Chapter 4 – The True Beginning
His voice broke through the light and echoed the thunder currently tearing the sky to pieces. At his command, five great shafts of light split away from the jewel, outward, and lit up the area; they danced around Alfred playfully before four of them slipped away from him and headed toward the others.
The first ray is a golden, willowy shape: It twisted and turned around the enemy before changing course and colliding with Francis. He shrieked as his body was enveloped in the yellow bands and lifted from the ground as ribbons whirled around him for a few moments; then, he is completely encased in a beige sphere.
The second, aqua beam is much faster, almost wild: it actually hit the Atteros before spinning and honing in on Ivan's form and entangling him. Yao's ribbon was by far the slowest, a dim crimson flare. However, this lack of hurry was Yao's doing as he stood perfectly still, the only boy to do so, and let the rays wrap and curl themselves around him. Alfred was already encased in his sphere; Arthur had actually ran away from the wispy bands until they split and surrounded him.
This is it. Arthur alleged with certainty as the light sealed himself off from the rest of the world. He gasped as water flooded his lungs and shrouded his body. In the madness, his heart beat harshly against his chest and Arthur panicked before shutting his eyes. I can't swim-! However, the liquid stole no air from him. Arthur felt rather than saw his jacket, shirt, pants, etc. evaporate and then be replaced with something smoother, more light-weight. His piercings went missing and something separated and fluttered onto his back.
When the water separated from him and his feet met the ground Arthur was already in a defense position. His gaze was targeted at the Atteros, and he raised his hands; the rush of something cool thrummed in his fingertips.
The burnt aroma cascading around his body made Yao think of the coal mountains in his dreams; the ash swirling in his lungs felt like a welcome home, and he let his individuality slip away. His long, brunette hair released from his hair tie but quickly re-wound itself in a shorter braid and settled. Yao had only a brief moment of confusion when the new shoes he's fitted in were the traditional ones from back home.
His release is much more graceful than Arthur, his hands were also up already facing the stone monsters. The winged-being by now was blaring out battle cries and snarls, kept away by the jewel that shielded the teenagers. With a smirk to it, Yao breathed out.
Francis felt like he was dropping through a waterfall of leaves and vines, his own personal forest. Such calmness, he was sure he hadn't felt peace since-well, a long time. Then roughness met his skin as sand and dirt swept up his previous outfit and briefly left him bare; something akin to grass slid across his elbows and shoulders, and draped a heavy cloth on his back. The rest of the new clothes followed and Francis's sphere chipped away.
His short boots met the ground with a CLUNK.
Ivan doesn't come nearly as quietly or as patient; the second the scarf vanished from his neck he snarled out and beat against his circular prism. His fists kept away any of the ribbons until something, literally, drew the fight and breath out of him, left him gasping. Listen, boy. A voice resonated in Ivan's skull making his vision bleak. I am not a patient deity, nor am I obligated to save you; I highly suggest you cooperate. Ivan's laugh came as a sneer. You sound like Grandfather. Give me back my scarf. There's no noise from the invading voice, and Ivan started to struggle again until he felt the familiar cloth wrapped around his neck again. There was a flash of comfort even as Ivan felt confusion. …Thank you.
Ivan emerged from his transformation already in flight. He broke away from the sphere, soared up above the rest of the group, and then dived down to hover just above the Atteros.
A light smile played upon his lips.
Light aqua and gold rays battered with vigor on Alfred and made his hair stand on end; his sphere a complicated mix between yellow thunder clouds and sapphire lightning bolts. There are a few spare strikes which pricked his skin and hit nerves semi-violently but Alfred did not register the lack of his own wardrobe until after the transformation was over.
He is the second guardian to come out of his sphere in mid-flight. Palms swung up aggressively and Alfred felt like he was playing sports again-all power was his backed by a team, the confidence radiated off his form in waves. Static waves, to be truthful. Offhandedly he noticed his glasses were gone, but his view was a perfect 20/20.
Alfred landed in front of the group with no smile but possessed one hell of a defiance. The necklace from before had vanished and now rested somewhere in the ether of Alfred's uniform. He crouched low.
Now with the jewel's defense gone, the Atteros roared and brought up its spear in tantrum ready to attack. The boys braced themselves as it hurled toward the closest of them- Francis.
His eyes widened then tightened. Left hand out, Francis focused on the ground under them all and slammed it down; a boulder closely sized to a washer burst from below and hit the Atteros square on. Still bend down, Francis took his right hand and summoned emerald vines to bind the beasts' legs and arms. However, it was a short fix; the Atteros broke away in an instant and howled.
"Ivan!" Francis called and Ivan flew in front of him. He brought his arms up and spun creating a small tornado and unsettling the Atteros' balance, it fell with a clunk. The thing was non-stop screaming and Ivan felt a headache coming on. Oh, quiet you.
"Yao!" Yao flew next to him and both soared up above the beast; the others quickly saw their plan and jumped away. "Fire!" Yao shouted as he let lose five great blasts powered by Ivan's wind. Two flames hit the Atteros and the rest created a careful circle around it; the flames reached high in the air and Yao's eyes widened. I didn't mean to make it that big. He turned to look at Ivan who had a light smirk on his face. The marble creaked, and the Atteros was clearly in pain and attempting to stand when Arthur and Alfred finished the job: Arthur doused the creature with one blast of water before Alfred let literal sparks fly between them. Each joint was stung with vigor and precision and in a matter of moments, the stone being was paralyzed from the neck down. Francis 'flung' a brick into the mouth of the beast to quiet the constant screeching and laughed.
"Now if we could just do the same thing to Gilbert, we'd be set." Yao, Arthur, and Ivan landed next to him while Alfred landed in front of the Atteros.
It's then when Arthur finally looked down at what he's wearing and shrieked.
"Good God, what are we wearing?!"
From above the alleyway, the woman smiled lightly.
"Well done, boys."
Alfred's head snapped up and he glanced at the rooftops, but no one was there.
Arthur, meanwhile, was pacing the alleyway muttering swears. The others, at Arthur's outburst, had inspected their own wardrobe and reactions ranged from completely taken aback to mildly surprised. Arthur created a puddle on the ground and frowned at the reflection.
He was wearing a long-sleeve, dark turquoise sweater which cut off at the end of his ribs revealing his stomach; a pink skirt draped down half-way on his thighs, with two long strips going to his ankles while his legs were covered completely by light blue and green, stripped leggings. Violet boots extended about three-fourths up from his feet. The long sleeves of his sweater had three squares cut out of them each, strings lightly twining through them up his shoulders.
If he was being honest, it was the colors that marred his mood more than the clothes; at least he had a hood. Then he turned around and noticed his new attachments.
"…Fairy wings. Well, that explains the flying." He moved one of them experimentally despite knowledge of using them a few minutes ago. Each wing had three dimly shaped sections in the form of curved tear-drops; the outside was lined with a black bone-like structure followed by a light blue, matching the leggings, curve surrounding the inner most part of the wing which was the same light green.
Yao adjusted the pink, not black, arm bands on his arms and shuffled his feet. He didn't mind the cloth pants or leggings, but the shoes were interesting. They were traditional Chinese shoes-specifically for males, except they were purple instead. Everyone seemed to have the same color scheme but in different patterns; his shirt was a pink sleeveless Chinese frog-bottom, with a bit of an extended collar. It also cut off right before the midriff area and a triangle-like shape was cut at the end. The silky blue-green pants had a slit on each leg that extended down from the thigh and tied together at the knee area; the bottoms were split in two.
Overall, he wasn't too impressed with the choice of clothing but compared to Arthur Yao had little to complain about.
"Dude, what the hell." Alfred grumbled and Yao peered over to him and smirked.
His outfit, like Yao's, was a pink-than-turquoise combination; his shirt had the sleeves sliced in five strips; two fell on the front, two in the back, and one under his arm. Alfred's shoulders were exposed unless he moved them while his stomach was also visible; however, unlike Arthur or Yao, Alfred's skirt was higher, a series of bands and came up to cover his sides. A section of the skirt and shirt framed his middle area. The boots went almost to his knees. Alfred also wore two pink fingerless gloves. "This is totally unfair- I want Francis's outfit, not this."
Francis chortled while flipping his, now completely down, lengthy hair. "Well dear, not everyone can have great fashion sense. Obviously your necklace picked up on my tastes." Arthur scoffed.
"I think you mean unhinged tastes." Francis stuck his tongue out childishly while Yao inspected the outfit.
It was pretty impressive. Francis's turquoise-pink combination had a long-sleeved cloak that came down about an inch from the ground; the clothing exposed his shoulders and collarbone somewhat as the shirt under it had a wide collar. There was no give in the sleeves either, each came up to the wrist before a part split and covered Francis's first finger and thumb. He had no purple or blue-green slacks on; the leggings were pants instead. The ends of his shirt extended down past the waist line but before the hips; despite the middle section being halved up to were Francis's ribs started, it barely showed his belly if he didn't move too much. His boots only went about an inch or two past the ankles.
Ivan, for the moment, lazily adjusted the familiar scarf around his neck, now the custom pink everyone was wearing instead of light tan. His aqua shirt mimicked that of a dancer's- the sleeves gone but replaced by elbow-long violet gloves which he flexed. He, like Arthur, had a skirt slit from the waist down to the feet on each side; he didn't wear leggings but had pants with boots that went up to his knees. Some part of his hips, instead of his stomach, were exposed.
He blew a breeze to sweep the ashes away. "Jones. Exactly what did you do to us?" He turned to Alfred who just held up his hands in defense.
"Dude, do not look at me, okay? I'm not responsible for any of this-well you know, other than bringing the weird trinket along." He motioned to his chest and the necklace suddenly materialized in front of him. "Whoa!"
"Fascinating." Yao said while stepping closer to it. "Does it always hide in your clothing?"
"I-I don't know, dammit, I just got this thing-"
Arthur butted in. "Wait, so you didn't give us our powers Alfred? I thought-"
The spear crashed into the wall next to them.
"Damn this world, stupid generators…" Gilbert hit the offensive object once more while Ludwig rubbed his temples warily.
"Gilbert, it's 12:13 a.m., can we please go now? You're not going to fix it." Gilbert's expression hardened at the generator then turned thoughtful. He hummed and then fished around in his pocket.
"True, right now I can't, but you know-" Ludwig hit his brother upside the head.
"Don't even try. You know our powers aren't meant to be used for trivial matters!" Gilbert rolled his eyes before bringing out a silver pocket-watch from his coach jacket. He turned it back and forth with a smirk before pressing it against the metal surface and waiting.
"Just a quick fix Luddy, gods, you sound like I'm about to rob a bank." Ludwig blanched.
"Don't do that either. Just hurry up, please, before Romano starts throwing our things out of the van for being late…" Gilbert stood straight up then.
"Lud, check your map. Now." He blinked and frowned.
"Now." The golden sheet spread before them as Ludwig and Gilbert crouched on the ground. Gilbert hung his watch over the chart, he frowned and Ludwig inhaled when a huge "X" appeared and he put the timepiece away.
"Atteros." He spat scornfully.
"Dammit. Do you think they've found us finally?" They both stood and Ludwig inspected the coordinates carefully. Gilbert sighed.
"If they did we're in huge trouble. Nevertheless, we can't just let the beast roam the skies unwarranted." He started packing up the tools and carrying them to their van; when he opened the back door however he was immediately pelted with an empty shake. "Roma!"
"That's for taking so long, bastard." Romano deadpanned from his seat as Feliciano waved ecstatically.
"Hiyah Gilbert! Have you fixed the generator yet? Can we go home now- I want pasta." Gilbert chuckled as he put down the case.
"Yeah, we can go now. Um, actually, there's something we need to talk abo-"Ludwig appeared behind him hurriedly, expression extremely grave as he opened the driver's door. Gilbert blinked.
"Whoa Luddy, what's wrong?"
"That Atteros you found is behind Hetalia High." Gilbert dropped everything unceremoniously and shut the trunk door.
"Shit!" Alfred screeched as the spear tore through the brick like a knife in silk. "Move, people!" He flew above the attack and flipped backward before aiming at the now-reanimated Atteros.
"Quintessence!" His bolts caught the beasts' neck but heedlessly bounced off. Oh, great. Now you stop working? Arthur paced back before noticing an old hydrant; he pointed one finger to it and the other to the Atteros.
"Water!" The hydrant came alive, shot up, and slammed into the winged monster causing it to backup into the opposite wall. There, Francis hit the brick and created two large hands that surrounded the Atteros, held it fast as it roared. However, the structure of the building groaned with stress. Yao frowned.
"Francis, that's an apartment complex you're using." Francis rolled his eyes but kept them trained on the distressed beast.
"I know that, dear, but this is much easier than dodging javelins. By the way, I give this method about five minutes, so please devise a strategy quickly." He glanced behind him at Alfred who nodded and motioned to everyone.
"We need a way to break that marble shell." He stated stiffly while crossing his arms. "Anyone have suggestions?"
Yao observed the thrashing Atteros. "Marble is a combination of calcium carbonate, which is highly susceptible to acidic agents- diamond can cut it too."
Arthur scoffed. "Like any of us have the skill to create either at the moment. We need something more industrious-"
"Extreme temperatures." Ivan cut in and ignored Arthur's scowl. "However to heat up such a target, especially one that can fly, without burning the building is impossible." Or the alley for that matter. He idly watched as Alfred processed this information with a hands on his hips.
Alfred's vision slowly moved from the ground in thought and took inventory of the objects around them: a few small metal pipes, some wire, a spindle, and a whole length of thick, iron chains were pressed against the wall closest to him. He stepped toward the items and bent down. Then, Alfred looked up to the sky, to the other guys, and back down to the ground at his feet. His expression stayed neutral but inside he smirked. Yeah- that just might work. He stood up and whipped around when Francis's pained gasp was heard.
"Guys? I hate to rush you, but could you hurry it up a little?" Francis grumbled weakly as his brick appendages began to crack and recede, his arms struggled to stay fastened to the fuchsia stone. The others' eyes widened as the Atteros freed one of its upper limbs and summoned the spear back to it; with one fell swoop, the hands broke away from its form completely. Caught off guard by the rebound, Francis has no time to move and is struck, hard, by the javelin- he's down on the ground, completely out in the next second.
"Francis!" Arthur exclaimed while Yao swore and both speedily dodged the Atteros attack before picking up his comatose form; Ivan provided a block of air for a defense as they flew to the other end of the passageway. It's then Alfred joined the group as Arthur inspected Francis's injuries.
"How is he?" Alfred asked apprehensively and Arthur shook his head.
"No bleeding, but I doubt he'll be up anytime soon." Alfred nodded.
"Alright. Be ready to move him on my count. Yao," said man looked up, "see those chains over there?" He followed Alfred's hand and nodded. "We need to get the Atteros in an area where we can cook him without setting fire to the neighborhood; I suggest the sky, whatta ya think?"
Yao stared pensively at the links, then he hummed in revelation with a light smile.
"Indeed." Alfred grinned before standing fully and going to Ivan's side; he created his own elemental force-field in assistance. Ivan, however, did not acknowledge his presence and Alfred sighed. Well, wouldn't be the first time. He spoke anyways.
"Braginski, on my mark-"
"Oh, are you finally joining the fight?"
"-Shut up. This is serious." Ivan scoffed and readjusted his shield to accommodate the extra power.
"So was last week's tournament." Alfred blinked momentarily puzzled before shaking his head and focusing on their shared enemy.
"On my mark, go long." That time Ivan actually did glance at him for a moment, then back to the Atteros. He huffed, amusement dancing in his odd violet eyes.
"Very well." Let's see if our little team can score.
The Atteros interrupted any further conversation with its blaring of battle cries and beating down on both shields full-force. Alfred contained his wince at the smash and continued to glare into the beast's carved irises.
"On my mark, get ready-"Everyone tensed and Arthur slung one of Francis's limp arms over his shoulder.
"Set-"Ivan crouched low to the ground, feet dug into the ground; Yao turned around to face the forgotten construction supplies.
"-Go!" Both buffers disappeared and they all parted in three directions. Alfred took off into the night, his eyes trained solely on the stars and Ivan's wings. Cool air grazed his cheeks and Alfred swiftly glanced behind him to make sure- he sighed in relief as the marble statue beat its wings furiously trying to catch up to the two. Good, it followed us. He could faintly make out the form of Yao gathering the chains up and Arthur setting down Francis on a rooftop.
Yao lifted the chains easily from where they laid and spinning around he threw them into the sky. "Heads up!" Alfred and Ivan rotated around at the same time and, crossing each other's path, grabbed ahold of one end of the links. They spun around and around, until the chains completely wrapped and bonded the screaming Atteros in a complicated array of stone and metal.
Yao joined them then and put one hand on his arm and aimed. The air grew heavy with molten ash as Yao completely engulfed the struggled beast in flames; Ivan and Alfred held it tight and Alfred's eyebrows rose in morbid fascination as steel melted into the marble foundation. However, he cursed as the weight of the Atteros now doubled. When Arthur is seen flying toward them and the melting is complete, he called out.
"Alright!" His lightening soon joined the flames and soared around the mass, the bolts busied with heating up the surface even more. Soon the Atteros is nothing, but a bright, glowing crimson lump in the sky, and Alfred smirked. He looked up to Ivan and Arthur.
"Okay, Yao enough." The fire cut out immediately. "Ivan, Arthur, send 'em hurling down." He and Ivan released the chain at the same time and Ivan soared up then changed direction.
"Air!" With a backflip, he summoned a gash of wind and kicked it into the falling Atteros increasing the speed thrice-fold. Arthur soon followed with an explosion of water from his own palms. Alfred whooped when he saw a breakdown of the calcium carbonate. Not only did Arthur upturn the velocity of the Atteros, he was changing the temperature too fast for the marble surface to adapt; one last howl scraped everyone's ears before the stone hit the ground and shattered entirely.
Giant shards stuck up at random locations, some little, and others about as big as a soccer ball. The boys take care in landing again and Yao inspected the damage; he cautiously picked up one piece turning it over in his palm. With a noise, he peered even closer at it.
"Huh. You were right Alfred, the statues only have a marble exterior- the rest is just plain rock." He spoke fascinatedly. Arthur bent down to look at one of the larger shards and frowned.
"So, we just needed to get rid of the surface?" He idly poked the piece and yelped when the slice stirred.
Suddenly the fragments began to shake and a blue glow surrounded them all; Alfred and Ivan narrowly dodge the pieces flying away from their place and toward the impact sight.
"Shit," Alfred swore, "they're going to regroup-"He tried to off-set their course by firing his bolts, but they merely moved out of the way. "Dammit, we can't keep doing thi-"
His words died when, as the marble is beginning to form again, a boulder the size of a car smashed down on them; his eyes widened as the ground around it shook and broke away taking all the pieces with it. It's sealed up in the next instant, and everyone heard a groan from above. Looking up, Alfred blinked at the form of a slowly descending Francis who was currently rubbing his head warily.
He landed with a thump and examined everyone critically for a moment. Then, Francis sighed.
"Can we go home now?"
His boots echoed off the steep walls as Gilbert sprinted to the coordinates Ludwig had provided; a curse or a mumble ran from his lips every so often as he saw indications of a chase. The brick had huge slashes in them and a few new dents. Gilbert adjusted his ebony armor with the hand not holding his arrow-shaped spear and tapered his eyes. Come on, let me get there in time.
Following the marks he turned a corner and halted.
The alley was a complete dead-end, but that wasn't what made him stop. As Gilbert entered the space fully, he took note of the obvious signs of battle marring the ground: patches of dirt and concrete had turned black with soot, and several water pipes were broken apart and still dripping. In some parts of the wall the brick looked very twisted and disfigured but remained together. However, the real kicker to this situation could barely be seen. It lay on the ground, the radiant chrome glow long seen gone.
"Impossible…" Gilbert walked to the crest of their sworn enemy, a severe but puzzled expression on his face. Amethyst. He knew it- seen the banner a thousand times by now, it's violet and blue colors flying in the afternoon wind. The eagle spiraling downward into an abyss of thorns, a checkered shield in the background with horns. The emblem was surrounded with a circle of tightly woven roots, again, with thorns. A declaration of war and the only marker to show you had truly killed an Atteros.
However, such a situation couldn't have been presented in front of Gilbert. He and Ludwig were the only beings in this world, presently, who had the power to accomplish such a feat. Gilbert bent down and felt the colored and chilly soil; he lifted the dust and let it drain through his fingertips pensively.
BRRRRIINNNNGGGGGG. "SON OF A BI-"He fell over in a heap of metal and limbs yelling. "Gods, Ludwig give me a heart-attack-"He reached into a small knapsack slung around his shoulder and dragged the offending piece of technology out. "Yes?" He answered.
"Is everything alright? Did you find the Atteros?" Ludwig's grave voice asked. Gilbert rolled his eyes while dragging a thumb through the dirt more.
"Yes, Ludwig, you'll be happy to know he brought tea this time and we're having a fantastic discussion-which you interrupted, by the way." He sat up fully and heard Ludwig growl.
"It's gone, Luddy. Killed."
Gilbert looked back at the vandalized pipes and brick and sighed deeply. He really wanted a drink about now.