This is the start of Arc 16!
In a place far, far away, there is a world that had developed through the ages, destroying its environment, improving its technology and advancing to the stage of becoming truly modernised. The once land that was ruled by forests, trees, oceans and ice is gone, and is replaced by the height of modern science, metallic structures that made the planet appear cyber-formed. This world is known as the Alzard World.
The sky was beautiful with a few clouds here and there while the people on the ground moved about on their daily business. There were large objects with one to four people seated inside that drove a few meters off the ground while heavy traffic of similar objects could be seen high in the sky, with commuters moving along with the traffic.
On the sides of the streets, long trails of joined objects moved quickly across metallic paths and paused at stops for people to get in and out of it before continuing its passage. Similar vehicles were travelling in different directions across the world pausing at different stations before moving to the next designated stop in an endless cycle.
It was peaceful time for the people, with nothing to trouble them, until something like a shadow fell across the sunlight. At first, people thought some clouds came across the sun, but the shadow’s size continued to increase as if it was moving closed towards the ground. That was when they looked up and saw, to their horror, a metallic shape of a very large space ship emanating strange lights from it.
“Oh my god! It’s the aliens! Run for it!”
With that yell, pandemonium broke on the streets and the driving vehicles began to flee the scene as quickly as they could. Soon, the clouds were clear of traffic, except for the intimidating presence of the space ship that loomed down on the city. In the meantime, people were running in directions away from it before a few groups of people arrived on the scene to take charge and escort them to the evacuation sites.
“This way, people! Move along!” People wearing masks of different style were shouting in loud voices, with particles of light forming above their head and pointing towards the intended direction.
“Oh~! It’s the Scar Team, Drag Team and Gut Team!” Several of the people, noticing the symbols of their teams etched on their clothes and calling out their cheers for them.
Several of the people, from the three different teams, bowed deeply respectfully and said, “At your service! Now, please move along quickly. We don’t have much time!”
A few people pulled out small devices from their pocket and clicked the buttons several times before they soared into the air, leaving a trail of participles behind.
“Matthew, there are people heading in the wrong direction. See to them,” said one of the warriors moving in the sky, speaking to the microphone attached to the small device placed in his ear.
“There are old people here, Sam. Give them some help.”
“Oh man! That line’s jammed and they’re shoving! Jeez! Karter, go clear that up!”
The warriors floating in the sky were helping the warriors on the ground to escort the people to the evacuation zones located al around the city. In the meantime, two different groups were running quickly towards the space ship on the ground, which was still in its descent stage.
“So, let me get this straight. The guild wants us to attack and distract that thing until the Alpha Team and Delta Team arrive with the air support?”
“Pretty much it.”
“That sucks! They always get to fly! I want to fly!” The man said in annoyance.
“Then, blame your score that put you with us!” His companion replied, causing the man to snort in disdain.
“Look sharp! Expect the enemy would attack us at any moment!” One at the front said, who seemed to be their leader.
They scattered and took their positions to attack the ship from, extended their hand out and clicking buttons on the device. In an instant, a magic circle formed underneath them and they momentarily glowed while emanating particles, which vanished a few seconds later.
With the command, several people aimed their hands at the ship and caused a magic circle to appear at the end of their hand before launching fire balls up into the sky. They rocketed through the air and smashed into the firm steel body of the ship, letting off violent explosions, spreading smoke in al directions, but when it cleared, nothing significant could be seen.
“Not a dent!”
“Don’t stop! Keep firing!”
At the second command, some of the warriors clicked on the devices attached on their wrists and placed their hands on the ground, causing several magic circles to appear in all directions and launched several metallic spikes out of the ground. They soared up and pierced into the ship’s frame and was soon followed by several set of fire balls, which exploded on impact, causing slightly more damage than before in comparison.
As soon as the ship started to brighten its lights, the warriors understood as their two leaders shouted, “They’re retaliating,” before blinding lights were shot at them.
Sirens and beeping sounds were heard in a room with many people, dressed in professional black and white suits, seated behind monitors that displayed something. The control room buzzed with chatter as people spoke to the people over the microphone placed near their mouth while listening to the other person’s response through the headphones placed on their ears. There is a large screen at the front of the control room that displayed the map of the world, which had certain places that were highlighted in red.
All the while, a loud announcer’s voice was heard repeatedly saying in a cool calm voice, “Immanent alien attack!”
“The aliens are currently at Drabalz City!” One of the announces announced to everyone in the room.
“Get the Bravo Team and Charlie Team to head over there!” Another person responded to him, and the man nodded in reply before speaking instructions into his microphone. “While they hold the line, prep Alpha Team and Delta Team with flight devices to combat the flight units.”
“Scar Team, Drag Team and Gut Team reported in! Around 62% of the populace are evacuated!”
“Get them to hurry! This one’s a big fish!”
“Oh~! That makes me hungry.”
“Now’s not the time!”
“O! Right. Sorry.”
“All these attacks… one after another… when will they stop?”
“What’s the status?” Asked a strong, commanding voice from above.
Everyone turned on their chair and looked up to see a man wearing a similar professional suit of black and white like them, but with a badge on his left chest, displaying his rank, and a cap over his head that did not hide the spiky short hair on the back of his head. On his face, a large jagged scar ran vertically down from his forehead to his jawline, giving him a powerful look, as his eyes flashed with seriousness.
Everyone said un unison and stood up to greet him, placing their clenched fists on their right chests that had badges with the symbol of their organisation; a halo over an eagle with swords placed at an angle downward with flowers at the bottom. The commander did the same and asked his question once more, while moving forward to take a seat at the top overlooking them all.
“Sir! Sensors detect it’s a mega destroyer ship and it’s right over Drabalz City!”
“So close to the royal palace,” the commander muttered, nodding in recognition and asking, “What about the evacuation?”
“62% complete, sir!”
“Make them hurry. What about the royal palace? The highness and his family?”
“They have been evacuated to the bottom levels, sir. Star Team are protecting them.”
“That’s good,” said the commander appreciatively. “Mmm?” He just noticed that everyone was looking restless and tired
from the continuous attacks. A small smile appeared on his face, and he spoke in a smooth reassuring voice.
“Everyone is tired, feeling sleeping and exhausted from this continuous onslaught. We are humans after all, nothing like the aliens that attack us today. However, unlike many others, we never give up, not even in the harshest situations, otherwise, our evolution, our society would’ve remained set to disappear long ago, but here we are; alive and fighting. The proof of our willpower and it will continue to shine brighter than anything else to protect that which is important to us. This world is our home! Our birthplace. It kept us alive for all this time and with each sacrifice made, it survives and victory will be that much sweeter!”
He rose to his feet and extended his hand in front of him while saying, “Return to your posts! Encourage our boys! Keep them going because this is not the place for our race to die out!”
The room rang with the chorus of everyone’s firm reply to the commander’s heart moving speech. Everyone were making refreshing smiles because they knew he is a strong-willed man, without a trace or losing or giving up in his bone or blood.
Everyone returned to their seats and resumed their chatter with their correspondents over the headphones with microphone attached. The commander watched the scene and leaned slightly on his chair as his eyes shifted to the large screen of the world map, showing red highlighted objects slowly increasing in different places. This was the indication that the aliens had arrived at their destination and launched their attack.
As if in response, he moved his left hand and touched the scar on his face, reflecting on the incident that made appear there. It reminded him of the fierce battles he had been through over the years before being appointed his current position, although, he took it grudgingly because he wanted to be out there. Even so, as he sat there, deep down, he wanted to go out, help his people and slaughter the invaders.
“Why do they keep coming, though?” He thought, narrowing his eyes at the alarming increase in the red highlighted dots on the map screen. “What do they want? Colonise? Eradicate? I don’t understand their intentions…”
His thoughts were interrupted when he heard an alarmed voice say, “What?! Are you sure? Okay. Okay. I’ll let commander know.” The speaker swivelled around on his chair and looked up at his command before saying, “Sir! The princess and her Royal Guards are going to the Vault of Heroes.”
This took the commander by surprise, which made him widen his eyes in surprise and exclaimed, “What? The Vault of Heroes? Are you sure?”
The man nodded and said, “Positive, sir. Lark from Star Team reported that they are going there to summon the heroes to stop the aliens.”
This piece of news made the commander furrow his eyebrows in seriousness and say, “This is displeasing. Does the princess think we’re not powerful enough to handle them on our own? Can she really believe some… unknown persons from somewhere else could help us?” He mulled over it for a moment before saying, “Leave it to her and focus on our task at hand.”
“Yes, sir,” the man said, and returned to his chair to resume his work.
The commander leaned back on his chair with a thoughtful expression on his face and thought, “I hope you’re doing the right thing, princess, and the people you summon won’t become handful later on.”
At the moment that the commander thought those words, someone sneezed elsewhere. It was the princess, wearing a black cloak over her entire figure to hide herself from plain sight. Behind her were her Royal Guards that followed her despite her protests to go alone.
“Are you alright, princess?”
“Yes. Yes. It was just a sneeze,” the princess said softly, showing a smile from underneath the cloak hiding her face. She turned to face the door and asked, “You are sure, correct? That beyond this door lies the Vault of Heroes?”
“Yes, princess. That’s what it says here in the book we received from his highness,” a man with a staff said, leaning closer to the book in his hand. “’The Vault of Heroes is the place of summoning forth the Nine Heroes of Legends. It lies alone and untouched in the depths of the castle, locked by a door enchanted to not let anyone enter.’ Yes. This door fits the description.”
The princess nodded and stepped forward to place a hand on the dust old door. In an instant, it came to life by glowing brightly before a gentle male voice asked her a question.
“You seek passage?”
For a moment, she and everyone were surprised by the sudden voice speaking from out of nowhere. Then, recovering her composure, the princess replied, “Yes.”
There was a pause before the voice came back to say, “You seek the heroes?”
Speaking a bit more firmly, the princess said, “We are, not for our sake, but for the sake of the world. We are all in danger, and we need their help. We need their strength and power. Please, let us pass.”
Once she finished, silence remained and it lasted for several seconds before the voice replied, “Very well. You shall enter the Vault of Heroes.”
With that, a loud click was heard before the door swung open to grant them entry into its depths. The man with the stick was most surprised, saying, “My goodness! This infused magic into the door frame from our ancestors is remarkable! It’s astonishing just how greater developed it is compared to our current theological advancement in using magic.”
“Precisely why this is the Vault of Heroes,” the princess said in a quiet voice. “Now, let us enter and seek our heroes.”
Wordlessly, they went through the entrance and found lantern hung on the sides of the walls, which lit up the moment they entered. As they walked further in, the gloominess began to lighten up with the lamps turning on with their approach. A minute later, they arrived at an opening into a large rounded room with nine objects placed around in a circle. When the room lit up suddenly, they saw that a large magic circle was carved into the ground that separated each object from the other.
“Remarkable…!” The man said in a quiet voice while everyone else stared in awe. “The summoning circle and the symbols of the heroes… They’re all etched and ready for our use.” He began to count one from the other while saying, “Tempest Hero, Sonic Hero, Titanium Hero, Dynamism Hero, Zeklock Hero, Gundas Hero, Bulwark Hero, Walmakey Hero and Solaris Hero.”
“Yes. They’re all here just as promised,” said the princess, and she turned back to her Royal Guard and said, “I thank you very much for travelling with me till here, but here is the difficult part. In order to activate the summoning, it requires a great amount of energy to power the magic.”
Just then, the leading Royal Guard raised his hand and said, “You don’t need to speak any further, princess. We will help you.”
This surprised her, which was made evident when she asked, “What?” As they began to spread out to stand at different locations of the circle, she implored to them, “Please wait! I didn’t you to come, and I certainly am not asking you to help me! I will do this on my own!”
“We, as men, have a responsibility to not let women do tasks reserved for us, princess.”
“When we became knights, we swore to uphold justice and help the people, and now, it’s our chance. We will take it.”
“You’re not alone, princess. We are here. Lets us work together. We all belong to the same world after all.”
“Please don’t stop us, princess. This is our cause to help our world and our people in the best way we can.”
Their princess became quiet as her heart was touched by the self-sacrifice of her Royal Guards before she said, “You are all brave men! I thank you from the bottom of my heart! You will receive great rewards for this.”
“Saving our world, which sustained our lives till now, is the greatest reward we could ever receive, princess.”
“I told you, princess, these knights are too strongly bound by their strong knighthood,” said the man with the stick, making a wry smile on his face.
The princess smiled and said, “I appreciate them for who they are.” Then, walking forward and taking her place in front of the magic circle, she said, “Let us begin and see it through to the end.”
“As you wish!” The knights all said in a chorus.
The princess extended her right hand out, which shone slightly in the light thrown from all around. It started to glow before particles of light began to release from her as, at the same time, the same started to occur to the Royal Guards. In a few seconds, the gathering energy pooled together and ignited the magic circle carved many centuries ago into the ground.
The summoning magic circle glowed brightly in green light and each of the symbols of the heroes glowed as well. At the same time, a large amount of energy began to emanate from the magic circle, causing wind to sudden blow in the room, causing their cloaks to flutter and buffet against them. Still, they persisted in pooling their energy to make the summoning happen.
“Just a little more… I can feel it… Something’s… happening…!” The princess said and, a moment later, there was a violent flash of light that caused everything to become blinded.
Several seconds, the blinding light slowly decreased and vanished, causing the view to return to normal. The Royal Guards, the princess and the man with the stick heaved a deep sigh from the tiredness of using almost all of their energy. Recovering a little, the princess looked towards the decreasing light and saw figures, dressed in strange garments, clutching objects while in a kneeling position with their heads bowed a little.
“Are they…?” the man with the stick asked curiously.
The princess did not say anything, but a satisfied smile started to form on her face at the realisation of their success. It made her release a deep sigh in relief, which was similarly done by the other warriors, mainly from tiredness than the success of summoning their heroes. They watched the figures in silence before they started asking questions as something felt strange.
“Why aren’t they moving?”
To this common question, the princess realised something and said, “Oh. I need to speak to them.” Then, in a loud voice, she said, “O’ mighty heroes! Please awaken!”
At that, the people wearing strange assortment of clothes slowly opened their eyes and looked up. This was the point where they realised they were not in their original worlds and began making a scene out of it.
“Where am I? What is this place?”
“What’s going on? What the hell’s going on?”
“W-Who’re you people? Huh?! Who?!”
“Oh, man! What the heck is going on here?!”
Out of all of them, that were shocked, only one stood quiet from the rest of the group. He was taking in his surroundings and seemed to quickly accept the predicament they were placed in. The princess was amazed to see such an intelligence within their group, but is more amazed that he possessed an almost expressionless face. These were the people that were known as the Nine Heroes of Legends and it could be felt from the energy that seemed to radiate from them.
“Um… Excuse me,” said one of the summoned people hesitantly to the princess, “um, where are we? What happened to us?”
The princess was surprised by the friendly tone the man, who was more of a boy with the youth of his face, spoke in.
“Forgive my rudeness of not explaining this sudden event,” she said in an apologetic tone and bowed a little before raising her head and saying, “You are people from another world that we summoned to our world because we need your help, we need your strength and we really need your power to save us.”
This startled all the summoned men, who remained silent for a moment before the polite speaker asked, “Um… Can we know who you are?”
The princess smiled brightly and removed the hood covering her face, revealing her splendid beauty that startled all the summoned people. She took the hem of her robes and elegantly bowed slightly before straightening up and saying, “I am Erza Flameheart. Princess of the Flameheart Kingdom.”
One of the summoned people whistled at her introduction and began whispering to one another. While she continued to smile, the man with the stick walked over to her and asked in a low voice.
“There doesn’t seem to be any language issues, princess. Is this perhaps also the power of their status as Nine Heroes of Legends?”
“Yes. I believe so,” replied Erza, continuing to smile at them.
“Mmm,” the man with the stick said, running a hand through his beard as if he was thinking about something. A moment later, he laid out his thoughts and said, “Princess, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there are only eight of them here.”
“Eh?” Erza asked, taken by surprise by the sudden count of numbers.
Glancing at them, she quickly counted to find that only eight of them were there, with the ninth member missing. She saw that each of them were standing inside the circle with their respective hero symbol etched on it, but the person standing on the symbol of the Solaris Hero was missing.
“We’re missing the Solaris Hero,” she muttered, her smile fading, and her eyes widening in alarm.