Disclaimer: I do not own Star Ocean 3.

Chapter 1: The Audience

Everything seemed hazy for Albel. He was among Fayt, Maria, and rest of the crew, while people such as Vox, Crosell, and Luther stood in front of him. Suddenly, they all burst in spontaneous blast of flame, and Surroundings changed. Lot of soldiers were around him… as well as lot of dragons. Along with a man…

"fa… father?" Albel asked.

Suddenly, a blast of fire destroyed all the soldiers and Albel felt a sharp pain in his arm…

"AHHH!.." Albel shouted as he woke up, sweating in his bed.

"shoot, another annoying dream…" Albel sighed. He looked at his metal arm, which was burned off many years ago. However, in that dream he just had, he could literally feel that same pain in his arm. But… how could he feel that pain when his real arm no longer existed and was replaced with a metal arm? It was surreal… As Albel was pondering, somebody knocked on the door.

"Captain!" The maid said. "The King has summoned you… it looks like we have a response from the investigation crew. You have been asked to attend to the throne immediately!"

"Hmm… it's about time for a response… took those maggots long enough" Albel said as he walked out the door and to the throne room.

In the Airyglyph castle, not much had changed. It had expanded to accommodate for less military and more social departments, as war was no longer of a primary concern after Vox had perished and the events against the invaders 2 years ago. But the military was still solid as ever, with Albel assuming the position of the Dragon Brigade as well. Albel had not been in too much action lately, however. It was the time of peace, and there wasn't much for Albel to attend to except for administrative issues, which he absolutely lothed. He hated peace and was longing for action. However, it seemed that things were changing… Albel was thinking that he would be in action soon, but it seemed that investigative crew had finished their work. Disappointed, Albel stepped into the room.

"I'm here, sire. I heard that we have a response from the investigation team?" Albel asked as he attended to the king.

"Actually Albel, we do not have a response; that's exactly why I called you here" King said. "It's been two days now, and I expected them to be back by now. This is of a great concern… there have been more reports of Demons rising in Kirlsa caverns, as well as the basements of this castle. Reports of the same are also coming from Aquaria".

"Those soldiers we sent as the investigation team were all of great skill" Woltar said, standing beside the King as always. "Something must have happen to them. The King is ordering you to check out the scenes, boy. Ready yourself for possible battle".

"These demons seem to be of great power. You must be careful and be ready for anything, Albel. You are a great asset to the kingdom and we cannot afford to lose you. Take all precautions". King said.

"I know you've been out of action for past few years, boy…" Woltar said. "While I definitely do not doubt your skill, you must not get arrogant. Watch yourself at all times".

"Hmph, don't worry about me, old man" Albel extorted. "I haven't been just sitting back and not doing anything, you know. I've kept up with my training, and even if I didn't. It doesn't matter. There is nobody that can match my skills in this boring land. Everything is weak."

"Remember that these beings may NOT be of this world" Woltar answered. "remember what happened two years ago, boy. You were humbled by those out of this world, who also soon became your comrades."

"Stop it old man!" Albel shouted. "I underestimated them. Had I been more careful, those maggots would have had no chance."

"That's exactly what I am saying. Don't underestimate anything, Albel." The king said.

"…" Albel ran out of things to say. "Alright, I'll be on my way now", He said as he turned back and walked away.

"Good luck to you" King said.

"First you have to get to the basement of the castle near the jail, and on one of the cells there will be a secret entrance through the floor." The soldier told Albel. "Through that entrance, you will be able to reach the ancient dungeon of Airyglyph. "Take care".

"No need to worry, maggot" Albel said as he walked past the man without even looking at him.

Through the Airyglyph basement Jail where Fayt and Cliff were once held in, and also Albel himself as well at one time, he dropped down the secret entrance through the manhole hidden on the floors in one of the cells. Albel's only heard about it once – that it was created to be the secret hideout for the King for the emergencies… but this was the first time he was there in person.

"Hmph! Who'd have known there was a place like this in the dungeons underneath the castle…" Albel said to himself. "The elite investigative team hasn't come back... Did they fight over credit, or goof up... I didn't think they'd have any problem with this mission... I guess I expected too much from them. They may be useless, good-for-nothing worms, but I guess I'd better at least recover their corpses..."

As he walked down the halls, one sewer monster attacked him from up above. Albel, already seeing this coming with his sixth sense, dodged the claw attack of the monster easily. Without much effort, Albel made a quick, sharp thrust with his Crimson Scourge and the monster was helplessly cut in half. "Hmph…. Same old weak worms. There is absolutely no challenge in this land. Don't tell me the investigation team lost to THESE bunch of worms…" Albel said as he sighed.

But suddenly, he felt a chilling power ahead of him. A power he hasn't felt for over two years… Albel flinched and looked up sharply… to look at apparently nothing.

"Heh... Another guest. First six, then one. Foolish bravery... Or is it recklessness?" A gentle, yet deep voice echoed throughout the dungeon. Out of thin air, a being appeared in front of Albel. He had a pale face, and not-so-physical built. He had no emotion emitting from him but yet was also filled with confidence at the same time.

"You look like something of a fighter, but you are still a man of this world. You are no match for me." The Zombish man told Albel. "It would be best for you if you just went home peacefully. Or would you prefer to become another one of my mute servants, like those who came before?"

"Hohoooh, so YOU'RE the cause of all the problems…" Albel said, glaring cockily at the figure.

"And what if I was?" the Devilish figure asked.

"Don't expect to die painlessly. I'll smash your face until you're begging me to kill you and get it over with." Albel said as he sneered at the man.

"Hehehe… you're a brave one. However…" the man said as he disappeared, and reappeared further back in the dungeon. "I'm Romero, a servant of the gods. Do you really think I would sully myself by fighting with a lowly mortal organism like yourself? Korima, Raxa, Mizua, Sazka... Come out, my servants…"

Romero's servants appeared in the scene, who were zombified, and in great pain. "co…co… commanderrrr!" one servant cried. "ka.. ka..kaaaaa!"

"What the… Bah! You scum!" Albel yelled in disgust.

"You, who were abandoned by the gods you served, and left behind on this land... May I, in my great kindness, extend a special hand of charity to you, and retrieve you as my own?" Romero asked.

How did he know about that? Albel wondered. However, that though quickly disappeared from Albel's mind as the servants inched closer. "Look what's happened to you, fools! Think of your place!" Albel yelled to Romero's servants.

"Ah, how terribly unfortunate... Very well, it is time for you to burn in eternal despair!" Romero said as he snapped his fingers. At his command, his servants dashed at Albel ferociously.

Albel was surprised at how much quicker and stronger these 'servants' have become. Still, they weren't fast enough; Albel dodged all the swipes from the hands of the servants and slid out of the harm's way. But before he could do anything else, one servant yelled "fi..fii…fire.. BOLTTTT!" A ball of fire headed towards Albel as it exploded on impact and shook the dungeon.

"Hmm… that was it?" Romero jeered… looking on.

However, as he finished that sentence, Albel jumped down from above and cut one of the servants in half. Before the others could respond, he swung his Katana sharply, dissecting one of the other servants.

"Hoo… not too bad at all." Romero commented.

The remaining two monsters dashed at Albel with everything they got. All the swings they took at Albel missed, or was easily blocked by him. Albel jumped back to the distance and commented "I guess I have no choice but to put you maggots out of your misery!" He took a stance, and swung his katana in such a swift fashion that it couldn't even be seen to the eye. "AIR SLASH!" Albel yelled as the swift jet of wind shot along the ground towards the servants. The impact from the wind knocked the servants back all the way to the wall, and down they went, lifeless.

"I must say, you're more skillful than I expected." Romero said. "However, your skills are still amateur. You still can't even put a scratch on someone such as myself."

"HAH! You sound so confident, Worm! So why don't you show me what you got!" Albel challenged.

"As I have said before, I have no intention of lowering myself to fighting a mortal. Not only is the result obvious, but is not of worth to me" Romero claimed. "Consider yourself lucky. However, in the end, it will not matter. You mortals do not have much time left. Everything will end soon for you and Demons will thrive."

"Not if I end you right NOW, fool!" Albel yelled as he lunged towards Romero. Albel took a quick swipe, but swung at nothing as Romero disappeared into thin air.

"What the… hmm… the worm will be back… whatever." Albel said in disappointment. As he looked ahead, however, he noticed a Wall with a switch beside it. He walked up to it and clicked on the switch, granting him access to the room below lead by the stairs.

As he walked down, he noticed the surroundings of the room. It was not too big, but filled with books. In the top part of the room, there was a stand that sort of seemed like an altar with some kind of red relic glowing on top of it. "Hmm…" Albel thought. "I have no idea what this is, but something tells me that I should take it. Maybe the King or that senile old man will know what this is".

Albel turned back and walked back to the entrance, with his mission here now done.

Chapter 2: A New Mission

"I see…" The King commented worrily as Albel gave him the status report. "So the investigative team was possessed by this devil… and you had to terminate them. That is unfortunate, but now we know that the manifestation of demons in this land is indeed real. But what is most troubling is their prophecy."

"Indeed, sire. We know what happened last time somebody claimed the end of mankind. It was those monsters from 2 years ago. But these demons seem completely different." Woltar said.

"Nevertheless, they aren't even close to the strength of those beings 2 years ago. I shall have trouble in disposing them". Albel said confidently.

"We can't say that for sure. They may indeed be weaker, but you do not know how strong these being can truly be. We need to learn more about them." The king said. "Oh, you said that you brought a relic from the basement dungeon with you?"

"Yes sire. What is the purpose of this relic?" Albel asked.

"That I cannot say for sure" The King commented. "The Airyglyph legend says that the relic is some sort of a key, but not much more is known. Only thing we know is that it has mysterious power emitting from it as the tome is now too faded out to read. However, take that with you, it might be of some help for your next mission."

"The next mission?" Albel asked.

"You're going to like this one, boy" Woltar spoke for the King. "You have been ordered by your majesty to investigate the activities of the demons throughout this land. Your destination will be Arias."

"ARIAS? That's Aquarian territory! Why do I have to go to their land? They wouldn't even allow it!" Albel said in disgust.

"We received a word from Aquaria that they have also had problems with these demons - as you know." The King said. "However, they said that they have a plan to defeat them and rid of them. And they asked for our cooperation. Go to Arias. They will let you know of the exact details then".

"You are to go to Arias and meet up with their investigation team. Make your way at once. There might not be much time left if what these demons say is true". Woltar said.

"Bah…. Alright." Albel complied in annoyed voice.

Meanwhile, at Aquaria, Clair Lasbard was summoned by the Queen. Clair was pretty much the same elegant, classy, and beautiful young women that she was two years ago. In her traditional Aquarian dress, she stepped into the throne room of Castle Aquaria for an audience with the Queen.

"Yes, your majesty? I am here at your service" Clair said politely.

"How are the operations going, Clair? And how are you feeling, any injuries?" The Queen asked.

"I am fine your majesty. Thank you for your concern" Clair said as she bowed. "The situation is under control for now. We have rid of the demons in the immediate Area… but we too have also suffered great damage."

"I see… these demons are stronger than what we have originally thought. We will plan for reinforcements. Job well done, Clair." The Queen commended her.

"Thank you, your majesty" Clair responded. "I can assure you that the major cities will be safe from any harm… but…" Clair faded out in her speech.

"You are worried about Nel, aren't you." The Queen asked. "Indeed, it has been a week since we have sent her to the sealed cavern for the initial investigation. I am also concerned about her whereabouts."

"But I'm sure Nel is fine, and doing a great job" Lasselle said, standing beside the Queen. "Nel is the best agent we have in our land of Aquaria, along with you, Clair. We all know of her accomplishments of 2 years ago. She is very strong. I'm sure this is just taking more time than we originally thought. Sealed Cavern can be quite a confusing place to navigate".

"I would too, also like to believe what Lasselle has said, despite my concerns. I believe that we should not worry for Nel, she is quite capable to taking care of herself." The Queen said.

"You are right your majesty… I am sorry that I'm letting this get to me…" Clair said.

"No worries. But we didn't call you here for just the status report. We have a new mission for you Clair" Lasselle said.

"A new mission?" Clair asked.

"Yes. Upon long research by Elena and Lasselle, it has been discovered that there may be a way to access the source of the demons – place called the Daemoneum." The Queen told Clair. "There is said to be ancient documents from the Days of Ancient Kingdom of Aquor, many years ago, that describe the method of entering such place. We hope that the documents were preserved. You have been assigned to go to Lost City of Surferio to search for these documents. We have already received the permission from the Sanmite Republic".

"Yes your majesty. I understand. I shall head to Surferio at once." Clair said.

"Actually, you are not to head to Surferio right away, Clair. You are to first head back to Arias." Lasselle told her.

"Back to Arias? Why so, magistrate?" Clair asked.

"We have contacted Airyglyph of our problems, and we have heard that they are also having problems with the uprising of Demons as well. Just like two years ago, we have decided it would be the best to cooperate with them to thwart this new threat to our land. You are to head to Arias and wait for arrival of their representative, then head to Surferio to carry out your operation". Lasselle informed her.

"I see, sir. Who might their representative be?" Clair asked.

"They have agreed to full cooperation, so I believe they will send their strongest warrior. I have no doubts it will be Albel Nox." Lasselle said.

"Albel Nox?" Clair asked in surprise. Clair only saw Albel briefly for the first time two years ago, and he wasn't exactly nice. He was as rude, cunning and heartless as the rumours said about him. Now she must work with him?

"Yes. We all know of his heroics, along with Nel and others from two years ago. He will be of a great asset in this mission. Make sure you work well together." The Queen told Clair.

"Yes, your majesty. I shall proceed at once." Clair said… with bit of reluctance inside.

Chapter 3: A New Comrade

Albel descended down Snowing Traum Mountains as he was complaining to himself "Pssh… working again with Aquarian scums… the king has turned way too soft. I can easily carry out this mission on my own. They'll just be in my way!" Albel thought as he eventually reached the entrance to Mining Town of Kirlsa. "But I guess I have no choice… perhaps that women will be of some use, like two years ago."

Albel entered the town and saw that nothing has changed. It has been a while since he has been to Kirlsa; his hometown. He spent his younger days here with his father, and always went over to the nearby Storm Brigade mansion, as his father and Woltar had been pretty close. The town was still bustling with work and commerce as it had been back then. While reminiscing, he went over to the entrance to Kirlsa Caverns.

"Sir Albel!" one of the soldiers said. "How are you? What can I do for you?"

"How I'm doing is none of your business. I'm here for a status report on demons infesting in the Kirlsa caverns. Have they been disposed of?" Albel asked.

"Yes sir! It looks like the problem has been cleared out for now. However, our casualties are heavy. 15 members of the Black brigade entered the Cavern and only 3 returned." The soldier reported. "We had to deal with not only the demons, but also the Hauler Beasts as well; it seems that they were somehow possessed."

"Check the Caverns once again and make sure every single one of those scums are dead. Call in 20 more soldiers from the Training Facility and resume your operation. Got it?" Albel said, giving his orders to the soldier.

"Yes sir! Right away sir!" The soldier said, with a bow.

"Don't fail." Albel muttered as he walked away.

"Those maggots, they can't even beat those weak demons without all the trouble… what good are they? It seems I have to do everything myself around here…" Albel sighed as he walked out from the town. However as he was on the footsteps of the exit, a bright circular bluish-white light appeared in front of him. A man appeared from it; he was very tall, muscular with Black hair and beard.

"Howdy." The man said to Albel.

"Who the hell are you? Appearing out of nowhere like that, you must be from some other planet!" Albel said to the man, baffled.

"Certainly am." the man said. "And you might not remember me at all, but I certainly remember you! We met two years ago."

"Is that so? Well, then refresh my memory for me, fool" Albel said in annoyed voice.

"I'm Lancar. A Klausian, former member of Quark and current member of the New Federation Government; under the command of Captain Cliff Fitter, who I'm sure your certain to remember. I saw you in the Diplo that time, for your information." Lancar told Albel.

"Right. That worm. No matter, I still don't remember you, and you are still of no use. Get out of my way before I have to make you. I have businesses to attend to and no time to chat" Albel retorted.

"Whoa hoo, same attitude as always, huh? Now now, you should listen to what I have to say. Because it looks like we both have the same mission." Lancar said. "You're going to go look for those Demons, aren't you?"

"How do you know that? And so what if I am, how does that concern you? This has nothing to do with your planet." Albel commented.

"Actually, it certainly does. As a matter of fact, this problem may concern the entire universe!" Lancar told him. "Your world isn't the only world where the Demons are infesting. There have been reports of Demons manifesting in various planets around the universe. First reports came from Expel, then later on from Resonia, Earth, and most recently, Klaus. So as you see, this concerns me too."

"So why don't you mind your OWN business and take care of demons in your own land?" Albel asked rudely.

"The concentration of Demons manifesting here in Elicoor was determined to be bigger and stronger than any other planets in the universe, so we naturally came here thinking that this place might be the source" Lancar said. "Besides, we knew guys like yourself and Nel would be of great help to us, so we came here, to also ask for your help. The new federation is still lacking experienced and capable combat personnel, unfortunately."

"Hmph. Well, you can ask that Aquarian wench to help you if you want, but I want no part in it. Leave me out of this." Albel said as he walked away.

"Hey, we're on the same mission, why not let me help?" Lancar asked. "Besides, the demons are not the only problem. We are looking for them because they captured one of our old comrades; who happen to be YOUR old comrade as well."

"And who might that be?" Albel asked, still walking away and not looking.

"I'm sure you remember Fayt. He's been captured by the demons" Lancar said in a serious voice.

"WHAT?" Albel stopped and shouted as he turned back to look at him. The same guy who beat him two years ago is now captured by the demons? "That maggot is captured… it's the 4D beings again?"

"No, as I told you, he was captured by the demons; I don't know why though, exactly." Lancar said. "It cannot be the 4D beings as we are our own world now. Planet Styx has been destroyed, and all connection to the 4D world is now gone. We are guessing the demons captured him knowing his gene's potential, but we don't know for sure. All we know is we must retrieve him or else all of the universe might be in great danger."

"Hmm… so what happened to the other two?" Albel asked, now more curious.

"I'm taking it that you meant Maria and Sophia." Lancar said. "Sophia is safe. She was with Fayt at the time he was captured, and she barely escaped… we have her in safe hands now in New Diplo, so there is no worries. Maria I'm not sure. She went missing 2 years ago to hide from our watch and live a normal life, but I'm pretty sure they want her too. We are doing our best to locate her."

"I see…" Albel said.

"So, as you see, whether you like it or not, I need to get to the bottom of this and I'll follow you. Hopefully you won't mind." Lancar told him.

"Whatever. Do whatever you want, just don't get in my way, because if you cry for help, I am not saving you." Albel muttered.

"Hey now, I'm not going to get in your way. You see, I'm a Klausian, just like Cliff. And although the Captain won't admit this, I believe I'm just about strong as he is, hahaha! Anyways, just do as you were going to before and all I'm gonna do is just follow you. Is that fair enough?" Lancar asked.

"Hmph. Do as you please." Albel said, as they both walked away from Kirlsa onto Kirlsa/Aire Hills.

Kirlsa/Aire Hills. Having two names because it is a border with the two countries, and also the battleground of the last war they had. Aquaria had agreed to share some of the crop growing land in Aire hills in order to help our Airyglyph's diminishing Agriculture, so most of the land had turned into a farm land.

"This certainly is a nice big place, huh? Not many places in the universe these days you can find such a nice big natural ground, really." Lancar said.

"Shut up fool. I'm not here to chat with you. Just follow quietly before I change my mind about killing you." Albel said.

"Sheesh, not really sociable, are ya?" Lancar sighed.

As Lancar finished that sentence, group of 8 demons rose out of nowhere and surrounded the two men. "Humans…. Must… die! You all need to perish!" the demons yelled.

"We got company, huh? Well, little action would be good sooner than later" Lancar said as he stretched out and unconcerned.

"Just don't get in the way, fool" Albel said as he got ready to unsheathe his katana.

4 of the demons jumped onto Albel, and the other half charged at Lancar. The demons surrounded Albel, with Albel seemingly having nowhere to go. "Come on fools, bring it!" Albel said to the demons. The demons all jumped at Albel trying to attack, but Albel already had a trick up his sleeve. He didn't even look at the demons; he turned back and made a fast, rapid circular motion with his Katana. "SHOCKWAVE SWIRL!" Albel yelled out as rising shockwaves came from the ground through the sky. The four demons were all hit, and were sent flying back.

Meanwhile, Lancar was simply dodging all the things the demons were throwing at him with his superior reflex and motor skills. As he dodged all of them, he threw a swift kick to the midsection of one monster, sending it flying. Lancar then appeared in front of another monster, giving it a powerful uppercut to the chin and hitting it high up in the sky. "Okay, I'm through with playing, time to finish all of you off!" as the other two monsters came chasing after him. Lancar ran back, and jumped incredibly high up in the air. He clenched his two fists together, and made a rapid hammerblow with them while yelling out "HAMMER OF MIGHT!" Rapid Kigong wave was thrown to the ground, making a huge impact on the ground and blowing away all 4 of the demons. Finished with his half of the monsters, Lancar turned back, and looked at Albel "You need any help there?" Lancar asked.

"I don't need your help, maggot" Albel said as he stood front of the 4 demons just starting to recover from his blast of shockwaves. "I'm finishing them off right now." The 4 demons charged desperately at Albel, who just closed his eyes and had his hands on the Katana, letting the monsters come to him. Then, with a blinding flash that wasn't even visible to the eye, he went through all four of them. Albel simply sheathed his katana back, while the demons all tipped and humped over lifelessly.

"Not bad, not bad at all!" Lancar said. "You're as strong as Cliff said you were. I'm impressed!"

"Hmm, don't get so overconfident." Albel commented, not even looking at Lancar, "these are small fries. The demons we may face will be much stronger".

"I guess you're right" Lancar claimed. Before they knew it, they were already at the entrance of Arias.