Heroes of the Past
Did Kuan press a wrong button? I heard shouts of pain and knew something was wrong. I conjured a flame in my hand just as the lights turned on again. Four people, wearing masks , stood over Bartholomew and Ichaival. Tess fought a woman with a butterfly mask, struggling against her opponent.
“What the hell is going on?” I exclaimed.
Jacque was knocked out, slumped over his seat. One of the masked individuals grabbed Shan, smashing his head into the ground. Shan’s eyes widened in surprise and he moved his right hand. I expected the assailant to fall but they remained standing. The attacker punted Shan in the head and kicked the gravity manipulator’s stomach. Shan groaned, eyes shut.
Who the fuck were these people? Zhuyu and Kuan descended from the announcer’s booth, but were met by Shan’s assailant. Kuan fired off bullets but each one fell to the ground before reaching their intended target. The masked person grasped both Kuan and Zhuyu by the neck, hurling them through the announcer’s booth. I tried moving but found myself unable to. The person, who disposed Zhuyu and Kuan, wagged their finger at me.
“Tomo, escape!” Tess shouted as the butterfly-masked woman struck her in the stomach.
The masked attacker tossed Zhuyu and Kuan down onto the battlefield. Both heroes were knocked out cold. The enemy descended, staring at me. Lionel sneaked up behind them but it was no use. He flew into the air and struck the ceiling. Lilith caught the opponent with her strings and detonated explosions around them. They raised their right hand, nullifying her attack. They snapped their fingers, drawing Lilith towards them. With one chop to the neck, the leader collapsed, meeting the same fate as Shan and the others. Ksi frantically parried another masked enemy but was struck down. She readied her spear, but the attacker snapped it in half. She was thrown into the wall, unconscious like everyone else. Lilith’s second-in-command was dealt with easily. Only Tess and I remained.
I regained my movement and slashed at the masked person near me. They clapped and I felt myself rooted to the ground. This sensation, it was Zhuyu’s power, but also contained the essence of Shan’s power too. The attacker opened up a portal and threw me into it. I appeared where Tess stood and saw blood spilling out of her mouth. Who the fuck were these people?
“Gatekeeper, you can’t win, not against us! We are the true heroes,” the masked woman taunted.
“What nonsense. There is no such thing,” Tess countered, wrapping a chain around the woman’s neck.
“Leave it to us, Tess! You and your friends won’t have to do anything anymore,” the masked woman suggested, snapping Tess’ chain with ease.
At an earlier time, I might have welcomed that, but now was a different story. I was just getting into this. Even if it was a hassle, I wanted to finish things on my own terms. It was foolish and hypocritical. In reality, it was a blessing for such an opportunity to arise. Still,I would go against my better judgment.
“Fuck you! I haven’t started anything yet! Don’t give me this bullshit about taking it away because it’s a burden,” I shouted at her.
“I expected such an answer. Listen, this isn’t a suggestion, but a mandate. A revolution to bring in a new group that can actually accomplish goals and bring back peace,” the butterfly- masked woman declared.
Tess brought the woman down to the ground. Her allies arrived, backing her up. What was going on here? A magical circle appeared, binding me to the floor. I felt my strength sapping away. Tess got in a few good hits, knocking off her butterfly mask. Of course, what else should I expect?
“I did promise we would meet again,” Mirei said, staring at me.
“I knew something was wrong, but couldn’t prove it,” I coughed, finding it hard to breath.
“Ichizen’s death unlocked your powers and it did the same for me,” Mirei revealed, pulling out a necklace from underneath her shirt.
“What? But I thought….,” I stuttered.
“Two days, Yuki, you decide what to do. Let us handle things or fight us. Your choice,” Mirei announced, holding up two fingers.
“And if…,” I objected.
“No more talk,” Mirei cut me off.
She delivered a brutal blow to Tess. The Gatekeeper fell, gasping for breath. I saw pain and frustration appear on her face for the first time. Mirei summoned chains of her own, binding the leader. Tess struggled, unable to break free. Ichizen’s sister motioned to her companions. The last thing I recalled before blacking out was Mirei’s face.
Mirei sensed the arrival of someone. Her allies noticed too, shifting their attention away from the heroes. The orange-haired woman walked through the facility entrance door, clapping with excitement.
“An excellent execution. You all get a passing grade. Be proud of how far you have come,” the woman complimented, walking toward Tess.
“It’s you,” the Gatekeeper said, coughing out blood.
“Oh, my dear Gatekeeper, your time is up. The spotlight no longer favors you. Let the next generation carry the burden,” the masked woman requested, lifting up the leader’s chin with her gloved hand.
“I’m afraid I must decline. You lack the responsibility and willpower. That much I’ve gleaned from your actions,” Tess refused, responding with a piercing stare.
“Your pride will be your downfall, Tess. Just like the rest of your team,” the woman warned, slapping Tess in the face.
Mirei glanced over at her, awaiting orders. The masked woman pulled out a perfume bottle, spraying its contents into the hero’s face. Tess slumped to the ground, knocked unconscious. She distributed her incapacitating agent, instructing them to apply it to all the heroes present within the area.
“Miss Ichizen, a word with you, please?” she called her over.
“Something wrong?” Mirei replied.
“No, I would like to congratulate you once more. You and your team have far exceeded any expectations I set for my prototypes. I must thank you for that,” she revealed, giving Mirei a sudden hug.
Mirei nodded, taken aback by the woman’s gesture. She never sought validation for completing the assigned task. The only driving factor really was her brother, but even that wasn’t really the truth either.
“No one touches Tomo Yuki. I will handle her myself,” the masked woman ordered.
Ichizen’s sister ascended to the broadcast booth, desiring a higher vantage point. She observed her allies dragging the knocked-out heroes onto the battlefield. The woman then noticed someone missing. All the heroes were accounted for, but where was Kaisi Konoe? Mirei returned to the base level, calling over one of her accomplices.
“Where’s Felicity?” Mirei questioned.
“Oh, you’re right! She wasn’t here when we began our attack,” her subordinate answered, surveying the room.
“Don’t worry about Miss Kaisi. She’s just a citizen, no involvement with the inner workings of the heroes,” the masked woman revealed, overhearing Mirei’s concern.
“What’s next?” Mirei asked.
“You’ll track down the heroes not part of our little party. Rough them up, but not too much. We want them to know we’re serious,” she commanded.
Mirei sent two of her associates to carry out the mission. She and one other ally remained behind, monitoring the situation here. The masked woman departed, leaving them to handle any potential issues.
“Do you think we can just take it easy now?” Mirei’s ally questioned, sitting down in the bleacher seats.
“No, if she’s right, then we’re going to have to take care of some people coming soon,” Mirei replied, adjusting her mask.
The SIU captain, along with two of his officers, burst into the training facility from the supply closet. Former Princess Fei joined them, exiting from a ceiling portal. She grappled Mirei’s associate, tossing her to the ground, rendering her unconscious. The woman snapped her fingers, plunging the area into darkness.
“Give me warning when you do that,” the SIU captain complained into his earpiece.
His vision returned after one minute. Both of his allies were unconscious on the ground. This was expected, especially after the analysis results from his last encounter with the masked woman. Mirei’s butterfly mask glowed blue, resulting in an azure spectral knight appearing behind her.
“You take care of her,” Fei directed, battling the knight.
Ichizen’s sister hurled a glass bottle at the man, detonating it in the air. Smoke drifted out, resulting in a nauseous smell. The SIU captain didn’t fall for the same trick again, already donning a gas mask. He unhooked a miniature grenade from his belt, tossing it onto the ground. It rolled towards Mirei and exploded, generating an anti-magic field.
Fei’s right fist glowed, and she punched the knight’s chest. Her opponent glanced downward as a crack appeared in its armor. The woman followed up with a hard kick, shattering the chest piece, revealing a glowing orb.
Mirei placed her left hand on the ground, trying to dispel the field. She was confident it would vanish, but it remained active. The SIU captain dashed in with his hunter’s knife, aiming for the woman’s mask. Ichizen’s sister dodged and reached for his neck. He swung his elbow backward, knocking her hand away. He spun around, targeting her mask again. The man missed but cut a strand of her hair instead.
“So annoying,” she commented.
Flames enveloped the azure knight and Fei retreated. Her enemy swung its blade downward, generating magical waves. She leaped into the air, avoiding the attack. Beams of light struck the knight’s helmet, removing the dangerous flames around its head. The woman slammed her left palm into its visor, breaking it off. The knight stumbled, plunging its sword into the ground to prevent a bad fall. Fei broke the blade with a kick, and punched her foe’s helmet, sending its head flying off. She snapped her fingers again, and three beams of light streamed downward, trapping the knight.
“Didn’t think you put up so much of a fight. Time to leave. I’ve stalled long enough,” Mirei announced, finally destroying the anti-magic field.
She pinned the SIU captain to the ground as a magical circle formed underneath him. He was powerless, no tools in his arsenal capable of allowing him to escape. Mirei then turned her attention to Fei. A binding circle developed underneath the former princess’ feet. She stomped on the ground, halting its progress, and destroyed it. An outline of a giant blue butterfly appeared behind Mirei. She, along with her associate, disintegrated into blue particles of light. Fei rushed over but the knight, returned to its pre-battle form, blocked her. It vanished five seconds later.
“Tess, you’re lucky I was available to answer your SOS call. Although, you were worried about something like this last time we spoke,” Fei said, waking the Gatekeeper.
The SIU captain joined them, swapping information. To incapacitate all the heroes, even Tess and Lilith, they were powerful. However, he suspected it was only possible because of those strange occurrences involving masks near the outskirts. The man still wasn’t clear on their motives. Targeting Tess meant it extended far beyond just the Crossroads now. It could develop into a potential interdimensional crisis.