CHAPTER 1: WARFARE - THREE HOURS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
"And so fifteen descended to purge the calamitous one
Two were cast out, thirteen were left
A vow was forged, imbuing his spirit with hope and determination
The two of them stood beside the thirteen
They then plunged into the abyss
The lost children's footsteps disappeared
Leaving in their stead a song of prayer
It will turn into a flame,
That will light a torch for the ones who will come after..."
- Passage of Celestia, Verse XIII
Early dawn and already an awe-inspiring spectacle can be witnessed by the people of Oresha: sunlight penetrating through the thick, greyish clouds that, for centuries, loomed without clearing. The beautiful golden light illuminated the sky, allowing people to see it as their ancestors saw it - vast, blue, and full of hope. An excessively damaged and abandoned cathedral stood basking in warm sunlight as it did when it was first constructed centuries ago. Its majesty is quite apparent as for all the time that has passed it, it still stands adamant and resolute despite its condition. The people of Oresha view the cathedral as a sign of humanity and what it has gone through over the past numerous years. Within the destroyed cathedral, rubble and remnants of its history lie in blissful and eternal tranquility. The rows of broken pews seem to know of their own boundaries as they are lined perfectly to the right and left sides of the cathedral as when they were still in use. Some of the pews were badly damaged by are still standing and could still support the weight of people. The dust on these particular pews had been displaced, a sign that they had been sat on recently.
The center walkway with its singular long carpet, red, dirtied, and damaged, led from the cathedral's massive wooden doors to the back of the church where all eyes would gather on a single religious authority standing atop a circular stone platform. Even today, the platform remains with minimal wear. The very back wall of the cathedral is essentially gone, replaced by a hole that swallowed almost the entire wall, allowing in beams of dispersing sunlight to illuminate only a part of the cathedral. The rest of the cathedral was bathed in a calming blue hue. Behind the platform is a grand statue of Celestia, the goddess of humanity. It is said in ancient prophesies that during a once calamitous time of Oresha, she was the one who created fifteen warriors armed with the power to purge evil and sent them from heaven in order to save all innocent human lives. Her statue is in immaculate condition. Not even now does the statue have any signs of damage. A miracle if one is so inclined to believe in it. Along with the allure and grace of the beautiful Celestia statue, a plentiful variety of objects were placed atop the aforementioned circular stone platform.
Lying flat on the platform is a longbow, a shotgun, two revolvers, a pair of cestuses, and a flute. Either stabbed into or propped upwards on the platform is a mace, a whip sword, a katana, a war hammer, a spear, a double-bladed scythe, a longsword, and a sabre. Beyond the weapons, there was one more object that towers above them all, a flag with the emblem of Suzaku, a mythical vermilion bird or phoenix. The cathedral was quiet, but then the sound of a cool breeze was heard entering into the cathedral through the hole in the very back wall. The breeze blew on the flag, allowing it to flutter silently in the sunlight...
[1 Year Ago]
The time of day was dusk, and instead of a night sky brimming with thousands of stars, this night was another night where the sky is murky and obscured by thick smoke that reflected the blazing red hue of fire. Even worse, it wasn't any naturally-occurring fire, but a man-made one, a one made by the Batillus Republic Grand Army and its ruthless soldiers. The scene was absolutely horrific and stomach-churning in the streets of Arma's capital. The dead and bloodied bodies of men, women, and even children no older than five years of age lined the city streets. Their blood flowed like a river and the stench of death could easily make any normal person go insane. Some bodies were charred black and stacked on top of each other with the Batillus Republic's flag impaled through the body of the deceased person stacked on top of the mound as a sign of dominance and power. But in reality, the flag was nothing more than the signature of a sick and murderous tyrant.
The cries of anguish and pain resounded through Lorica, deafening the roaring fires that plagued the once beautiful capital. Foot soldiers of the Batillus Republic Grand Army, known simply as the Grand Army for short, patrolled the streets of the city, killing any and all innocent and defenseless citizens as well as those brave enough to take a stand for their beloved kingdom. "For Arma!" one teenage civilian holding a crude sword shouted proudly before lunging towards a Grand Army soldier. Without hesitation, the soldier took his spear and plunged it through the armor-less boy's chest. Blood spurted from the boy's wound and landed onto the soldier's armor, specifically his helm to which the soldier showed no sign of fear or even shock. Grand Army soldiers were trained to be ruthless and merciless. For them to draw enemy blood is an honor. This one soldier has done himself and his country proud, at least to him.
Deeper within the city, war, or more correctly, resistance, was still occurring, but it didn't matter fore reality dealt the Kingdom of Arma a harsh hand. The Batillus Republic's full-scale invasion of the Kingdom of Arma began three weeks ago. No one expected Batillus to attack the major cities, especially since all of Arma's major cities have incredibly powerful magic infantries. However, Batillus' attack was so quick, brutal, and unnoticed that all the cities were wiped out in a matter of two weeks. And now it was Lorica's turn to fall. Once Lorica fell, Batillus will be in complete control of Arma. Fearing for their own country's safety, the Oriens Alliance and the Nox Empire immediately strengthened their defenses to be ready for any surprise invasion. Before the invasion of Arma, the war had fell into a stalemate. Now once again, the war has escalated with the invasion. "Quickly, we must defend the Peristylium!" one cloaked figure said as he and five others used their magic to create a transparent, blue dome around Lorica's central building which houses the throne room of Arma's king and all of the important documents owned by Arma's government.
Suddenly, several Batillus warships can be seen heading towards the Peristylium. Though in technical positioning the warships were quite a distance away from the Peristylium, their massive bulk makes them easily visible in the burning sky above. Also, their weapons can easily reach Arma in no time. The warships quickly opened fire, shooting huge, blindly fast ammunition at the dome protecting the Peristylium. As the rounds made impact, the explosions that occurred sent shock waves bursting through the capital. The cloaked magic users could barely stand their ground as they continued to hold up the barrier. The warships opened fire once again, but this time, aiming closer towards the ground. This time around, the rounds made impact with the stone walkway, exploding and killing the cloaked magic users. Once the smoke had cleared, not even a single trace of the cloaked figures could be seen. The powerful explosion had seared their flesh and clothing into nothing, not even ashes were left.
In the skies, Arma warships now arrived on the scene and quickly opened fire on the Batillus warships. Their magical canons were unbelievably powerful as each round ripped a massive hole through the Batillus warships, causing them to explode in a fiery blaze. However, the downside to Arma warships is that they have slow firing rates which mean it would take quite some time before the warships could fire again, and time was about the only thing they didn't have. Just as quickly as the previous ones were destroyed, more Batillus warships arrived and quickly bombarded the fewer Arma warships simultaneously.
Further away from the Peristylium, a large group of Arma soldiers successfully eliminated a group of Batillus soldiers. There were about thirty-nine of the Arma soldiers left after having ten killed by the Batillus group. These soldiers were mostly inexperienced civilians that had recently joined the army and their main method of winning battles is to fight with numbers. "Alright men, this war ain't over yet. There are still more Batillus pigs stretched out in Lorica and it's our honor-bound duty to kill them all." the commander of the group of soldiers stated. Suddenly, one of the soldiers noticed a figure in the distance. The figure stood upon the rubble of what was once a civilian home destroyed by the Batillus soldiers that were just killed. The figure wore a red hooded mantle with the hood on to hide his or her face. Only the lower half of the person's face could be seen. Surrounding the rubble were walls of flames. The hooded figure held something in their hand. Upon further inspection, the object the figure held is revealed to be a battle flag. Without speaking, the figure, with one hand, stabbed the flag onto the top of the rubble hill.
As the flag fluttered, the group of Arma soldiers saw the emblem imprinted upon the flag. It was a Batillus Republic flag. "Sir, an enemy soldier!" one Arma soldier shouted. "Open fire!" the commander stated. The group of soldiers quickly raised their rifles and began firing at the hooded figure. However, a large stone wall appeared from the rubble in front of the hooded figure. As the bullets from the soldier's rifles made impact, it seemingly caused almost no damage to the wall. The soldiers continued firing without relent, but soon ran completely out of ammunition. "Damn it, we're out and our rifles could barely penetrate that wall." one soldier said. "So that Batillus scum is a magic user huh? No matter, we have the strength of numbers on our side. There's no one that Batillus scum will be getting out of here alive." the commander said as he attached a long bayonet to his rifle which the others soon followed. By now the stone wall that protected the hooded figure had sunk back into the rubble, leaving the figure defenseless, or so the Arma soldiers thought.
The figure reached behind his waist and quickly drew a weapon, more precisely, a sabre. "That person's got a pretty nasty-looking weapon commander." one soldier said. "Humph, like I said, the scum's outnumbered. Now men, charge-" Just as the commander shouted that, he suddenly paused when he noticed something. Rising up from behind the cover of fire that surrounded the rubble was another hooded figure. "There are two enemy soldiers! Maybe that one is the magic user instead!" one soldier suggested. Suddenly, another hooded figure arose from behind the fire. "Another one? How many of them are there?" the commander asked in general. Once again another hooded figure arose, then another one, and then another one after that. One by one more hooded figures rose up, each one of them wielding their own particular weapon. Finally, all of the hooded figures have revealed themselves. There are thirteen in total. "So, thirteen of them ehh? No matter, they're still far outnumbered." the commander reassured his men.
"Chime the bells and sound the sirens to let us make the world tremble. When heaven meets earth and earth with hell, within the abyss something pulses. And when the seal is broken, a thunderous voice resounds, declaring we are upon you." the hooded figure wielding the sabre chanted. Almost immediately after, all of the hooded figures quickly grabbed their mantles and threw them high up into the air, revealing their faces and uniforms. As the Arma Soldiers saw the uniforms, they instantly knew who they had the misfortune of encountering: the fearsome Unit 13. "I-I-It's them... Unit 13 of the Grand Army!" one soldier said, awestruck with fear. The commander's eyes were wide within his helm ever since he saw their uniforms. However, as a commander of Arma and as a citizen of Lorica, he could not let his fear get the better of him. "Men, we can't fear our enemy no matter their reputation. We are Arma soldiers, proud and strong! We must fight for our country even if it means dying!" the commander shouted, instilling courage into his men. "Yes sir!" the soldiers quickly responded before rushing towards Unit 13. Suddenly, a young woman with long black hair and glasses walked to the front of the group.
"Well spoken... However, as soldiers of the Batillus Republic Grand Army, we are to follow the orders of our superiors and eliminate the enemy. Today, all of you will die deaths befitting proud soldiers." the young woman calmly stated. This woman is the leader of Unit 13, Elva. Holding up her longsword, Save the Queen, Elva gave a diagonal slash, brushing the flames aside and creating a path for her teammates to exit through. Just as the flames were pushed aside, the other members of Unit 13 rushed out to fight the Arma soldiers. "Three of you per one of them!" the commander shouted out. Following their orders, each member of Unit 13 now had three soldiers each to deal with.
Three soldiers quickly rushed towards Ace, the first hooded figure who wields a sabre in battle. All three attempted to attack Ace at once, but Ace's quickness allowed him to somersault over the three soldiers. As Ace landed on his feet, one soldier attempted to attack, but Ace quickly brought his sword up and slashed the rifle out of the soldier's hands. Ace then delivered a stab through the soldier's weak chest armor, impaling the soldier's heart, and killing him instantly. Ace pulled his bloodstained sabre from out of the soldier as one more rushed towards him. As the soldier neared Ace, he attempted a horizontal slash at Ace's head, however, Ace struck first as he slashed the soldier with a horizontal attack across his chest, rendering him bleeding on the ground. Death soon followed as the soldier quickly bled out. Two were already down and now only one soldier was left. The last soldiers hastily charged at Ace without thinking, a fatal mistake. Without speaking, Ace rushed at the soldier with his quick speed. In a zigzag pattern, Ace arrived at the soldier, cutting him down and ending his life. What Ace had just used was one of his special techniques. That one in particular is named "Sparrow Dart", alluding to the speed and maneuverability of a sparrow.
Two soldiers rushed towards Dis, a member of Unit 13 who utilizes a katana is battle. Once they got close enough, the soldiers attempted to stab Dis but in a sudden flash, their rifles were sliced cleanly in half. "What the-" the soldier was quickly killed right after he had talked. "W-Wait, what's going-" the second managed to utter before being dispatched as well. In was only a matter of a two or so seconds before the last soldier was killed by Dis, the fastest combatant of the entire Unit 13. "Sorry, but orders are orders..." Dis apologized to the three soldiers he had just dispatched. Suddenly, one soldier came up from behind Dis, ready to impale him. Dis let his guard down, and now he would have to pay the price. Dis quickly attempted to turn around but it was too late to react. "Ugh!" the soldier suddenly shouted in pain before falling face first onto the ground. Dis looked down and noticed an arrow impaled through his back in the location of his lung. Dis then looked up at Trece in the distance.
"Don't let your guard down." the archer told his teammate. "Sorry about that." Dis responded. Meanwhile, Eight, who uses a pair of cestuses, used his unique style of martial arts to finish off the soldiers that surrounded him. Despite his dislike for killing, there was no way around it for this particular battle. After knocking each soldier down, Eight would then deliver and final blow to the back of the soldiers' neck, severing their spinal columns and killing them. At least the soldiers felt no pain. One member of Unit 13 who goes by Dual walked gracefully around the battlefield playing a wooden flute. When the Arma soldiers saw this, they didn't know how to react. "What kind of person would play an instrument during combat," was the question going through their minds. Suddenly, about twenty or so shining, yellow spear heads appeared in midair surrounding the soldiers. "W-What is this-" Right as one soldier finished asking the question, the spear heads flew towards the group of soldiers, impaling them and killing them.
Elsewhere, soldiers were being smashed into a bloody pile by Cinque and her heavy mace. Then there was Kat, blasting soldiers left to right with her powerful sawed-off shotgun. Nine took to the battle with his impressive spear, slashing and stabbing his way through the Arma soldiers. His aggressive fighting style made the Arma soldiers quite fearful. From seeing how Nine fights, one would automatically think that he is some kind of sadistic murderer, however, the truth is far from it. The whole time that Nine was fighting, he had no smile on his face and his eyes even showed a hint of sorrow and regret. Even so, this is war, and killing enemy soldiers is a fundamental part of it. Elva quickly dispatched her opponents with a graceful yet deadly series of slashes.
After some time, all of the thirty-nine soldiers were dead. The group gathered, looking to Elva to give her instructions. "Alright, our mission here is to get to the Peristylium and find the central computer unit where the map of the locations of Arma’s Anima sources is stored. Then, you'll need to use the USB you received earlier to get the data. Unfortunately, since the Grand Army has no maps that can show us where to find the Peristylium, we'll just have to look for it on our own. Going as a large group won't help us reach the Peristylium any faster so we'll have to split up into smaller teams." Elva explained. "The teams will be as followed: Team 1 will consist of Ace, Nine, and myself. Team 2 will be Sei, Trece, and Kat. Team 3 will is Tolv, Cinque, Dis, and Eight. Finally, Team 4 will consist of Sheva, Trey, and Dual. Everyone clear on their team members?" Elva asked.
"Yeah." Ace simply said.
Nine gave a single nod in agreement.
"Gotcha." Kat responded.
"I understand." Trece responded.
"Alright." Cinque responded while Dual nodded at the same time.
"Got it." Dis responded.
"Noted." Eight responded.
After receiving a response from each member of Unit 13, Elva continued her instructions. "Each team will take a different route from here. Whichever team gets to the Peristylium first will contact the rest of us with the directions on how to get there. After contacting the rest of us, that team will make their way inside and find the central computer unit and collect the data. Don't waste any time, and be careful of soldiers and mechs. Finally, make sure to keep your headsets on at all times. Now then, let's continue the mission." Elva explained. After the teams were assigned, each team now took off in a different route to get to the Peristylium and to finish up this mission.