the plastic ball in Red 23. At this, a nearby croupier raked away all the chips she'd hedged her bets on. "No way!" Yūko's face was fraught with despair and sadness, her hands reaching up to her head in utter disblief. "But I had a hundred million yen staked on that!" Ben recalled how bratty and rude she'd been, but he still couldn't help but feel bad for her. Of course, Taizo had all the empathic ability of obsidian, and walked towards her with another offer.

"Would you like to offer the last of your life as collateral?" He slimily suggested. "The final stage's rate is multiplied by 100. If you win, you'll win back all your money and then some!" In his hand was something that made Ben and Shotaro's breath hitch: a Life Coin.

When that happened, it was as if some switch had been flipped in Yūko's brain. Her expression of despair gave way to one of impulsive elation. "I...I'll do it! I'll take my chances!" With that, she snatched the Life Coin out of Kaga's hand, and Ben could only feel his blood turn to ice as he remembered what happened to poor Murasame. "Come on! Red 25! Come on! Come on! COME ON!" With each repetition, she slammed the table as if it would increase her chances. At that moment, Philip walked up and began viewing the footage himself.

"She's not getting it is she?" Ben already figured.

"Correct, Ben," Philip confirmed. "It's going to land on Red 36."

"Shouldn't that mean something if the color matches?" Ben wondered.

"Not in this case," Shotaro explained. "Since she hedged it all on Red 36, that's the only result that'll matter. If she chose to go for just the red, she'd have won since the color would match, but it wouldn't have given nearly as much money, and Million Coloseo seems to be the kind of casino to encourage highly specific bets."

"Oh. Yeah, can't say I'm that much of a gambler, so I'm new to all this, sorry," Ben sheepishly rubbed his head in response.

Indeed, Red 36 was where the ball went, and when their clients' daughter saw this, she fell like she was a puppet whose strings had been cut. Kaga chuckled his sadistic snicker as he pulled out his Gaia Memory. "And you're done!"

MONEY!

Activating the Gaia Memory, he planted it into the port-like tattoo on his neck, transforming into the Money Dopant once again.

At this, Yūko held her hand up began to plead her case. "Wait a minute, please! I'll win! I'll be lucky this time for sure!"

"231. 457. And 156." The Money Dopant snickered.

"What?" Yūko asked in confusion.

"That's how many times you loser dogs have told me those ridiculous phrases. Frankly, it gets annoying to hear you all whimpering and pleading, so I made a game out of how many times I've heard losers like you say certain phrases to me!" The Money Dopant continued to laugh, making Ben growl like an angry dog. "If I'm remembering things correctly, you only got into gambling because your parents' restaurant was about to go into bankruptcy..." Yūko's lips quivered at this, as memories began flooding forth. "At first, you truly did this for your parents, but somewhere along the way, the glint of money blinded you." Ben's fury continued to bubble as Kaga kept cackling. "It's all too common among your kind. And now, I'm going to collect my payment...in full!" With that, he planted the Life Coin into her chest, having it glow gold.

"Father...mother..." Yūko could only whimper, tears almost about to fall from her eyes as she finally fell unconscious, Shotaro, Ben, and Philip's gazes all fixed on the view on the Stag Phone.

Akiko couldn't take it, and readied her weapon of choice, clonking the Dopant on the head and crying out, "That's bullshit!"

BONK!

"Akiko!" Shotaro shouted in shock as he grabbed the phone.

"What the heck?" Ben cried out as he grabbed his hair as all his boiling fury evaporated, all while Philip chuckled at Akiko's audacity.


Meanwhile, with the Sonozakis, Saeko was having the finishing touches on her wedding dress done, looking in the mirror and smiling.

"Saeko-sama is so beautiful!" One of her servants proudly complimented. Getting up, she tested for she'd be walking in them. Her fiancé, on the other hand, was taking a stroll outside the mansion, only to be faced with the Sonozaki patriarch under one of the many balconies of the mansion.

"Father," He said politefully, earning a small smile from his future father-in-law.

"Kirihko-kun," The patriach politely responded before walking towards him. "Before the ceremony...do you mind me punching you?"

Kirihiko gave a light chuckle at this as he walked down the stairs. "It's just like one of the home dramas, isn't it? Is it because your daughter is being taken from you by one of your employees?"

The father was unperturbed by this, letting out a chuckle of his own as he planted a hand on Kirihiko's shoulders. That was when he pulled out a golden Gaia Memory, where its emblem was a pair of closed eyes and a mouth similar to that of The Scream, all redesigned to resemble a capital T.

TERROR!

After activating his Gaia Memory, an act that made Kirihiko's eyes widen, he began to monologue. "The members of the Sonozaki family are the center pieces of our museum." Walking away from him as he readied to become what would be an undoubtedly terrifying Dopant, he continued. "We are the city's...nay...We are the rulers of all of humanity." That was when his offer was revealed. "I will allow the ceremony to commence, but that will depend on whether you have mastered the power of the Nazca Memory."

"Father," Wakana's voice rang out, the two men looking to see her standing above them in the balcony. "Allow me to test him for you." With this, she pulled out another gold Gaia Memory, but emblazoned on this one was a symbol reminiscent of a crescent moon, but etched like runic patterns on clay, made to resemble a C.

CLAYDOLL!

Tossing it into the air, she attached her own silver belt, but the buckle instead lay on the small of her back. Jumping off, she let the Gaia Memory socket into the belt, transforming her into the claydoll figure that had chuckled at him during his initiation. "I just love breaking the spirits of arrogant men!" Her father laughed when she let out a rather sadistic giggle at the thought.


Having taken off her mask, the Money Dopant had a good luck at his assailant. Akiko had all the physical threat of a Chihuahua, and she was certainly about as loud as one. "Who are you, little missy?"

Defiant, she held out her green slipper like a knife, trying to look intimidating. "The chief of the detectives who love this city!"

Chuckling, the Money Dopant flicked her slipper like he was swatting a fly. "I'll admit. That's a new phrase. But I can't just let you go. It seems you'll need to pay for trespassing...in full!" With that, he pulled out yet another Life Coin. Akiko turned around, holding her slipper close to her, but tripping near Yūko.

"I-if you do something t-to me..." she stuttered, trying her best to keep her nervous steady. "...my subordinates are going to m-make you pay!"

"Subordinates?" The Money Dopant quizzically tilted his head.

"Y-yeah! One is..." Her thoughts turned to Shotaro. "...not very reliable. Another is..." Her mind flew to Ben. "...not that experienced." That was when her train of thought stopped on Philip. "But the third is a super genius. One who'd beat you hollow!" Shotaro, Ben, and Philip had heard what she'd said, and all three had differing reactions.

"That idiot! Damn it!" Shotaro planted his face into his hand as Philip snatched the Stag Phone. "What does she mean? I'm unreliable?"

"And I'm not that much of a newbie!" Ben pointed out. "I've been in the hero gig since I was 10!"

Philip ignored their complaints as he took the phone and readied to call her.

"Beat me hollow?" The Money Dopant grabbed her neck at the assertion that he would lose. "So where is this genius? Curled away like a lost lamb?" At that moment, Akiko's phone rang. When she saw the caller ID, she picked it up and held out to the Dopant's...ear?

"This is the super genius," Philip revealed himself. "I'm happy to come to you, and I'd like to join you in a game soon, so just wait."

"What?" The Money Dopant asked, hints of intrigue and surprise tinging his voice.

"I'm saying that you've got a new customer!" Philip continued. That made Shotaro stand up, as did Ben.

"Oi, Philip!" Shotaro pointed out. "This isn't the time to try out gambling!"

"I can determine where the ball will land as long as I know the speed it starts with," Philip explained. "It won't be a big deal." Shotaro shook his head at this

"Bad idea. How much are you willing to stake on him not trying to pull some dirty trick?" Ben argued.

"Don't you worry about that," The Money Dopant assured them. "There wouldn't be any fun in a rigged game, so I don't even bother. Besides, your method to provoke is fascinating. No one's spoken to me like that before." With that, he shoved Akiko into the roulette table, an action that continued to infuriate Ben. "But what's in it for me?"

"We've got six Gaia Memories." Philip's answer had both Ben and Shotaro's eyes widen like saucers.

"Alright then," The Money Dopant agreed. "I'll have someone pick you up, so stay sharp!" With that, he chuckled as Life Coins rained from his belly button and two other holes on his lower stomach. In time, the slimy face of Kaga returned to vision. "My apologies, ladies and gentlemen, but I'm afraid we'll be closing early tonight." Murmurs of disappointment resonated within the crowd as Kaga turned to Akiko. "So let's see how good your super-genius is!" At this, Akiko stayed resolute, giving him a thumbs down.


Kirihiko didn't really know what his customer was doing, but neither could he really afford to care, considering that Wakana, as the Claydoll Dopant, was firing pinkish energy orbs at him. It was taking some rather impressive acrobatic action to avoid the onslaught. Nevertheless, Kirihiko remained resolute, quickly managing to stand up and face his opponent in the eye.

"Faking composure, eh?" Wakana taunted. "One touch from me, and you're dead!"

"I'm not faking anything," Kirihiko calmly fired back, brushing his white tuxedo. "This composure is genuine..." Remembering her previous attitude, he let out a taunt of his own. "Wakana-chan~!" With that, her eyes glowed an ominous black-and-purple, and she to charge orange energy in her right first, all the while Kirihiko pulled out a gold Gaia Memory of his own, this time bearing the emblem of a glyph-like N.

NAZCA!

With him putting on a silver belt and inserting the Gaia Memory before she made contact, more of the assailant could be noted, mainly his blue armor. When Wakana struck, not only did the armor absorb the blow, but Kirhiko didn't even flinch. Her father began to clap at this, turning to face the two of them, who'd since turned back to normal. Chuckling, he acknowledged, "Looks like I have to say you've passed." While Wakana walked away and huffed up, Kirihiko smiled and humbly bowed before his soon to be father-in-law.


Shotaro and Ben, having decided to get a moment of peace before they went to the fabled casino, went out to view the sea before them, sitting on some nearby stairs.

"So, can we talk about the elephant in the room?" Ben decided to break the ice.

"Yes," Shotaro nodded. "Philip himself knows it." All the while, Ben could overhear Philip mentioning keywords like 'roulette', 'history', and 'probability', most likely in the midst of another look up. "Somewhere in his mind, he's stuck on family." The two gazed at a young girl running from her mother and brother to her father's arms.

"Yeah, but he's put your Gaia Memories on the line, and if he freezes up like he did back there..." Ben gulped at the idea of that money grubber torching houses as a Heat Dopant or shooting out power as a Trigger Dopant for a protection racket.

Shotaro began scratching his back in response, before letting out a huff of frustration. "Damn it! What would the boss say in this case?" With that, the detective fell to the floor of the stairs, covering his eyes with his hat.

Ben would've said something, but someone else spoke up before him, with a phrase he'd not expect in this time. "Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christ-huh what?" Ben and Shotaro automatically answered before snapping to attention. With that, Ben was faced with the oddest human he'd seen thus far. This was a middle aged man dressed in a Santa Claus-esque attire, wearing a red hat and cloak and carrying a bag full of...something like jolly old Saint Nick, but wearing purple-lensed sunglasses, red sneakers, and blue shorts, also holding up a very colorful sign.

"Oh. It's Santa-chan," Shotaro realized as he woke up. "Santa-chan, I don't believe you've met my friend, have you? This is Ben Tennyson, a tourist from America."

"Umm...hi," Ben answered simply.

"Well it's very nice to meet you, but it's no good of Shotaro is gloomy!" Santa-chan smiled as he began rummaging through his bag. "So here you go! A fun Christmas present! Babababababa, here you go!" With that, he handed a small white bag to Shotaro, before turning to Ben. "And a little something from my travels in America, a toy popular there years ago!" Ben's eyes widened when he saw what was in the bag: a toy of Fiery Buddy still in its original packaging, the bootleg Heatblast reminding Ben of the Kangaroo Kommnado battle between brothers he'd found himself in Hollywood.

"But...it's September," Shotaro pointed out while Ben's words had completely vanished as he looked at the rapping animated faux-Pyronite.

"Ah, don't worry about it!" Santa-chan gladly said in return. With that, the brother of the nearby family noticed Santa-chan, calling his name, and soon, numerous kids began to run towards him. With that, the odd man began to run, calling for the kids to follow him, all the while whoops and cheers were heard trailing him. Shotaro had since pulled out the contents of the bag, revealing them to be nothing but simple kid's toys, including a pack of cards.

"He always gives me something, but one of these days I wish he'd bring me a girlfriend," Shotaro noted as he began to ponder again.

"I'm just more surprised that some people still like Super Alien Hero Buddy Adventures," Ben noted, remembering how...odd it'd been to be called Handy Buddy as Four Arms. "What've they been doing?" Before Shotaro could answer that query, the honking of a bus rang out. At once, the three saw the bus that brought its passengers to Million Coloseo pull up and open its doors. With that, Shotaro pulled is hat down, Ben straightened out his jacket, and Philip walked over, head entrenched in his book.

As they rode the bus, Philip recounted his plan. "I've read all the world's books on guaranteed gambling wins. All you two need to do is watch."

Shotaro walked up to him before suddenly huffing and grabbing the bus's hand rails, while Ben decided to point out something. "Yeah, but you've not actually gambled, have you? There's a difference between reading about doing something and actually doing out, Philip."

"I know, but they don't know anything about me, so they shouldn't be able to rattle me with any cheap hot or cold reads," Philip confidently assured Ben. When the bus stopped, all three quickly got out to the thick metal door before them, which quickly slid open as the attendant respectfully bowed before the new guests.

"Okay, we're here to waste this place," Shotaro proudly announced, cracking his knuckles.

"Time for some payback for all you've done to the people of the city," Ben agreed as he cracked his neck.

Philip had no such declaration as he simply walked into the middle of the casino. "Hey!" Shotaro and Ben both called out.

"Philip-kun, I've been waiting for you!" Akiko happily cried as she ran to the genius before giving him a thumbs up. "I'm counting on you!"

"Just wait! I'll take him down!" Philip confidently assured.

"This child is your super-genius? You're placing all your faith in this...NEET?" Kaga spoke, not even bothering to face him before turning around. "But alright then. Welcome to my Million Coloseo!"

Shotaro sputtered at the lack of acknowledgement. "So just ignore us then?"

"Yeah, what are we, Akiko? Chopped liver?" Ben asked the chief, who tilted her head in confusion at the idiom. Seeing her trying to help the unconscious Yūko, the two decided to try helping her out, Akiko and Ben getting water while Shotaro used his hat to fan her. All the while, Kaga and Philip set up their roulette game. Philip had strewn out the six Gaia Memories he and Shotaro had as Double, while Kaga had stacked 60 Life Coins into 6 stacks of 10 each.

"Here's what I'm betting," Kaga spoke, holding the Life Coin of Yūko before placing it atop the stack closest to the wheel. "One stack of Life Coins for one of your Gaia Memories. This is a six vs six game."

"Understood," Philip simply spoke to acknowledge the rules, pushing the Gaia Memories forward. With that, Kaga nodded to the employee by the roulette wheel, whereupon he began to spin the wheel and set the ball in motion.

'This table is an 1880 autumn state. Factoring in the ball's bounce and the spin speed...' Philip thought to himself before making his decision. Grabbing the Cyclone Memory, he made his selection. "Red 21!" With Kaga seeing this, he decided to plant one stack of Life Coins on Black 17. With that, all the attention lay focused on the roulette wheel as it spun. Fortunately, probability and physics had proven their use for Philip, as the ball, indeed, landed on Red 21.

"You did it!" Akiko cheered, practically jumping in joy. Shotaro sighed at Philip getting praise as he had a glass of water.

"Nice work, Philip," Ben smiled in response.

"Excellent," Kaga complimented, clapping in respect for the first victory. With that, another croupier took a rake and slide both the Life Coin stack and the Cyclone Memory. The next bet went just as well: Philip had put the Luna Memory for his bet on Red 16 while Kaga had another stack of Life Coins on Black 20. Once again, probability and physics were ever in Philip's favor, and he won another stack of Life Coins. Soon, all but one of Kaga's stacks belonged to him.

With victory practically palpable, Akiko ran towards Shotaro, glee in her voice. "Look at that! Amazing! Philip-kun really is reliable!"

"Yeah, quite impressive," Shotaro had a bad feeling about this. Any card shark worth their salt had a dirty trick up their sleeve, and he had a bad idea which of Philip's nerves was vulnerable.

"I see," Kaga huffed, seeing the odds shift away from him. "Quite impressive." This boy was an enigma: challenging him on his own front, and somehow managing to perfectly predict the trajectory of the ball in the roulette wheel like some kind of supercomputer. But he realized he knew nothing else about him, especially, "Why? Why play this meaningless game?"

Philip huffed, undeterred. "No reason. Not one in particular."

With a slight head tilt, the card shark had his employee spin the wheel yet again, but before the boy had a chance to land a bet, he asked, "Was it because you were tired of hearing their families' crying?"

With that, Philip seized up like a deer in headlights, putting a hand to his head as he began to speak in a trance-like state. "My home...my...family..." With that, his breathing began to become erratic, and images of a woman, man, and two girls alongside a young boy all dressed in white walked along the beach side, the woman also holding a white umbrella. All of their faces weren't shown, hidden in bright light. Like mosquitos, the images flew around his head, and Philip reacted accordingly, attempting to swat them and knocking down a glass of water, its smashing against the floor alerting everyone to his unstable condition.

"Philip?" Ben asked in concern, seeing Philip beginning to sweat and take shallow breaths.

A weak point discovered, Kaga wasted no time plunging the knife deeper. "Do you have...unpleasant memories about your family?" Years of experience came in clutch, and he placed his last stack of Life Coins on Black 35. When the employee rang the bell to indicate that time for thinking was up, Philip reflexively chose to place the Cyclone Memory on Red 23. With that behavior, Kaga smiled, having finally found a way to take down this upstart, and the odds were ever in his favor, as he raked both that stack and the Cyclone Memory.

Shotaro's response to all this was a succinct, "This is bad."


Whereas the tide had gone bad for the Narumi Detective Agency, things were going good for the Sonozaki family. As Saeko walked down the aisle, her father trailed behind, smiling as his family grew more powerful.

"Father," His daughter said as she smiled. "I'm so happy."

Hearing this, her father laughed heartily. "Yes," His smile never faded as he saw his cat, Wakana, and Kirihiko ahead. "We are the happiest family in the world." While Kirihiko smiled at his soon to be wife, Wakana, remembering how she'd failed to rattle the new Nazca Dopant, clicked her tongue in annoyance as the family cat simply growled in boredom, missing his exquisite salmon pâté and confused why humans had such extravagant and needlessly excessive mating ceremonies.


"I...have no interest...in family!" Philip huffed in desperation as he struggled to keep his thoughts in line. Ben had been trying to keep him calm through deep breaths, but it was all for naught. Completely rattled after the constant clamor of 'family', the young genius had lost the Heat and Luna Memories while Kaga had regained two more of his stacks. Things only got worse when the ball landed in Black 11 instead of Black 13, as Kaga had the Joker Memory taken alongside another stack of Life Coins.

Kaga giggled at the mentally shattered Philip. "Look at you! You've crumbled! How unbelievably frail you are!" With that, Philip stumbled away, as if he'd gotten totally ripped, all the while Kaga laughed and enjoyed some fine wine and Ben was left trying to help his friend keep his cool.

Akiko ran towards Philip, catching him as he was about to fall over. "Philip-kun? Are you okay? You're not winning anymore!"

With that, Philip stumbled away, hunching over a chair, listlessly answering, "I...can't...My focus...it's gone..."

"That's not all you'll be losing!" Kaga chuckled. "I'm going to make you a deal, girlie!" Akiko turned to face the card shark at her mentioning. "I'll give you a chance to make it 7 against my 6! All you have to give me ... is your gaijin employee's loyalty!" Akiko and Shotaro's eyes widened at this, and Ben turned to face Kaga like he'd suddenly grown a second head.

"What the- ME?!" Ben sputtered out.

"Of course!" Kaga smiled. "Every good businessman needs a bodyguard, and why do you bother with these lowly detective wannabes?" Shotaro and Akiko were both in agreement for once when they heard that term given to them, both of them glaring at him. "I've seen what you can do! You gave me so much trouble back then, and I would love someone like that helping me out! Perhaps a reminder here or there to the police on them not getting in my way or telling the rest of my customers what they need." Turning to the unconscious Yūko, he chuckled as a dark idea came forth. "Perhaps poor Yūko's family could have their store go down in flames if I don't get a cut of their profits."

"Are you suggesting that you go from card shark to head of a protection racket?!" Shotaro angrily grumbled before he slammed on the nearby table. "You'll leave Futo flooded in tears if you pull such horrific acts like that! I won't let you do that!"

"Who cares about the worthless tears of this backwater town?" Kaga shrugged without a care. "I'm offering him wealth beyond measure! He'll live like a king! The finest delicacies, the most luxurious vacation spots, and the most beautiful girls throwing themselves at him!" Ben's face could be mistaken for a tomato at the thought of becoming a ladies' man. "And with power like this, no one could-"

"Shut up! Ben-kun isn't something to be given away like an old toy! He's an individual with his own thoughts and mind and will." Akiko retorted as she pulled out her sandal and prepared to clock him head on. Shotaro would've added on more, before remembering the gift Santa-chan left him, coming up with an idea.

"I don't really care about that, little missy! Money is power! If it were a dish, it'd be one I'd happily devour!" Kaga sadistically chuckled, the mirror seemingly reflecting his Dopant form's appearance. "So...let me win, so I can fully win all your Memories and your gaijin!"

"That's enough," Shotaro spoke firmly, his mind cooling down from the simmering rage he felt at the idea of Ben being made to work for a Dopant. "We'll be switching players." With that, he stepped forward, holding the bag. "You'll be playing against me...and this next game will be the last one!" With that, he made his way to the table and leaned towards the card shark, a resolute look on his face. "Life Coins, Gaia Memories, even Ben's loyalty. I'm betting all or nothing!"

"Huh?" Kaga asked, completely flummoxed as he tilted his head.

"S-Shotaro?" Philip asked as Akiko gasped at the declaration.

"Not you too, Shotaro!" Ben groaned, having a bad sense of déjà vu coming over him.

"You? At roulette?" Kaga inquired incredulously.

"No," Shotaro answered, grabbing the bag. "We'll play the game I'm best at." With that, he emptied the bag and slammed his hand on the pack of cards, grabbing them and holding them like the Joker Memory as he would normally transform.

"Baba Nuki!"


"Exchange the rings," the white, bushy-bearded priest instructed. With that, Kirihiko took the rings held by Wakana and prepared to gift them to Saeko, who'd taken off her left glove so the deed could be done. With that, Kirihiko put the diamond ring on his new wife, and was well on his way to become one of the Sonozakis.


Apparently, Baba Nuki was just the Japanese terminology for the old card game Old Maid. And it seemed that Kaga's streak of victory wasn't ending with roulette. With a flourish of cards, he held his deck up, and that same smug smile lay plastered on his face. Shotaro had been getting utterly creamed, especially as Kaga kept reading him like the open book he tried to pretend he wasn't.

"Your next card is the king of hearts," Kaga accurately surmised. Shotaro gasped at that, but ultimately acquiesced to his prediction as he took said card, putting that and the king of spades to the rapidly growing pile. "And for my next card, I'll pick the joker." Looking at Shotaro for a few minutes, he took one of his cards as he smirked. "This one, right?" Shotaro could only gasp at the accuracy of the card shark's guess, stupefied as he snatched the joker card from him.

"Why Baba Nuki?" Akiko whined as she watched Shotaro get creamed. Walking back to the table where Ben and Philip had seated, she slumped over. "Why is Shotaro doing everything that guy says?"

Philip needed only a glance to get an answer for that. "He can read any of Shotaro's eyes and motives."

"7 of clubs!" Kaga announced as he snatched said card from Shotaro.

"Is that how he knew where the joker was?" Ben asked, not liking where this was going.

"Yes," Philip answered. "Not just where the joker is, but also what card Shotaro's going to play." Shotaro angrily took off his hat after being beaten yet again. "Not to mention that his skills as a card player are godlike, to the point he can even make his opponents pick what cards he wants."

"Then that means...there's no way for Shotaro to win!" Akiko gasped.

Kaga chuckled again, seeing an apparently imminent loss. He knew Shotaro only had the Ace of Hearts, while he still had the Joker and the Ace of Spades. "At last. This game ends here!" Shotaro gulped. "You'll draw the joker, and I'll draw your last ace! Then, you're done, and I'll be running this town with your gaijin!" Shotaro snorted like an angry bull at this, incensed at the idea of someone as heartless as Kaga calling the shots and using his young friend to do so, especially when Kaga's annoying chortling rang through all ears in attendance. "I love the look on the face of a losing dog as much as I love money! Those two reasons are just why I can't get enough of gambling!"

Hearing Shotaro's opponent take such glee in his concerned state, Ben could only utter in sympathy, "Shotaro..."

"No...he's out!" Philip worriedly said.

"Don't worry," Shotaro suddenly said, regaining some measure of composure. "Just be quiet and watch me." Putting the card down, he looked at his fedora. "Boss said this..." Putting on his hat, Shotaro's determination did not fade as he recalled Sokichi Narumi. "A man's job is 80 percent determination. From there, everything else seems like a bonus. Even if it was reckless, I chose to fight to protect." Ben noticed a slightly sadder tone at this, having an idea that whatever happened to Akiko's father was something that Shotaro felt responsible for. "So I've got no regrets no matter the way it ends." With that, Shotaro remained firm, the tone giving way to focus. "You are...the precious partner that Boss Narumi entrusted to me! And as for you Ben..." Ben turned to face Shotaro. "I know well enough that you would never take this snake's side, but all the same, I refuse to let you get wrapped in his games...my hard-boiled apprentice!"

"Whoa..." Ben replied, surprised to see Shotaro take on a more hard-boiled look. That being said, he couldn't help but chuckle at Shotaro's insistence on him being hard-boiled, and him calling him his apprentice.

"It's useless..." Philip morosely countered. "There's no point!"

"Don't say that!" Akiko angrily took out her slipper at this and clocked Philip on the head.

BONK!

"Eh?" Philip asked in confusion seeing her behavior.

"Shotaro-kun is serious about saving you and Ben-kun!" Ben turned around, surprised to see that for once, Akiko wasn't taking pot shots at Shotaro. "So believe in him!" Pulling Philip and gazing into his eyes, she made him turn his gaze towards Shotaro. "You guys...are two but one, right?"

Shotaro heard those words, and had more resolve strengthening him. "That's right. We are Double." Shotaro stood up. "Two in one!" The half-boiled detective turned to his partner. "The two of us are always one. Right, Philip?" With that, he gave a quick wink. Philip gasped at this, but it soon gave way to a smile and a nod, one that Shotaro returned. "So...let's duel!" With that, he turned to Kaga, giving a determined finger point at him. "You're done when I play my next move!"

Kaga was surprised at the sudden burst of resolve, but had no concerns. "Don't you make me laugh! You'll be writhing in complete despair!" With that, he began to rapidly flip the cards from side to side, making it hard to determine which was the Joker or the Ace of Spades. Akiko turned to Shotaro, then Philip. Shtaro, then Philip; the latter of whom had closed his eyes.

What happened next was a blur: Shotaro's left hand reached out for one card before all of a sudden pulling away while his right hand flicked one card into Kaga's face. When the card finally landed on his forehead, it was revealed as the Ace of Spades. With Shotaro taking the last two Aces into the pile, all Kaga had was the Joker, and therefore, had lost the game. The Life Coins, the Gaia Memories, and Ben's loyalty had become part of the Narumi Detective Agency's assets. "I don't need that last card. For I am..." Shotaro slid his finger across the rim of his fedora. "...the Joker!"

"He did it! He won!" Akiko cheered as she was jumping in joy. Philip smiled that disaster had been averted. Ben had simply gone for a happy clap, especially Kaga was backing up like Shotaro had suddenly started decomposing before him.

"But...how? Why?" Kaga asked, completely stumped at his loss.

"What's the matter, Kaga?" Ben chuckled. "Despair doesn't seem so fun when it's on the other foot, isn't it?"

"Indeed," Shotaro smiled. "But let me tell you how we won." With that, he pulled his jacket, revealing that attached to his waist was the DoubleDriver. "The moment I put on the DoubleDriver, my mind and Philip's become connected." Tapping his head and smiling, he revealed, "My right hand picking your ace was Philip's." Akiko gasped as Philip stepped forward.

"You were able to flawlessly read Shotaro's expression," Philip explained, walking towards Shotaro's right side. "So all I needed to do was pick a card before he did!"

"Glad you noticed... partner," Shotaro smiled as he looked at his partner, Philip doing likewise. "This game..."

"We won!" Akiko happily cried out, pushing both Shotaro and Philip to her sides.

"You could've let them finish," Ben sweatdropped at her eagerness as Shotaro and Philip returned. "But all the same, hope you enjoy your time in the loser lounge!"

"Don't you talk to me like that, you brat!" Kaga huffed in frustration, pulling out the Money Memory and activating it.

MONEY!

Jamming it into his neck, he once again turned into the Money Dopant. Akiko's smile gave way to a brief look of fear before handing the Cyclone and Joker Memories to their respective owners. "Get him!"

CYCLONE!

JOKER!

With that, Shotaro and Philip put their arms across their bodies to form a W, before both called out, "Henshin!" With that, they inserted the Memories into the DoubleDriver, and once Shotaro had crossed his arms and reshaped the belt into a W once again, CycloneJoker stood before the Money Dopant.

CYCLONE! JOKER!

"I'll remember this!" The Money Dopant stammered as it ran away, its leverage lost.

"Hey, stop!" Kamen Rider Double called out as he followed the card shark. While the two were gone, Akiko quickly began to scoop up the Life Coins.

After putting Philip's unconscious body in a nearby seat, Ben quickly activated the Ultimatrix, readying for a new battle. "Well, now, time to put a freeze on these operations!" With that, Ben slammed down the dial, and in a flash of emerald light, Akiko saw that Big Chill was standing in his place.

"Big Chill!" The Necrofriggian announced in his ghostly whisper of a voice.

¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦

Codon Stream Entry: Big Chill

Species: Necrofriggian

Home World: Kylmyys

Due to a cataclysmic event, Kylmyys ended up stuck in what can be described as eternal winter. Glacial ice and snow coat most of the planet, and even the warmest days barely go above 275 Kelvins. Due to this, the Necrofriggian race was forced to adapt to extraordinarily cold climates, but since they also need to feed on solar plasma after their hatching, they need to withstand the heat of a star's surface. As such, Necrofriggians are pretty much immune to any form of temperature extremity, and can survive both underwater and in space. However, they are masters of ice manipulation. A Necrofriggian's breath can freeze opponents solid to trap them in ice, and they can also create frost tornadoes, generate ice maces or spiked ice gaunlets on their hands, fire beams that freeze opponents from their hands, erect icy shields, and energy beams that turn into ice upon touching a surface or solid object. To further reduce the effect of the cold climate, Necrofriggians also developed the ability to become intangible, letting them phase through walls and attack, even allowing them to freeze object by flying through them while intangible, but this is also a conscious power, so it can not work against sneak attacks. Necrofriggians are an asexual race, undergoing a reproductive cycle every 80 Earth years that forces them to eat metal so as to help construct a nest for their eggs, so gender lies upon the individual Necrofriggian.

¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦l¦

"The moth ghost!" Akiko cried out as she remembered what happened the last time she tried to clock him.

"He he, guess I made quite the impression on you last time, didn't I sis?" Big Chill chuckled. "I'm going to turn the Money Dopant into cold, hard cash. Permission granted, chief?"

"Yes! Turn that lying cheat into kakigōri!" Akiko instructed, a smile on her face as she thought of what trouble the Dopant was in.

"So you command, so it shall be done!" With that, Big Chill spread out his wings and flew through the corridor that Kamen Rider Double and the Dopant had ran through to escape.


"Now, exchange the oath kiss."

With that instruction from the priest, Kirhiko and Saeko leaned towards each other, and just before their lips touched, they turned into the respective Dopant forms, with the Nazca Dopant finally being revealed. He was a tall, mostly humanoid figure, covered in blue armor, though his left pectoral was gray instead, and across his body were various black markings done in the style of the Nazca Lines in Peru. From his silver belt were black markings similar to a bird's head and wings, and flowing from his back was a pair of orange pieces of scarf-like fabric that flew in the wind. Finishing his head was a black visor that was covered by orange geoglyphs. In totality, the Nazca Dopant was a knight whose armor was themed after the famed geogylphs.

With that, Kirihiko's new father-in-law stood up and clapped in rapt approval as he and Saeko stepped forward, the latter slightly giggling. Wakana reluctantly followed, and all the staff there were soon applauding the nearly completed marriage.


The Money Dopant was not having a good time running from Double, especially when a driver suddenly stopped in front of him, screaming at the sight before him. "Get out of my way!" The roaring of an engine soon caught his attention, and indeed, Kamen Rider Double was riding the HardBoilder, Big Chill flying close behind him.

"I know you didn't get much of a look at this guy before, Shotaro, so how's about I give you a real demonstration of what I can do like this?" Big Chill offered.

"Fine with me," Shotaro agreed. "He tried to take you from us, so you're owed an opportunity to beat him down!"

"Indeed," Philip concurred, Double's right eye flashing. "It'll be an interesting experience to see what you do with this alien!" With that, the HardBoilder tackled the Money Dopant, and Big Chill quickly turned intangible, and ice soon coated the now flying Dopant, making it land in a block of ice.

"There we go. One Dopant popsicle, fresh off the iron press!" Big Chill chuckled. That chuckling stopped at the distinct sound of shattering ice. Cracks began to form across the ice coating the Dopant, and soon enough, the Money Dopant broke free in a shower of ice chunks and coins.

"What are those?!" Some nearby civilians called out, shocked at the site before them. With that, Double swerved into the Money Dopant, sending him flying yet again and making him roll across the pavement.

"Damn you, both!" The Money Dopant grunted as he launched another bevy of paper money at them, only for Big Chill to let out a powerful exhale from the ground that quickly formed into a small ice ball that trapped the bills in place.

"Well, you've completed your last con, punk!" Big Chill hissed, folding his wings and antenna into their cloak-like form.

"Yes! Now, count up your sins!" With that Double pointed towards the Dopant with his right hand in a finger-gun gesture. With that, the Money Dopant charged again, leading to another brawl between him and Double. Big Chill took any chance he could to sneak in a blow or two from a pair of flanged ice maces he'd formed around his fists, shattering them on impact.

"Nowhere to run, moneybags," Big Chill raspily whispered, his breath forming vapor with ever word. At this, he fell to the ground and sent forth a massive spike of ice like an uppercut, sending the Dopant flying away and making him land in a messy heap.

"Nice hit, Ben!" Shotaro complimented.


Saeko was smiling as if she'd won a billion dollar lottery, and her father was similarly happy as he held the family cat, who was growling as his appetite remained unattended. Kirihiko's grin mirrored that of his wife, happy to finally have the chance to improve his work's progression on a bigger scale. Wakana, on the other hand, couldn't be any less happy that the brown noser had wormed his way into their family. People that sucked up like leeches made her feel violently ill, and she couldn't help but click her tongue again as she rolled her eyes at the new couple.

As the photographer emerged from the dark cloth, he held his hand towards his family, saying, "I'm taking it now!" With that, the family all got closer together, and while one might have expected an exact image of the Sonozakis as ordinary humans, they were instead all Dopants, their cat in the form of the saber-toothed Dopant that had been unfriendly to Kirihiko at first.


LUNA! JOKER!

At this point, the alien and and two-in-one hero decided to finish things, and Shotaro had activated the Luna Memory, turning his right half a bright yellow, and Ben couldn't say that he was expecting Shotaro's powers to be what he saw. When the Money Dopant sent barrage after barrage of coins, Shotaro's right arm extended and he began to use his rubbery limb like a whip, sending the coins every which way and reducing their impact.

"Well, if he's going to stand still," Big Chill noted as the Dopant refused to move. With that, he unfurled his wings and antenna and flew up, breathing out cold air that coalesced into a misty cloud and soon, a square of icicles encased the Money Dopant, and while he was left befuddled at his new cage, Big Chill took the chance to unleash more cold air and form a roof of thick ice that completed a makeshift jail-cell. "Guess that makes this the "Cold Cash Dopant", eh? All yours, Shotaro."

"Appreciate it," Saluting the Necrofriggian, Kamen Rider Double rushed forward, breaking the icicles with all the effort of splitting plywood. With that, he unleashed another bevy of kicks and punches unto the card shark. "Want some more?"

METAL!

With that, Double activated the Metal Memory, and switched it in, transforming into a new combination.

LUNA! METAL!

With a right Luna side and a left Metal Side, Shotaro pulled out the Metalshaft and began to use it like a whip, as each swing had it lengthen and bend like it was made of rope instead of, well, metal. While Double whipped the Money Dopant into shape, Big Chill hadn't been idle, as he put his hand to the ground and began sending out trails of ice across it, and these would soon lift from the ground and, upon nearing the Dopant, suddenly turn into spiked ice balls, forming makeshift flanged maces that left sparks flying. While the Dopant was left prone, Shotaro quickly closed the gap and held him at staffpoint.

"Right, right, his family," The Money Dopant finally said before he grabbed the staff and tried to wrench it off of him. "You damn brat! Have you recovered from being abandoned by your shitty family?"

"Philip!" Shotaro called out, realizing just what the card shark intended to do.

"Family..." Philip muttered. For a moment, Double's head lowered in contemplation before it rose up again. "I've got my replacement for that. But none of them are that smart."

Shotaro chuckled as he realized what Philip meant. "This guy..." With that, he activated the Heat Memory after pulling the staff out of the Money Dopant's arms and giving him a good clock.

HEAT!

Switching out the Luna Memory, he placed the Heat Memory in its place.

HEAT! METAL!

With that, Big Chill and HeatMetal began a hot and cold assault on the Dopant, Big Chill reforming his ice maces while Shotaro used the flaming MetalShaft alongside some flaming punches. Seeing that he was completely outmatched, the Dopant turned tail and fled, but Big Chill quickly turned transparent and flew through the Dopant's legs, causing ice to form and freeze him to the ground, leaving the Dopant to futilely punch the ice that held him like super-cold superglue.

"Good work. Time to finish this!" With that, Shotaro took out the Metal Memory and inserted it into the MetalShaft.

METAL! MAXIMUM DRIVE!

"METAL BRANDING!" As Philip and Shotaro called out in unison, the ends of the staff were set alight in roaring flames. With that, Kamen Rider Double charged forward and unleashed a powerful staff strike that not only broke the Dopant out of his icy restraints, but also sent him flying across the nearby stairs. Once he had landed, Kaga lay in his place, his Money Memory close to him.

"I'm not... finished yet!" He grunted, trying to keep his head up and reach his Gaia Memory. "Next time...I'll be lucky. I'm sure!" However, the Money Memory barked before exploding in his face.

"Oh, boo hoo!" Ben fake cried. "Not so fun when it's on the other foot, eh? Loser dog?" With that, Kaga finally fell unconscious. "What now, Shotaro?"

"The police can handle the rest," Shotaro calmly answered.


Recalling how Akiko had passed by Izumi Confectionaries and had seen Yūko in a much better head space now that she'd broken free of her gambling addiction and taught that family had more value than the contents of a king's coffers, Shotaro began typing his report. He saw that Ben and Akiko were enjoying some manjū that the Izumis had provided free of charge.

"Kaga's Life Coins were returned to their owners. While the Izūmi family has been left with a mountain of debt, I want to believe that something good came out of them remaining together. If they stick together, they will recover one day," Shotaro noted.

"Let's go straight to this corner," Wakana's voice came over the radio before announcing, "Futo Mystery Tour!" Philip still stood in rapt attention. "Today's topic..." What came next attention made every stand up in shock. "is Kamen Rider and his shapeshifting sidekick!"

"Kamen Rider?" Shotaro asked in complete surprise as he finished typing the report, walking towards the radio.

"Sidekick?" Ben and Akiko asked in surprise at how Ben was relegated, following Shotaro.

"I've received a lot of submissions about these two!" Wakana continued. "Riding a bike, this half-and-half superhero defeated a terrible monster, and with the help of his sidekick, who turned into a ghostly mothman armed with the cold winds of the underworld!" Ben couldn't help but be surprised at the almost mythical way Wakana described Big Chill, but considering that aliens had apparently been confused for cryptids before according to Grandpa Max, he could believe that one could see it as a supernatural being. "Well, I certainly believe these tales!"

"Alright!" Shotaro cheered. "I was mentioned by Princess Wakana!"

"She called up Kamen Rider!" Philip's intensity matched Shotaro's.

"We're an urban legend!" Shotaro shook Philip, his excitement and half-boiled nature plain as day.

"The two of us are a single Kamen Rider!" Philip reminded his partner.

"Double!" Shotaro made his finger gun gesture towards Philip.

"Well, don't leave me out of the party!" Ben chuckled along. "I'm an urban legend with you guys as well!"

"I guess so," Akiko giggled, seeing the mood brighten up.


Author's Note:

And one more Dopant down. I do plan on getting more chapters for Kir-Ben 10: Poyo Force and Ben 10: Reincario as soon as I can. Just be patient, because there's some other projects that I want to work on before then. Anyways, just know that if I do an update on this story, there's always one more that comes soon enough because of the double (ha ha) episode thing Kamen Rider does. On that note, I hope you like the little shout out I did with Big Chill imitating Shift Justice Hunter from Kamen Rider Drive.

With that, let's get onto some of the changes brought in this chapter. Ben, Philip, Akiko, and Shotaro's relationships have developed further, and I wanted to give Ben and Akiko the relation of siblings that keep swapping between the role of the older one: they're both protective of one another, but swap in different scenarios. Plus, Wakana has developed an interest in Ben, and that will affect her actions. She still will connect with Philip, but it will be a lot more cordial and sibling-like than the Luke-Leia thing they had going.


Next Time: Shotaro Hidari: Hero, Detective, Father?

Hired by a councilwoman to protect her and her daughter as she opens a new tower, Ben and Double find themselves facing not only the barrel of a Dopant sniper, but unexpected fatherhood as the councilwoman's daughter, Asuka, believes that Double is her long-deceased father, leaving the two to grapple with if and how to tell her the truth.