Chapter 11:

Chapter 11 - The Earth Trembles

Of Heroes and Royals

All was quiet in the town of Fiorir. The sun was beginning to rise over the Cherry Blossom Town, as most of its residents - the resistance, the future Hero Queen, and her friends included - slept.Bookmark here

A few early risers dotted its otherwise empty streets.Bookmark here

Everything was as it should be. A blissful silence.Bookmark here

Silence.Bookmark here

Until, all of a sudden...Bookmark here

A roar. A terrible ear-piercing roar that not one person in that town was spared from hearing, that echoed out for miles.Bookmark here

Then, the quaking. The ground shook with tremendous strength, unlike anything that had come before it. In homes, shelves and cabinets toppled over like dominos as their contents spilled everywhere. In the streets, people that hadn't already lost their balance and were flung into nearby buildings as the town's river flooded over.Bookmark here

And finally, there was the shockwave.Bookmark here

Something struck the Earth, and it struck it hard.Bookmark here

In an instant, directed in a straight line and far out into the countryside, that shockwave ended countless lives. Houses crumbled as the ground tore apart. Debris, dirt, trees, and everything else in its path were sent flying.Bookmark here

And that was how Operation Terra officially began.Bookmark here

For a few moments after, there was silence. Peace, once more. Briefly.Bookmark here

People peered out of windows and came out of their houses to look at it. Their faces all read the same. Absolute, overwhelming fear. In that moment, that's all there was. Silence and fear.Bookmark here

The sound, the quaking, everything... it had woken Alice up, too.Bookmark here

"W-What on Earth was that...?" she muttered. Ordinarily, upon waking up, the girl would've been groggy for at least several minutes. But right now, anxiety seemed to be taking precedence, and she could feel her heart begin to race quicker and quicker.Bookmark here

Ciela bust through the door as she had just begun to make her way over to the balcony.Bookmark here

"Alice! Are you okay?!" she exclaimed, her voice fraught with worry.Bookmark here

"I-I'm fine! What's going on?" she answered quickly, taking her friend's hand in an effort to feel safer.Bookmark here

Ciela could tell the girl was scared, so forced herself to wear a brave face. "No idea. Let's take a look."Bookmark here

And then they saw it, their eyes imbued with horror in an instant.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, the Captain of the resistance was in the same place he had been a few hours earlier, silently brooding and keeping his eye on the monitors in the base's main room. At the very same moment the roar had begun, he had watched every monitor turn red simultaneously as they began to blare a warning alarm.Bookmark here

"How is this... possible?"Bookmark here

What the Captain was looking at caught even him off-guard. As he'd watched the mountain change shape on the monitor, his hands had begun to shake a little. The moment he noticed, the man clenched his fists, doing his best to keep himself calm.Bookmark here

"The mountain's magic power is increasing... hundreds, if not thousands of times! That's no mountain... what the hell did you do this time, Doctor?!" he exclaimed angrily.Bookmark here

At that moment, Apollo and Mirri came rushing into the room. Mirri too, had woken up the moment everything had begun, and Apollo had put the book he was reading down the instant anxiety plus confusion took over.Bookmark here

"Captain! What's going on? What was that all about?" Apollo quickly asked, the concern in his voice clear.Bookmark here

Rather than answering, the Captain simply directed them toward the monitors - which spoke for themselves. There they saw the truth, which had perplexed them all throughout the night before, with their own eyes.Bookmark here

The mountain was no mountain. At least not anymore.Bookmark here

Now, what was stood by the cherry blossom town was a gargantuan beast. It looked as though the mountain had sprouted four limbs - made of dirt, rock, and all kinds of greenery - and formed a face on its highest peak. One might say its appearance mimicked that of a gorilla, resting on all fours with strong forearms shouldering much of its bodyweight.Bookmark here

The beast looked down at the tiny town before him from behind empty, orange eyes. He didn't remember much of who or what he was, and yet, what he had to do seemed so obvious.Bookmark here

And then...Bookmark here

...that brief moment of quiet ended.Bookmark here

And the onslaught began.Bookmark here

The beast slammed its strong arms down into the Earth once more, sending more shockwaves through the town. More homes were destroyed. More lives were ended. Its movement was slow - likely due to its immense size - but it mattered not, for who would be able to stop such almighty power, anyhow?Bookmark here

Screaming filled the streets. Now that they realised their lives were most certainly in danger, the residents of Fiorir descended into mass panic.Bookmark here

The continuing shockwaves weren't all they had to worry about, though.Bookmark here

Each time the beast would swing its mighty arms, large boulders and rocks would come flying out in random directions.Bookmark here

Into houses they flew, shattering walls and windows in dramatic fashion. Sometimes they would crash into the streets, crushing residents and ending their lives as they did - leaving behind only trickles of red liquid seeping out from underneath the boulder.Bookmark here

In just a few moments, the town had descended into total chaos. But the beast wasn't even the full extent of their troubles.Bookmark here

As the Captain, Apollo, Mirri and several other resistance members watched the destruction unfold on the monitors, paralysed by shock, the ground shaking all the while - Benson and Wallace came running into the room with yet worse news to share.Bookmark here

"Captain! It's an emergency!" Benson proclaimed loudly.Bookmark here

The Captain slowly turned away from the monitors to face the man. "We know, Benson."Bookmark here

"Cap, it's not just the mountain!" Wallace chimed in. "Imperial Army airships... they're approaching the town on all sides!"Bookmark here

The Captain's eyes widened.Bookmark here

"Tell me your joking, guys. Now would be a really great time for a joke," he responded with a nervous chuckle.Bookmark here

The technician's faces turned sour.Bookmark here

The Captain let out a grave sigh. "Then it's really... a worst-case scenario. They found us."Bookmark here

As the resistance continued to watch the beast cause mass destruction on the monitors, the Captain shut his eyes and went silent. He needed to take a few moments to weigh their options.Bookmark here

As he did so, elsewhere, an adversary was also silently watching events unfold. You see, one of the airships that Wallace mentioned was in fact quite peculiar.Bookmark here

Rather than being filled with soldiers shipped to Fiorir with the express purpose of destroying the resistance, this one was rather empty. Rather than being filled with soldiers and battle gear, within the small, metallic black airship was a dining table and a scientist.Bookmark here

One Doctor General Azazel, the who had put Operation Terra into motion.Bookmark here

This airship was quite unique - it was one of the only ones present that had a window. You could say it was more like a luxury private jet than a military airship. Regardless, from that window, he planned on watching his plan unfold, in the comfort of a soft chair while drinking tea.Bookmark here

"Ah, thank you, my dear. Well done, well done," he said with a chuckle, as his black-haired assistant Fiera poured the first cup from a fresh pot of tea. "Are you all ready for battle?"Bookmark here

And indeed, Fiera was. She was outfitted in a lightweight, black cloak and a had a scythe resting on her back. This was her usual battle attire, and it had earned her the nickname "Reaper".Bookmark here

"Yes, sir. All other units are ready to be deployed. And as you can see, the entity has already begun to do its part." she answered obediently.Bookmark here

"Indeed, indeed he has! It's wonderful! Magnificent! Incredible, my dear! It'll be quite the show."Bookmark here

Again, following the Doctor's words came a chuckle that most would have found unnerving.Bookmark here

"Yes, it is truly..." Fiera began, before pausing for a brief moment to check something scribbled in black marker on her palm. "Uh, glamorous, indeed."Bookmark here

The Doctor smiled and took a sip of his tea. The steam fogged up the lenses of the goggles he was wearing, but this didn't seem to faze him at all. He continued to stare out the window, enjoying every moment of seeing his hard work come to fruition.Bookmark here

"Go."Bookmark here

"Yes, at once, sir."Bookmark here

And with a slight smile on her face, Fiera jumped out of the airship, down onto the rooftops of the town below.Bookmark here

Back at the resistance base, as members patiently awaited the Captain's decision and all eyes were still on the monitors along with the terrible destruction they displayed, Mirri was coming to a terrifying realisation. After watching the beast for long enough, things had suddenly clicked in her mind.Bookmark here

"How did I... not realise this sooner...?" she mumbled to herself.Bookmark here

Apollo overheard her, quickly becoming concerned. "What is it, Mirri? Realise what?"Bookmark here

He watched helplessly as the girl began to tremble in fear. "The Old Gods... that thing, it's...!Bookmark here

And then she took off running. Benson and Wallace watched her leave, but it was only Apollo that took after the clearly terrified girl. Out of the resistance base she ran, through the bar, and out into the street.Bookmark here

Mirri looked up at the beast and bit her lip, as though her suspicions had been confirmed.Bookmark here

"What is it, Mirri? Do you know what that thing is?!" Apollo pleaded as he caught up to her, placing his hand on his new friend's shoulder.Bookmark here

Taking a deep breath, Mirri gave the young man a deadly serious look as she pointed at the beast in the distance. "Yeah... I know exactly what it is, because I've read about this. It doesn't make sense, and I don't know how or why he's here, but... there's no doubt. The living mountain... that's the God of Earth, Terra!"Bookmark here

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