Chapter 48:

The Great Hero vs. Rider Rivalry

It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice


Tonight’s my seventy-second shift.Bookmark here

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Ding-a-ling-a-ling...Bookmark here

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“Welcome, ira-...”Bookmark here

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Great... It’s that sentai team from last night. I think I can guess why they’re here.Bookmark here

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“Citizen! Good to see that you’re hard at work this evening. We discussed this yesterday evening, but... Have you seen that monster wandering about?”Bookmark here

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“Nope. Can’t say that I have.”Bookmark here

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“You know, Red... This guy’s prooooobably telling the truth.”Bookmark here

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“Green, you’re going too easy on him. He’s a filthy traitor who’s sided with the competition. It’s entirely possible that he’s not.”Bookmark here

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Dude, I’m not that evil. ...Seriously, what does the red ranger have against people who prefer the masked rider series?Bookmark here

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“Calm down, Red. What reasons would a regular citizen have for harboring a creature like that?”Bookmark here

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The blue ranger crosses his arms, seemingly the cool-headed voice of reason.Bookmark here

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See! That one gets it! Bookmark here

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“Maybe our enemies are forcing him to raise it in secret, did you think of that?”Bookmark here

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Hey, man! Don’t just assume that people are lackeys! Why would an evildoer force their lackey to work late nights part-time at a convenience store? And does “enemies” include the masked rider?Bookmark here

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Blue ranger, you’d better not stand for this nonsense! Come on, call the red one out on this, too!  Bookmark here

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“...Fair enough. Hey, kid. You’re going to have to show us evidence that you’re not a monster sympathizer.”Bookmark here

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...Nope. The blue one’s just as much of a blockhead. Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?!Bookmark here

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“Buuuut, what if he really IS a regular guy? He could even be the kind of upstanding citizen who helps little old ladies cross the street, for all we know.”Bookmark here

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The green ranger steps in front of me, waving their hands in a placating manner. Well, it’s nice to know that someone’s in my corner.Bookmark here

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“Can’t we just agree that the monster’s not here? I’ve got better places to be.”Bookmark here

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The yellow ranger plunks her hands on her hips, tapping her foot impatiently.Bookmark here

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“...Me too. Being awake this late isn’t doing my skin any favors.”Bookmark here

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The pink one cups her helmet with a sigh, and the two defectors turn towards the automatic doors.Bookmark here

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“...Tch! You all know what’ll happen if we don’t hurry up and find that thing!”Bookmark here

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The red ranger stomps, like a toddler having a tantrum.Bookmark here

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“Is, uh, what you’re looking for really that dangerous?”Bookmark here

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“No, but it’s a creature unlike any the world has seen before. Best to defeat it while it’s still a child, before it destroys everything we hold dear.”Bookmark here

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Well, that seems like a bit of a stretch.Bookmark here

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I mean, I really can’t see something that tiny being that powerful.Bookmark here

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Ding-a-ling-a-ling...Bookmark here

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“Welcome, irasshaima-...”Bookmark here

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The five-person team steps to either side of the doors, to let the customer in.Bookmark here

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...Problem is, it’s the gremlin from last night. He’s so big now, he barely fits in the store. His head is practically brushing up against the ceiling tiles.Bookmark here

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“What the...?! Isn’t THAT the creature?!”Bookmark here

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The blue ranger cries out, pointing up at the scaly figure.Bookmark here

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“Shit! Where the hell did it come from?!”Bookmark here

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Huh. Looks like the red ranger’s language gets a little less PG when he’s caught off guard.Bookmark here

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“D-Don’t worry! With our powers combined, there’s no monster we can’t beat!”Bookmark here

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The green ranger dramatically pumps his fist in the air.Bookmark here

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“Yellow! Pink! Get ready!”Bookmark here

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The two considerably less motivated ladies shuffle into place.Bookmark here

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“There we go.”Bookmark here

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The gremlin didn’t come alone, though. The long-haired guy in the black coat (also from yesterday) pops out from behind him. This time, he’s wearing a black top hat that conceals part of his face.Bookmark here

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I’m guessing he’s in his early thirties? Either way, he’s got a strangely mature vibe for someone who just casually popped out from behind a freaking monster.Bookmark here

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“Huuuuuh?! Rider, is that you? Pft! What’s this season’s theme again? “Knight of the Void”? You still a solo act?”Bookmark here

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The red ranger suddenly advances on the new arrival.Bookmark here

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...Hm? Did he just call him “Rider”? Wait, is this guy...Bookmark here

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“Yeah, and it suits me just fine. Unlike you losers, I’m not so weak that I need a whole damn team to take down my enemies.”Bookmark here

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Mutters the man in black, in a deep, gravelly voice.Bookmark here

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“...Isn’t that another way of saying you have no friends?”Bookmark here

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Dude! Back off, Red!!Bookmark here

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“Friendship...is everything.”Bookmark here

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Blue nods firmly in agreement.Bookmark here

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“Hey, I’ll be your friend! (Honestly, I’ve always wanted to.) ...C’mon, we’re all part of one big, happy, superhero family, right? We shouldn’t be bickering like this — we oughta be paaaaals.”Bookmark here

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The green ranger slings his arms around both Red and Rider’s shoulders. I mean, he’s got a point. Ultimately, aren’t their goals the same? If they all worked together, the world would be a more peaceful place. As a concerned citizen, that solution gets my vote.Bookmark here

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“Like hell I’d wear those lame suits. They’re a freaking eyesore. At least my costume’s built for genuine day-to-day use. And it’s way cooler.”Bookmark here

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Oh my gosh, so it really IS him!! The masked rider, in the flesh!! Man, I wonder if he’d sign my... Nah, better not ask. I get the feeling he’d turn me down.  Bookmark here

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“You don’t GET it, do you? Sentai heroes are all about the classic suits! Pink’s the one who designed them, ‘cause she’s a huge nerd! Are you saying that her costumes suck? Right to her face?!”Bookmark here

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Yeeeah, that’s not a very superhero-esque way of phrasing that. That can’t be doing their reputation any favors.Bookmark here

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“I-It’s fine, it doesn’t really bother me.”Bookmark here

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“Heh heh!”Bookmark here

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“Hey. Yellow. Laugh again and I’ll shove that helmet where the sun doesn’t shine.”Bookmark here

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Yeesh, even Pink’s losing her composure. ...Uh, hang on...Bookmark here

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“Heh! So, your real personality finally rears its ugly head. Sorry, but I already know your suuuuper noble reason for joining the team, Pink. You just wanted to be the token female, didn’t you? Too bad you didn’t get your harem, you selfish skank.”Bookmark here

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Even with the helmet, you can tell that Yellow’s sticking her tongue out at Pink.Bookmark here

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“Oh, yeah? Well, I’ll bet YOU wanted to be the PINK one! It’s a shame you’re not sweet, lovely and gentle enough to be WORTHY of the color! Why don’t you just go home and stuff your face with fries, you oily hag? We all know it’s what you’d rather be doing!”Bookmark here

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Ladies, as sentai heroines, you ought to be better than this!Bookmark here

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“Aw, c’mon, guys! Can’t we all just get along?!”Bookmark here

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The green ranger is desperately trying to keep what little peace is left.Bookmark here

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“...Green, you know you can’t stop this train wreck.”  Bookmark here

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Blue rests a sympathetic hand on Green’s shoulder.Bookmark here

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So, this...happens all the time? Yeeesh, that’s bleak.Bookmark here

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“Um, if you don’t mind my asking... Why ARE you hanging around that gremlin? ...Mister Rider. Sir.”Bookmark here

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The masked rider shrugs — but he does answer my question.Bookmark here

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“My bike’s busted. I’ve been taking care of this guy, though, and now he’s big enough to ride. It doesn’t feel half bad, actually.”Bookmark here

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...Wait, what?Bookmark here

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The masked rider’s coolness mostly comes from how he chases down his enemies on that badass bike of his, right? Does it still count if it’s not a motorcycle? ...Actually, isn’t going after monsters ON a monster cheating?Bookmark here

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“Anyways! We demand that you hand that dangerous creature over to us.”Bookmark here

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The red ranger creeps closer and closer to the gremlin, getting ready to grab it.Bookmark here

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“No can do. This dude’s my ride.”Bookmark here

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With that, Rider effortlessly hops on the creature’s back.Bookmark here

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“P-Chips, let’s blow this joint. We’ll get our coke and snacks at some other store.”Bookmark here

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...At least give the not-a-motorcycle a suitably hardcore name.  Bookmark here

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The Knight of the Void and his suspicious steed hightail it out of the store.Bookmark here

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“Quick, after them!!”Bookmark here

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The sentai team races out behind the unlikely duo, but only the green ranger pauses long enough to bob their head in apology for the intrusion.Bookmark here

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...Yeah, he’s way too nice to make it on that squad. Bookmark here


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