Chapter 9: The First Assault
The morning rose in the new Bionis. Shulk had nothing on his schedule, so today was a free day. He felt like he needed some productivity to ease his body and mind. As a result, the blonde boy marched to his new lab located in the basement of his new house. The interior design resembled his old laboratory: his work desk on the lower right corner to overview the blueprints of his creations, whatever the mechanical contraptions on the opposite side, and lastly the very center where the Monado used to be placed. It felt like walking on memory lane. Shulk recalled the countless memories where he spent his time deciphering the hidden powers that the Monado once stored.
"It's actually been some time since I've been here," he muttered to himself. A little smile shown from his lips. "Ever since Dunban, Fiora, Reyn, and I built this lab for my house, I hardly use it."
At the center, the Homs noticed that nothing was placed on the holder. He tilted his head and widened his eyes by a bit. His lab now served a new purpose.
"Well, it's time to change things up here a bit," he chuckled as he walked to his desk. On it, there were large papers, various types of pencils, and different measuring tools for possible weapon development. "Hold on, I just have one problem: I don't know what to create."
Shulk had to think hard on this unproductive morning for him to succeed with his plans. Nothing really sparked.
"Man, if I can't think of a good idea, then- "
Before he could finish his sentence, he heard footsteps coming down to his lab. Shulk did not panic since he knew who would have entered his abode.
"Come on, Shulk, there's a world out there to explore and you're going to spend it on being in this place?" A voice he instantly recognized as she walked and sat next to him.
"Today I felt I needed to be productive, so I thought I should be here and try to create something."
"Like a weapon?"
"I'm not sure," he leaned back on his chair. "There hasn't been much need for weapons here, just monsters should they interfere with the people's lives."
"And it stays that way," Fiora firmly said. "Ever since Zanza was gone, every day felt peaceful and calming as it should be without any unnecessary fights."
"It feels great," he moved his head back so he looked at the ceiling. "Who knew that we get to meet new people outside our world?"
"Oh, I already miss them," the thought of meeting their friends in Alrest and Mira again was something they want to do again. "Hey, we should surprise Rex and his friends in Alrest."
"Now that's something I can get behind," Shulk was more than excited to explore Alrest and do whatever he can. "It probably beats making something from this lab."
"You can't go back to that time when you always are here figuring out the Monado," she pointed out.
"I won't," he reassured her. "Those days are long gone. I only came here to make some use of this lab since it's now in my house."
"That's true and you were keen on having it when we built your house," his girlfriend then grabbed a drawing pencil and a ruler. "Then let's get creative!"
"I just need an idea," he started musing on what to draw.
"Here's another sheet of paper for you while I make preliminary drawings for you," she smiled at her boyfriend.
"Thanks, Fiora, you're awesome."
"You're a sweetheart, Shulk. Don't ever change," the female Homs began to sketch whatever idea popped up in her head. She sketched a long line upward before drawing down like a parallel line. The gap between the two lines were fairly wide. At the top, there was downward concave of the line, which meant it was a continuous line. Shulk was curious to know what Fiora was trying to create. He took a quick peak.
She noticed from her peripheral vision and covered her sketch. "No peaking, Shulk! Focus on your work!"
"I just wanted to see what you were drawing," he answered. "You look like you knew what you were drawing. I bet it looks great."
"Well, it's only the start," she still was not going to reveal her content. "Just don't steal my work, okay?"
Her wink made Shulk chuckle. "I won't. I haven't figured out what I want to create yet."
"It'll come to you. I'm sure of it."
Unlike his girlfriend, Shulk had a difficult time brainstorming whatever came into his mind. He needed a concrete idea before materializing that visualization into the paper. After an hour of preliminary sketches, Shulk and Fiora were ready to present what they have drawn. Shulk felt a bit uneasy considering that Fiora had a stack of paper while he did not have much on him.
"I can't wait to see what you have," she excitedly said, slamming her papers on the desk. "I may have thought too much."
"It's like you wrote a book," he initially was daunted by the amount of paper his girlfriend used.
"Let me show you what I've thought!" She presented one of the stacks. "We haven't been getting that much fish lately, so I thought of a fishing rod that detects where a school of fish can be nearby. All you have to do is place the tip of the rod in the water and it'll scan the range. Once you find fish, then boom! Lots of fishes you can find and reel in!"
"That can resolve the fact that we don't go out into the ocean far enough to catch fish," he placed his right finger and thumb on his chin.
"Well, that's only a part of it."
"Only part of-"
"Colony 9 isn't necessarily the primary place for boating BUT by building a few and with some practice, it'll significantly help our fishing problem."
"With that information, it's a great idea to help our supply of fish," he nodded. "But it's not the only thing you thought of."
"I have plenty of others," she presented another blueprint. "Lately, the residents here have concerns with so many Nopon migrating to our colony. As a result, they don't have much space to fit in. I propose we build a nice, large house for them to comfortably live in. It'll be a huge project as it'll take a bunch of strong Homs, Machina, High Entia, and Nopon to construct such a thing."
"That would require many materials and money to bring that house into fruition," he liked Fiora's second idea just as much as the first one. "Riki did mention that Nopons from Makna are visiting our new colony quite frequently."
"I do love seeing lots of people coming to the colony and enjoy the calming life we live. Besides talking about our home, I got more stuff to tell you."
"Go on. I like to see more, Fiora."
Shulk's girlfriend showed him her next drawing, which was different from the previous two. "This one is a bit more personal. I was thinking of making a nice watch for Melia."
"A watch?" He tilted his head and furrowed his eyes.
"Melia and I were hanging out the other day. She noticed some Homs wearing watches and was fascinated by those designs. I could tell she wanted to wear one because she really was intrigued that a 'device capable of telling the time of day on a Homs' wrist'."
"Did she really say that? Has Melia really never seen a watch before?" Shulk was just as surprised as Fiora realizing that the High Entia have never thought about creating watches to tell time.
"Surprisingly, yes. I know you can fix watches, but I'm certain that you and I can make one."
"With some preparation, I can build a watch in no time."
Fiora giggled at Shulk's unintentional joke but he was unsure why. The male Homs realized that Fiora's stack of paper barely looked different in size, which made him feel a bit bad that he could not produce that many ideas compared to her.
"What is it?"
"I want to see what you have thought of," her eyes focused on her lover's eyes.
"I know it's minuscule compared to mine, but any idea is still something."
"Well, I only have one," he said with slight embarrassment.
"It's fine, Shulk. I'm sure it must be meaningful for you regardless."
"The idea I drew was building another driver for Reyn," he said before explaining. "I know we don't fight as much now, but I think it would be nice if I created another weapon for Reyn as a way of him always being by my side when we set off to avenge you, Fiora."
Fiora could not help but smile that Shulk had thought of something so profound. "That's very sweet of you to make Reyn another weapon as a token of your friendship."
"It felt right for me to return the favor," Shulk gazed at his drawing before showing it to Fiora. "It took me awhile to draw this to get a good picture of how I want to make it."
Compared to Fiora's drawing, it was like night and day. He had spent so much time on one project that the blueprint was drawn with excellent precision. Every single part of the driver weapon was thought out with every possible feature included.
"Amazing," she was mesmerized by his art. "Mine looks like it was drawn by one of Riki's littlepons."
"Not true," he refuted. "I'd say your drawing is better than a littlepon."
"You tease," she giggled. "Anyways, whatever choice you pick, I'm ok with it."
"Thanks, Fiora. You're awesome," his warm smile was caught by Fiora's emerald eyes. The two leaned closer to each other with their lips inches away from touching.
"Oi! Shulk, you in here? I was wondering if you were bu- "
The individual saw Shulk and Fiora look back who entered the seer's house. They blushed since it was their friend who walked in with the most unfortunate timing.
"Well, I guess you were busy with Fiora," the auburn-haired man crossed his arms and made a sly smirk.
"She's helping me with something, Reyn," Shulk asserted, a bit embarrassed that someone came in while he was sharing a moment with his girlfriend.
"Oh, I can guess what she was helping you with," he could not resist and had to seize it.
"Alright, Reyn, enough with your blabber," Fiora raised her voice to stop him from teasing Shulk.
"Man, you sounded like Dunban there," he stretched his neck before sitting down next to his friends.
She pretended that she did not hear that last sentence. Shulk furtively hid his paper underneath Fiora's pile of drawings without Reyn noticing.
"Anyways, what were you guys doing down here anyways?"
Shulk was hesitant on telling Reyn about his secret gift for him. It would ruin the surprise for a friend. At the same time, he did not want to lie and deceive just to give him a surprise. Given the situation, the Homs had no chance but to quickly respond to Reyn's question.
"Shulk wanted to make something but couldn't figure it out, so we decided to work together on brainstorming ideas," Fiora instantly responded. She nudged her boyfriend's left arm signaling to play along with her words carefully.
"I thought I would at least make some use of this laboratory since it's been hardly used," Shulk answered in which Fiora nodded her head slightly.
"I mean you ain't wrong," he agreed. Reyn noticed a stack of papers in front of the female Homs. "Looks like you guys thought about a lot on this project or something."
"We'll need a good break from this."
"Good thing I'm here," he readied his right arm. "I was going to ask you two if you want to do something today. Ol' Squaretache gave me a few days off, so I thought I could spend those days with you guys."
Fiora suddenly whispered into Shulk's ear, "Hey, Shulk. Do you think that we should show Reyn Alrest? I think it would be pretty fun."
In response, Shulk also whispered to her ear.
"Oi! At least say it out loud. I can't tell what you guys are going to say!" Reyn felt annoyed that they were teasing him back.
"I don't see why not," Shulk murmured. "I want to introduce him to Rex and the others."
"Sounds like a wonderful idea!" She cheered loudly.
"What is this idea you're speaking of? Can I at least hear it?" Reyn asked.
"Fiora and I were thinking that we should take you to this world first. You'll likely not believe it at first."
"Go on," he seemed vastly intrigued since he was not expecting something so grand and new. "I'm listening."
"I think it's better to show it to you rather than explaining it."
"Now that's more like it," he bumped his fists together, exuberant by this new world that Shulk and Fiora supposedly discovered. "Come on then, show it to me."
Shulk and Fiora escorted Reyn to Outlook Park. Upon reaching there, it looked like the regular park that Shulk, Fiora, and Reyn would go to growing up. So far, he was beginning to be disappointed if whatever his friends were talking about turned out to be a prank.
"Is this some kind of prank?"
"No, no. That's not it at all," Shulk was a bit shocked to see the small light not appearing in front of them. "It should appear here if we wanted to go there."
"Well, it ain't working so far. You sure you weren't imagining things, Shulk?"
"I wasn't and neither was Fiora."
"It's true!" Fiora defended Shulk. "We were walking here one day and a small ball of light appeared out of nowhere, and we just stumbled into some strange universe."
Reyn took several steps forward, looked around the park, and closed his eyes with disappointment. "Well, I don' see this ball of light you're speaking of."
"Reyn, believe us," Fiora was hurt to see her friend feel deceived.
"Man, I can't believe I got worked up over nothing."
"Unless you find this ball of light, I'm just gonna workout for now," he walked past his friends without looking at them.
"Reyn, wait," Shulk reached for him but his friend did not stop.
"I'll be at Tephra Cave if you need me for anythiiiiiiinnnnnnnngggggggg!" suddenly the ball of light appeared in front of him and the portal opened causing him to enter before he reacted to it.
"Reyn!" they both shouted his name.
"Opened almost exactly how we came upon it. Strange," his girlfriend was confused on how that occurred in such a fashion. She tried to wrap her head for that rare occurrence.
"Right now, let's go after Reyn."
At the land of challenge, the auburn-haired man stumbled before slipping and falling down to the ground. He coughed from the rubble he tasted and held his forehead from the slight pain. Reyn slowly got up and groaned in annoyance.
"Where on Bionis am I? This don' look familiar," he then heard footsteps behind him, so he naturally looked back, only to see his friends. Not only that, he was also flabbergasted by their supposedly new appearance. "Shulk! Fiora! What on Bionis is this place? And uh… you two look different."
"About that," Shulk awkwardly laughed, which confused Reyn. "So, do you."
He had to look at his own arms. Upon gazing at his own body, Reyn realized that he appeared much younger than he actually is. He then placed his right hand on his forehead wrapping everything that was in front of him.
"Does this new world you two keep yappin' about make us look like kids?"
"It could be," Fiora humorously responded.
"It's like this because this universe is created like that," Shulk answered to the best he could. "I know you think this place isn't much, but there's a bit more to it."
"What do you mean?"
Shulk gestured Reyn to follow him to the other side of where they stood. Once they were stood at the spot where the Alrest heroes entered, Reyn noticed another portal just like the one he stumbled onto earlier. His eyes widened because he was excited to witness what might happen next.
"Through this light, it will send us to another world unlike the Bionis," the Homs said before stepping closer to the shining, condensed crystal. "We promised we take you to this place."
Fiora simply entered the light without saying anything, just following him. Reyn only expressed exuberance to travel somewhere completely new with his friends. It reminded him of their days of adventure. That feeling was coming back to him, so he ran into the light, marking his first travels of Alrest.
"Man! I'm so bored here," the Commandment of Faith whined while laying on his back and looking up at the ominous shadows above him. "How long do we have to stay here?! It feels like being in prison here."
"Patience, my fellow Commandment," said by the Commandment of Piety who tried summoning his vision. "Our powers are still not fully restored yet. In our current state, we'll surely be defeated easily."
"My lord," the Reticence Commandment said. "Are you able to see your visions?"
"Unfortunately, not," Zanza reluctantly said. "It seems that I've underestimated how much strength I've lost. Despite that, my Commandment gives me sufficient power that our plan would have a near success as long as our enemies do not join together."
"Do not take any action yet. It's still too early to decide when we should commence our plan."
"You are right. Who knows how long until we gain enough strength to carry out the mission?"
"I'm not going to be crammed in here forever; I need some fresh air," Mumkhar got up and readied his claws.
"Are you thinking about leaving this place?"
"Not necessarily," he smirked. "I just want to get some exercise that isn't inside some void."
"The Archsage doesn't want any of us to go anywhere," Amalthus of Benevolence said while standing erect and musing about something. "You run the risk of our enemies may spot you. If they do, you'll likely be killed."
"That'll only happen if that Shulk or Dunban see me," he defended himself. "Besides, I ain't that stupid. I don't plan on going back to Colony 9 and try to kill them again alone."
"Then where are you going?"
"From what that alien freak over there said to me, this Mira place don't sound too bad to fuck around. I'll just head over there, kill some beasts, and come right back."
"If you really live up to your word, then I won't stop you. If the Archsage finds out, don't expect us to back you up," Zanza proclaimed.
"Didn't he say we should all work together as teammates? What happened to that, Zanza?"
"Only when it's for the mission, not for personal matters," he calmly replied before trying to see into the future again.
The Commandment of Faith shrugged before cracking his knuckles. "If you'll excuse me, I'm going to get some dinner for us."
"Just don't die out there," Ryyz of Purity said while crossing her arms. "How else am I going to kick your ass if you're dead?"
"What's the worst thing I'm going to find in Mira? Shulk? Dunban? HA! They don't know anything about that place."
"Whatever," she scoffed.
"I'll be back," Mumkhar leaped as high as he could. Before reaching the peak, he threw a black orb that transported him to Mira.
"Great, now I got no one else to spar while he's gone," she sighed. "Shit's going to get boring really quick."
"If you're that bored, then you should ask one of us here to spar with you," the Commandment of Patience chuckled while lecturing her. He managed to summon his sword and pointed it at her. "So how about a little spar?"
"You messed with the wrong Ganglion," she was prepared to beat the living crap out of Malos. "You humans disgust me."
"I'm not technically a human, but I do share what you're feeling," he sympathized before giving her a sly remark. "If you do feel that way, how come you didn't with Mumkhar?"
While Malos was enjoying himself with Ryyz during their spar, Jin sat across from the other Commandments. His view was towards them yet he was not looking at them. It's because so many questions clouded his mind. He was not sure why he was given a second life. The more he thought about them, the more it started to hurt him mentally. Everything he loved and hated were vividly pounding on him. The balance between the two was inequivalent. Without any positive influence, Jin suddenly felt anger and hatred for the people who destroyed him. The memories of his painful life began pulsating through his head. He closed his eyes and hung his head low to hide his emotions.
"Why am I back to life when Lora isn't? My memories are still here but Haze…" Jin tried to not let it get to him, but it was a difficult battle against himself. "What's my purpose now?"
"That's something you have to answer yourself."
Jin looked up to see who was speaking to him. It was none other than the Commandment of Selflessness.
"I don't understand."
"Not everyone or everything can be handed to you if you are trying to seek answers," Alvis then coolly sat next to Jin and looked at their fellow Commandments. "If you need something to be answered, then it's best to find out yourself, especially if it pertains to you."
Jin had no response.
"Time is all it takes to find out what you need to seek."
"Maybe the answer will come to me eventually. Not immediately."
"Correct," Alvis stood up. Before walking away, he had one more thing to say to him. "All answers will be shown to you in time. There is a reason for everything."
"A reason… for everything? Then why?"
"There was a report of a stasis pod that appeared deep in the Starfall Basin," Vandham spoke to his best unit during the briefing at the barracks.
"Is it possible that someone has survived this whole time?" An older woman answered yet had to be vigilant about the report.
"We are uncertain," the blonde commander replied. "The team who apparently saw it could not get any closer due to the activity of tyrants in the area. However, as of now, it seems they have dispersed."
"How come they didn't go back to check if that's the case?" Another woman asked. "Seems weird that we ended up doing this?"
"Well, they are on another mission right now. It's inconvenient that everyone except you guys are occupied on a task."
"Yeah, talk about unlucky," a teenaged girl annoyingly said while rolling her eyes away.
"Regardless, it would be the best if you four –"
"Don't forget Tatsu!"
"If you five investigate Starfall Basin and conclude whether the report was correct or not," he cleared his throat after being corrected by a nopon.
"Well, let's get a move on," the young girl was ready to get it over with before noticing her leader acting a bit unusual. "Elma?"
"Starfall Basin…" she quietly muttered to herself as she closed her eyes. "It's like that dream. Could it be?"
"Are you okay, Elma?"
"Yes, Lin, I'm fine. Sorry if I worried you," Elma opened her eyes and gave Lin a reassuring smile. "Vandham, we'll take a look and see what we can find."
"I knew I can rely on you guys," he laughed and crossed his arms in joy.
In hoping to discover whether the report was truthful or not, Vandham sent Elma, Lin, Irina, and Gwin to search for the potential pod. As they reached the pond with their Skells, they set up a station for them to return to should they find anything.
"We made it to Starfall Basin," Elma radioed Vandham to provide updates. "It seems that nothing here is out of the ordinary. We'll continue to search for the possible cryogenic stasis pod reported to us."
"Copy that," the gruff Commander responded. "As soon as you locate it, isolate it. Once you do, carry it back to the lab here."
"Understood commander," Elma ended the call and gathered her comrades. "To make an efficient and thorough search, we must split into two groups since this area isn't too large. Lin and I will go to the back end of the basin while you two search up front."
"I hope we can find someone in that pod," Irina said while crossing her arms. "More people we can rescue, the better for our survival."
"There's only one way to find out," Gwin optimistically answered to which Irina chuckled in amusement.
"Search through every corner and hidden path. You may not know where the stasis pod is, but it can be anywhere," Elma ordered her group to proceed to action.
"Linly and Elma can find pod fast so Tatsu be safe from monsters," the Nopon jumped up and down while being a bit worried about his surroundings.
"If we do find someone inside a pod, they'll be very hungry and need something to munch on. I'll give them a giant potato to snack on," Lin made a snide remark in response to Tatsu.
"T-Tatsu not like a potato," he stammered. "Linly trying to feed me to a hungry mim. Very cruel and mean!"
"What should I season you first?" She began to muse at the idea.
"Now not the time to make me delicious! Tatsu only help find stasis pod."
"Alright you two, let's hurry and find the stasis pod," Elma spoke in a relaxing tone yet found it amusing to see Lin and Tatsu talk to each other like children.
Both groups did the best they could to search for the stasis pod at every part of the area. Despite all that, they could not find it. To their disappointment, it hurt to think that the report was not accurate. After searching for a reasonable amount of time, Elma ordered Irina and Gwin to return to the station. From theirs expressions, no one was content with the result.
"Damn," Irina cursed. "I can't believe the report was bogus."
"I'm sure it might have been some misunderstanding with what was reported," Gwin tried to explain to lessen the outcome yet no one believed what he said.
"Something just doesn't add up" Elma retraced her steps by contemplating everything leading up to the mission. "It wouldn't make sense if the report sent ended up being false."
"Why would anyone lie about potential human life existing here?" The blond woman wondered.
"Now I think about it, do we know who sent the report?" Lin asked the group as they tried to piece together what was going on.
"Apparently, it was sent by one of Reclaimers," Elma answered. "I know no one in that division would lie to Vandham and Nagi with this report."
"If that's the case, then what did they actually find?"
Suddenly, Elma had an uneasy feeling that something was approaching them. "What's this feeling? Is it a Tyrant? No… it's something else. Something much more daunting than that."
"Watch out!" She shouted as she grabbed Lin and Tatsu while Gwin pushed Irina out from the force that came crashing down nearly in front of their station. The impact caused many sizes of rubble to scatter across the area. The inhabitants: Adseculas, Blattas, and the Potamuses were alarmed by the threat and ran away because they felt a powerful presence.
"Is everyone okay?" Elma called out to her teammates.
"I'm ok. Thanks for saving me," Lin gratefully said.
"Elma, I'm fine. Are you okay?" Irina answered.
"Nothing serious. Gwin?" Elma called.
"I'm here!" He shouted before standing up and cleaning off the dust on his uniform. "You're not hurt, Irina?"
"It's going to take more than a push to hurt me," she gave him a smile to alleviate his worries.
"Hey, where's Tatsu?" Lin wondered where the Nopon went. Thankfully, he was in front of the group, but something was off about him. He stood still and was shaking uncontrollably. "Tatsu, what's wrong?"
"… … …"
The group then faced where Tatsu was looking at. In front of them, they saw a human figure. They felt a sharp feeling of fear through their bodies. This individual had razor-sharp claws on his mechanical knuckles. His entire body overed in a machine body. They were more fearful when the clear image of the human was revealed.
"Well, well, well, after warming up against some ugly beasts, I get a little bonus round for myself," Mumkhar said calmly yet his maniacal presence scared the team from moving. "I thought I heard some people from where I was at. Turns out, I was right."
"Elma, what's going on over there?" Vandham radioed to his unit. After hearing silence for longer than usual, he franctically called again. "Elma? Elma?! Are you okay?!"
"Commander, send in backup to Starfall Basin immediately. There's a human here, but something is off about him. It's like… he isn't from here."