Chapter 13:

Chapter 13 - Waking Into Catastrophe

Of Heroes and Royals

Having (rather miraculously) slept through Terra's awakening, when the Hero finally awoke, it was under a pile of rubble. The ground continued to tremble as Terra's onslaught progressed relentlessly above, and as the young man slowly opened his eyes - only to be met by darkness - he found himself perplexed by his current situation.Bookmark here

"W-What the heck?" Akio muttered. "Where am I?"Bookmark here

After effortlessly lifted up the rubble weighing him down, giving him a little space to sit up, it quickly occurred to the Hero that the floor beneath him was still of that of the training room - even if it was now covered in dirt and debris. Whatever was causing the constant earthquakes had clearly caused the ceiling to collapse. Akio's mind instantly turned to his friends and comrades, worrying for their safety. Unbeknownst to him, however, the rest of the underground resistance base was fine. It was in fact the shockwave resulting from the clash between the Boiling Blood Fist and Flameblade the night prior that had weakened the more than a century old supports of the training room, causing them to succumb to the quaking - and thus, causing the ceiling to cave in.Bookmark here

"What the heck am I gonna do now?! There's no way I can dig my way out, that'll take forever..." he groaned aloud. "Why is it that whenever something big goes down, I always end up late?! Is this some kind of twisted karma for not taking the fight with that kid yesterday seriously?!"Bookmark here

Much to his relief, Akio's exit soon revealed itself - as his eyes adjusted to the darkness, the Hero noticed a small opening a few feet away from him, where the wall of the training room had once been. From what he could tell, it looked to be some kind of crawlspace, and at the current moment, it seemed to be his only way out.Bookmark here

"Oh, this must be one of the secret passageways they installed back in the day in case they had to make a quick escape! Boy, am I lucky this place used to be a den for illegal activity." he let out a sigh of relief, before realising what he had just said. "Wait, I'm a criminal. So... it still is a den for illegal activity."Bookmark here

It wasn't often that Akio thought about labels such as "criminal" or "terrorist", which Stratus liked to paint the resistance as constantly. To him, it didn't matter what he was called, so long as he fought for what he felt was right. His reasons for fighting weren't complicated. He just wanted to help those in need, and protect his friends. But he knew that it wasn't as simple for everyone in the resistance, and those labels felt a lot heavier to some. He wished he could see the day when his friends were freed from that burden.Bookmark here

Another round of quaking brought Akio back to reality. He shook his head and started moving forward on his hands and knees.Bookmark here

"Well, nothing else to do but to start crawling... how long is this tunnel going to be, anyway?!" he complained.Bookmark here

And so, he began to crawl through the darkness. Such was how it ended up, that at its time of need, the resistance was temporarily without the aid of its hero. Elsewhere, another individual who had, despite all odds, slept through Terra's awakening, was also finally regaining consciousness.Bookmark here

As Naois slowly opened his eyes, he was confused. He could no longer see the street connected to the parking lot he was in - which had previously been in his direct line of vision from where he lay in the cargo bed of the truck. Instead, now, his vision was obscured by a boulder.Bookmark here

A large boulder.Bookmark here

Next to Apollo's truck, there was a boulder.Bookmark here

"That's weird. That wasn't there when I went to sleep last night," he observed, before shutting his eyes again.Bookmark here

And then, another quake. Naois instantly shot up, wondering what on Earth was going on - just for another boulder to come flying through the air from Terra's direction and land on the other side of the truck, only narrowly missing it (much to the boy's relief).Bookmark here

"Holy shit! What kind of fresh hell did I wake up in?" he instinctively screamed, inching away from the boulder directly in front of him, only to bump his head on the one behind him. Becoming absolutely petrified of another boulder falling from the sky, the boy slid pulled himself through the back window of the truck and into the driver's seat. "It's a good job I swiped the key from Apollo. Before I figure out what's going on, I better get the truck somewhere safe. Or else... even if I survive this... he'll just kill me...!"Bookmark here

Naois gulped as he thought about what his friend would do to him if anything happened to the truck. Using that fear as motivation, he turned on the engine and sped out of the parking lot as fast as he could, slamming his foot on the accelerator once he had made it back onto the street. A little down the road, he noticed a group of fully-armed soldiers and went into a panic.Bookmark here

"S-Soldiers too?! Seriously, what is going on here?!" he exclaimed, keeping his foot firmly on the accelerator and honking the horn.Bookmark here

The soldiers didn't exactly notice him in time, however, and much to the boy's horror - only increasing the panic he was in - one by one, they began to disappear from view, the truck beginning to bounce around from running over so many "obstacles".Bookmark here

"Get...!"Bookmark here

And another soldier fell victim to Naois' hit-and-run.Bookmark here

"Out...!"Bookmark here

And another.Bookmark here

"Of the way...!"Bookmark here

And yet another.Bookmark here

"Okay, that was absolutely not my fault! I warned you!" he yelled, before continuing to scream.Bookmark here

His screaming would, thankfully, soon be cut short. As soldiers continued to fall left and right, a hooded woman jumped down from a rooftop out of nowhere, standing in the truck's path. Naois covered his eyes as she continued to get closer - though was too panicked to take his foot off the accelerator.Bookmark here

However...Bookmark here

The woman did not fall. Instead, she simply stood in front of the vehicle, unfazed - staring at the boy through the now cracked windscreen, who slowly removed his hand from his eyes to meet her gaze. Much to his disbelief, he quickly noticed that the car's bumper was now dented, as though the truck had accelerated into a lamppost or tree.Bookmark here

It was destiny. The doctor's assistant could've been anywhere in Fiorir, but there she was - in the same area as Naois, around the same time he woke up, just in time to see a red truck speeding down the street and flattening her men. The poor boy was now in Fiera's sights.Bookmark here

"Uh-oh... looks like I drove into something important," Naois remarked, before backing up the car several yards and cautiously getting out.Bookmark here

He looked the woman up and down, observing her for a few moments. Much to his surprise, the woman beneath the hood was rather beautiful. She was rather petite, around the same height as Alice, with black hair and golden eyes. Her eyes stood out to him especially, contrasting heavily from her all-black clothing. He felt somewhat unnerved, looking at her. Though, that could've been because she had just stopped a car accelerating at 80mph as though it was nothing. That would scare anyone.Bookmark here

"I got a couple questions for you, lady..." Naois began, speaking in a rather passive-aggressive tone. "First of all, could you tell me what's the hell's going on today? I mean, there are boulders flying around, a giant monster is destroying the town, soldiers, and you just put a dent in my friend's car without even trying. But here's my second question, lady... why do I get the feeling you have something to do with all that?"Bookmark here

Without hesitation, Naois put his hands together and summoned his Flameblade.Bookmark here

"Oh, it's you. One of the children that defeated Capri and his men." Fiera responded, rather unimpressed by Naois' threat. "Do you really intend to fight me?"Bookmark here

Feeling rather ignored, Naois was quickly beginning to grow frustrated. "You know me? Wow, I'm flattered. Clearly, you do have something to do with this. So... look. I'm not really into women that are all about their pets. D'ya think you could call him off?" he asked mockingly, gesturing in Terra's direction.Bookmark here

"Heh... likewise," Fiera began, taking her scythe off her back and pointing it toward her enemy. "I dislike insolent men that prattle on and on as though they're entitled to waste my time."Bookmark here

"Tch, looks like I'm going to have to make you." Naois spat.Bookmark here

"Fine, if you insist. I believe Capri wanted to fight you, but tough luck. I'll be the one taking your life, instead." a discreet smile grew on Fiera's face as she tightened her grip on her scythe. "And I'll show you, scum, why I am known as Fiera, the Reaper!"Bookmark here

Images of his fight with Akio the day before flickered through Naois' mind. Just how easily he had lost, and how cocky he had acted before the Hero put him in his place.Bookmark here

"I'm not going to lose this one," the boy thought to himself. "Because this fight's for real. She's going to come at me... with the intent to take my life. She might have the training, years of experience, whatever. Even so... I have natural talent. I have to rely on that like I always have! This is a fight of experience versus talent, and I'm going to win!!"Bookmark here

Naois charged forward.Bookmark here

He had hardly expected the streets of Fiorir to become a battlefield, but such was what destiny had decided. The fight against his next opponent had finally begun - against the Reaper. So begun Naois versus Fiera, a fight that was no mere sparring match, but a battle to the death.Bookmark here

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