Our story techically starts with Terui Ryu making his regular visit to his family's memorial - we're not sure how often he does this and how many times a year or anything, but what we do know is someone has always been here a step ahead of him, laying the same white flowers in that spot every time. Ignoring that detail for a moment, our story moves over to Narumi Detective Agency, where Ryu pays a visit with some local delicacies (if the name Kazehana Fuu Manju is any indication). Akiko's momentary spaceout over the indirect kiss from Ryu's coffee cup is broken when our Victim of the Week steps in. Meet Yoshie and what appears to be her mother... who is actually her daughter Miyu, afflicted with something that turned her from ten to eighty overnight. No doubt a Dopant was involved... but that's barely scratching the surface of it all. None of them notice Shroud outside the building, secretly observing them... as if she had a stake in it too...
Our heroes' surface-scratching takes them to Miyu's kindergarten, where Ryu and Akiko ask the headmaster about any possible suspects. He knows her quite well, saying she's actually very well liked even before securing that place in the annual pageant, which really should trip some switches on its own, as our heroes meet another player - Kumi, another talented girl who'll be in the annual pageant. More to the point, it's her mother Mitsuko that draws the real suspicion - incredibly arrogant and hateful, as if her love for her daughter somehow acts as her licence. You don't even have to catch the look on Kumi's face, as she's dragged off for another dance recital, to put two and two together.
Where's Shotaro off to at this time, you ask? Why, doing his digging his own way, of course, and this time it's Watcherman who delivers. Apparently there's particularly detailed rumors going around about Fukesaseya, the Dealer of Age, fronted by his fortune telling business, while raking in the big bucks with clients paying him off to induce advanced years in their targets. How detailed are these rumors? Well, Watcherman (with a bit of baiting anyways) even has the secret password needed to identify the man...
With just that and little else, our heroes make their move, having Akiko act as their frontman to ask every fortuneteller they come across about the secret password. Aside from being sidetracked when one gypsy type senses Akiko's romantic fortune, our heroes end up with smack dab... until Akiko comes across a Perma-Stubble gangster-looking palm reader who not only completes the quote but knows where it came from. Unfortunately, we hit another snag when Akiko nearly falls for his sales pitch, forcing Shotaro and Ryu to step in immediately and confront him. Which proves to be the right move, as the man reacts by jacking in and turning into the Old Dopant, which despite the name is just a generic humanoid creature with an oddly oversized headpiece. If that doesn't look familiar yet, he even has an ethereal liquid attack - which Ryu as Accel immediately blocks with his whole body before it can touch Akiko. Shotaro and Phillip quickly go into CycloneJokerXtreme and take the battle to the enemy - who turns out to have his own two-in-one gimmick, as he flips around to hold off Double in his bruiser-inclined black side, before reverting to normal to let off another liquid attack, hitting Double with the full brunt of it. Old Dopant manages to slip away, leaving Double reverted to Shotaro and Phillip - and Shotaro inexplicably slow and lethargic and hard of hearing, with his hair turning white....
It's only then that Terui Ryu finally catches Shroud watching them from a corner, and for once he and Phillip catch up to her. Finally, Shroud lays out her game plan for our heroes... it wasn't as simple as Phillip leaving Shotaro, it was to make Ryu his replacement, creating a new Double with an unbelievable magnitude of power. CycloneAccelXtreme, intended to draw upon all the hatred Shroud had been farming from Ryu all this time. This seems familiar somewhat...
Back at Narumi Detective Agency, Makura pays a visit, onlye to notice this shriveled old man in Shotaro's clothing... which is what the liquid attack had turned Shotaro into, given that they were hit as regular Double. Of course Makura doesn't buy it, allowing Shotaro to sucker him into doing stuff like rub his back and other dumb errands. At the same time, Yoshie bursts in and asky why they haven't made any progress yet. At least they have their lead to offer up, the whole Fukesaseya thing, and it says a lot that Akiko is first to suspect Mitsuko, despite Yoshie having known her even longer. Only one thing left to do - Akiko goes with Yoshie to find Mitsuko, while Phillip gets ready to enter the Gaia library again... as they both dump Shotaro into Makura's hands.
Phillip gets a shock as the Gaia library shelves are already in motion, as they should be when searching - turns out Wakana is already here, but too preoccupied with her own affairs to turn Phillip or anything like that. Turns out she's looking specifically for Shroud, having decided it's time to do something about her, but Ryubei made sure not to tell her everything. At least Phillip seems to know even less than she does...
Meanwhile, Saeko notices that Jun Kazu's come into possession of a whole suitcase of Gaia Memories, all in finetuned fashion like the ones our heroes have, but all with metallic blue contacts. Supposedly they were left behind by a former Foundation X member, but not before he (she?) flipped a switch in their hardwiring that left them unusable... for now. It's time for Jun Kazu to make a move, as Terui Ryu has somehow found Saeko, and they cross paths momentarily without ever knowing just how important they are... for now.
Akiko and Yoshie reach Mitsuko's home, just in time to catch Fukesaseya leaving with his payment. The damning evidence will have to wait though, as Akiko finds herself facing the Old Dopant without any backup - except Phillip has already finished his reading and made it to the scene. He's going to try and enabled Double as FangJoker to make up for Shotaro's current state, and fortunately Shotaro is still in control of enough of his faculties to send Makura off on another errand as he belts up, jacks in, and conveniently passes out on a couch as the Fang Memory finds Phillip. It's Rider time again as FangJoker takes the battle to the enemy... until Shotaro succumbs to the exertion and FangJoker starts coming apart...
Ryu was going to interrogate Saeko about Shroud, and got a little more than he bargained for. With the help of a convenient pool table, Saeko demonstrates how Shroud has to clear every player out of the field just to attack Sonozaki Ryubei, including Ryu's own family... by giving Isaka the Weather Memory in the first place. At the same time, Mitsuko admits to the whole thing, attacking Miyu through Fukesaseya just so her own daughter could get that precious role in the pageant. Akiko manages to break them up, before rusing over to see how Double is doing, and manages to catch the Xtreme Memory appearing to drive off the Old Dopant. Unfortunately, Yoshie catches the Old Dopant saying that as a fortuneteller, he realised that creating bad fates was a far better deal than making up good ones... and has an epiphany of her own.
Meanwhile at the Sonozaki mansion, the deal between Museum and Foundation X is settled as Ryubei hands in just enough to satisfy Jun Kazu. There's still the matter of Wakana though - she still doesn't trust him any further than she could throw the RevolGarry, at least till he lets slip that Terui Ryu has been snooping around. Which isn't a very accurate term, as Ryu is thoroughly infuriated and seeking out Shroud with Engine Blade in hand. As if on cue, Shroud appears in that corner of the woods again, with the explanation that she thinks he's after - she'd figured out that he was different, and counted on him to hold out against Old Dopant's liquid attack, which should have an identical consistency to Terror Dopant's best known move. The Weather Memory, Phillip, everything had been for the sole purpose of taking out Sonozaki Ryubei. Which is where Ryu decides he's fed up to hell with it all, and goes into Accel to destroy Shroud right there and then.
At the same time, Shotaro may actually be deteriorating, having trouble even slotting Gaia Memories now, when geriatric!Miyu pays a visit with Mummy nowhere in sight... but with another old lady beside her. Fridge Horror kicks in for Akiko as Yoshie has fallen off the slippery slope herself and enlisted Fukesaseya to attack Mitsuko's daughter Kumi. And the sight of both these old women crying proves to be the very thing that incites Shotaro into action... but we knew that already.
Turns out Ryu's having a little more trouble than he'd expected, as Shroud has her own metallic red Skull Magnum (Shroud Magnum?) and can put up a fight... though Ryu realises eventually that it was just obligatory. Not just Ryu's family, or the two families dragged into the business thanks to her fielding the Old Dopant on the sly, but Shroud had intended to sacrifice herself as well, all to turn Ryu into a living mass of hatred... just to make CycloneAccelXtreme and then turn it on Sonozaki Ryubei. Which actually causes Ryu to wake up his idea and avoid taking her down for the count as Accel Trial... but as luck would have it, Wakana managed to complete that Gaia library search, and intervenes as Claydoll Dopant, raining her own fire and brimstone on Shroud for what she'd done to her family. It's Ryu's turn to step in as he holds off Claydoll instead, forcing her to reveal everything.
Turns out Shroud's real name is Sonozaki Fumine, Ryubei's former wife, making her Saeko, Wakana and Phillip's mother. Rather than be forced to elaborate, Shroud makes herself scarce, while Wakana also takes her leave, leaving Ryu alone to notice a plot of flowers that's always been growing here... a particularly familiar-looking white strain, apparently only in bloom this time of year...
Unfortunately, women railing at each other is already a thing, as we see Mitsuko confronting Yoshie about the whole matter. There is literally nothing that can be done now, and Yoshie yelling at Mitsuko only serves to make their children cry even more. Who better than Terui Ryu to step in now, and armed with something more powerful than the Engine Blade... an epiphany. Turns out Yoshie and Mitsuko had made the exact same mistake as Shroud, not caring who gets involved in their revenge and how far beyond repair the situation had gone, until it was too late. Still, not caring about the extent of the situation proves to be a good thing, as the kindergarten headmaster starts pleading on their behalf. Yes, they'd essentially been dragging each other down the slippery slope, but it was all out of love for their children. Which serves to give Ryu another epiphany.
We return to that corner in the woods, where Shroud finally remembers what Ryu took so long to learn. Shroud had indeed been acting out of love, for Phillip that is. Not just Ryu's family, or the two families dragged into the business thanks to her fielding the Old Dopant on the sly, but Shroud had intended to take down Sonozaki Ryubei specifically for Phillip's protection. Yes, they were a normal family once, but Ryubei and his work with the whole Gaia business led him to drag Phillip into it, and Fumine, as she was called then, tried to take him away, but was literally burned for her effort. Granted she was using Phillip's unique condition as part of her ploy (the whole CycloneAccelXtreme thing), but still.
Ryu had anticipated some of that though, and made sure Phillip was on hand to hear everything. More importantly though, they're about to show Shroud just how wrong she was, by showing her how all of her scheming was about to become unnecessary... because they're already able to do it. In fact, Shotaro is currently facing Fukesaseya on his own, having just enough strength to take his cane and give the man a good hiding. Unfortunately the man isn't above jacking in and advancing Shotaro beyond human age expectancy as Old Dopant, but Phillip and Ryu manage to arrive just in time. It's twice the Rider time once again, as Ryu goes into Accel first, and Shotaro just needs a little coaxing to go into Double despite his condition, putting it lightly.
And once again, Shroud is secretly observing them. Which is precisely what Ryu counted on, as his big game plan is finally revealed - thanks to his unique constitution, he just has to tank Old Dopant's attacks and let Double go into CycloneJokerXtreme to put the hurt on him. It's still up to Ryu to end it himself, which he does by activating both the Trial Memory and the Engine Blade to deliver Death By A Thousand Cuts.
With Old Dopant down for the count, Shotaro finds himself miraculously back to normal, but that's not the point here - Ryu confronts Shroud about something that's been bugging him for some time. Those white flowers always at the Terui family memorial, conveniently growing in Shroud's corner of the woods. Yes, Shroud had been putting them there... too little too late, but as a show of remorse, it meant much, much more. Ironically, Ryu finding it in himself to forgive her for everything could be seen as the same.
Jun Kazu is also in the middle of settling his business, having just handed the suitcase and all 26 T2 Gaia Memories to an associate, who's about to embark on a very eventful helicopter trip indeed. He's somehow learned of Shroud's decision to end her scheming once and for all... but it's not going to matter in the long run, as theirs is a very long ride indeed...
Our story ends with Shotaro's time as an old man having left its own impact on him... while Akiko's apparently just had a thing going on too. A thing that involves clinging a lot closer to Ryu on occasion. Ah... yes. That thing. Shotaro clearly approves in between his teasing them, and Phillip... he wouldn't have it any other way.
More importantly, Ryu has found something else as well - peace. This is a story that didn't begin this week, and regardless of what other story is about to start, this story is finally over.
- The Artifact: Due to a planned plotline to turn Shroud into Maria S Cranberry from The Movie, Shroud's equipment included a voice changer taped to her throat to explain The Other Darrin. Due to the idea being shelved, the flashback shows her with that voice changer on her neck, which is never touched on.
- Billiards Motifs
- Call-Back: We get a whole slew of these, from the business with Isaka to the whole thing with innocent tears forming a sort of Berserk Button for Shotaro.
- Internal Homage: Old Dopant borrows from both Terror Dopant and Double (instead of being divided left-and-right, he's back-and-front)
- Not So Different
- Rousseau Was Right: according to Fukesaseya at any rate.
- Stage Mom: Good lord. This arc only happened because one mom got so jealous that another girl had the spotlight over her daughter that she paid a Dopant to turn the girl into an old lady.
- Time-Shifted Actor: Age shift, actually.
- When Elders Attack
- The Worf Effect: The days of the Xtreme Memory undoing certain conditions affecting Double are now past.
- Thanatos Gambit