*** Strider Hiryu and all things pertaining to the Striders are copyright Capcom Entertainment. I don’t own any of their material in this story, only my original work. Hope you enjoy.



      Striders exist.

      In a world teetering on the brink of oblivion, racked with uncertainty over whether mankind can prevent its own destruction, the Striders must exist. Virtue, honor, integrity, responsibility, courage—these are the marks of a Strider, and in such a bleak world we uphold these merits for others to see, to emulate so that they are not forever lost.

      By 2046 A.D., humanity had attained great advances in technology and biological engineering. Machines—both automatons and androids—perform many daily tasks for their human masters. Cities reach previously unimaginable heights, towering skyscrapers that puncture the airspace teeming with flying vehicles and other aircraft. With these advances, however, inevitably comes the flip side of things. Law and order is barely competent, crime is epidemic. Mutants—those failed genetic experiments that live to tell the tale—often rebel and stir up trouble in the streets. Along with the eradication of mankind’s hardships followed indolence, vice, and apathy. Pollution from the great metropolises spews upward and darkens much our skies. In these times the primal instinct to survive reigns, and there is not much else to hope for.

      You may or may not be surprised by the statement, “Striders exist.” Perhaps you have never heard of the Striders, or perhaps you know of rumors, whispered here and there in dark places, of our existence. Moving shadows, skilled and lethal, never leaving a trace other than the destroyed remains of their target, both human and non-human. Striding through the moral corruption and the decay of civilization, we are for many a last beacon of hope.

      But what are the Striders, you ask? There have been many definitions portraying us over the decades. Some have labeled us ninja, after the skilled stealth assassins of old, or a futuristic incarnation of the ninja. True, targeted assassinations turn up frequently in our assignments, but we do not consider ourselves assassins. Some have called us programmed cyborg agents, mercenaries hired by governments to topple other regimes. Despite our extensive use of technology, the Striders in essence are still very much human. And no, we do not take orders from any government. Ours is a higher purpose. Some have gone so far as to describing our activities as supernatural or paranormal. Spirits, demons, even extraterrestrials…so unexplained is the myth of our existence.

      In truth, we are all of these portrayals and at the same time none of them. It’s hard to explain what we are to those that are not included in our ranks. To fully understand what it means to be a Strider, you must strive to become one of us.

      For the past sixteen years, I have served as a devoted, dedicated Strider. Our cause and purpose remain just to the few of us that are left, yet our actions become increasingly insignificant with each passing day. Fifty years ago the Striders enjoyed their heydey, literally making a difference in the world; in the past decade or so, our numbers rapidly declined. The future does not bode well for us, and anxiety over our extinction runs rampant.

      Perhaps because of this anxiety, I recently decided to retire from my long service. I had submitted my resignation to the Vice Directors’ Office some weeks ago, and still have yet to hear of their decision. A moot point, really. When a Strider resigns, it is no light matter.

      So a few days ago I preoccupied myself in the Records Office, destroying my own files and mission dossiers. Once retired, a Strider would never be heard from again. I rather looked forward to that, regaining my anonymity. Not many Striders live long enough to retire, and those that do go into seclusion. Yes, I really looked forward to that. When not at Headquarters I traveled to the mainland and drowned my sorrows in liquor, a newly discovered pleasure of mine. For me, hope became lost. Soon the Striders would disband, and whatever fate befell the planet would be.

      And then—suddenly, unexpectedly—hope sprung eternal again. Word came from Headquarters (and spread to all the remaining Striders around the world) that a new cadet had just graduated to the prestigious A class, a rank that most Striders cannot attain. A remarkable feat in itself; there was only one other living A class Strider, the Director. But there was more: the newest Strider was the youngest man ever to achieve A class. We all knew what that meant. Clearly, there was something very special about this youth. His potential, no doubt, could grow immensely and perhaps, invigorate and inspire a new generation of Striders.

      The message sent to me that day read brief and plain. The young Strider’s name was Hiryu, and he would be sent on his first preliminary mission in 24 hours. In addition, there stated a short, final assignment for me as well:

                                                                                          Follow Hiryu in secret and Monitor him.

      I understood. My retirement was to be delayed for just a bit longer…