Did you know how long it took for the end of the world to happen?
I didn't. I'm not sure anyone did except maybe some people who lived through it in the past?—and they're probably dead now too.
But we knew when it happened. We all felt it together and in our own ways.
It happened really fast. One moment everything was fine and then suddenly… nothing. The sky went black like a huge blanket had fallen on top of us, stifling every living thing that wasn't already dead.
There were no lights or sounds anymore. Nothing moved but my body as I ran from home. It's funny because everyone else just stopped moving at first, staring blankly into space until their brains started working again.
Me, though, I couldn't stop running even if I wanted to. My heart pounded against my chest so hard I thought it would break open.
And then it happened. The sky returned to normal, everyone started moving again. Yet, everything smelled burnt, ash floated around me wherever I looked.
All I could hear was snapping wood and smoldering trees falling behind me. The nearby building collapsed into the ground below it.
And everywhere there was smoke drifting up out of fires burning somewhere nearby.
But I didn't care for all that, I was trying to get home. So far away and yet somehow only half an hour walk away. All I needed to do was run faster than death itself.
That's what kept chasing after me, demons with pitchforks, devils riding horses made of fire, imps holding swords bigger than themselves, ghosts flying overhead screaming curses, witches laughing maniacally, vampires sucking blood straight off the ground.
Everywhere I turned monsters were waiting for me. But I kept running with my entire might.
I need to find her! That's what I told myself over and over again while I tried desperately to escape them. She needs help, she can't be alone right now, someone has to save her.
Someone will come along eventually, won't they? They have to. Otherwise, where am I going to go? I will die.
And finally, thankfully, one person did come by. But he wasn't much of a hero.
An angelic figure came stumbling toward me clutching his side, bleeding badly. He fell forward onto his knees in front of me.
His appearance was pretty normal except for the six wings that sprouted from his back. And the sword that hung loosely from his side. With a face as white as snow and a voice like a choir of angels singing.
"Help…" he gasped between ragged breaths. "…me."
It wasn't like he was singing but I don't know why, but he sounded like he was singing.
Then he slumped sideways and died before I reached him. I tried to get to him but suddenly another demon landed beside him. This one was also bleeding heavily.
He looks horrendous, I'll give him that, but I've never seen a demon with more wounds than this one.
With a complex horns structure, six broken wings, and a thorny tail, he looked like some sort of evil red-winged goblin, but bigger.
"Tch! Worthy of an Archangel." The demon spoke in a low voice, "To be able to strike a death blow on me? A HIGH DEVIL LIKE ME WILL NEVER YIE—"
Before the demon could finish, his face contorted in pain as he fell face-first to the ground, dead.
What is this?
Why would an angel and a devil die here?
I stood there for a moment, staring at the body lying face-down, unmoving, and unbreathing. His eyes stared blindly ahead. A pool of blood formed underneath him and the angel's dead body.
The overwhelming sense of dread after experiencing death overwhelmed me. This new reality was too much for me. Then something hit me in the stomach.
I doubled over, clutching my stomach and vomiting everything I had. The sickness was so bad I couldn't see a thing. I vomited until my stomach felt empty, my throat was raw, and I could barely breathe.
When I finally stopped, I panted and wheezed, trying to catch my breath. I heaved and retched until my stomach vomit tasted salty instead of sweet.
Before I could make sense of anything, my vision started to fade. As I watched, darkness crept slowly back in around the edges of my consciousness.
The last thing I could remember is falling face-first into a pool of water, but it tasted like iron. And something other than blood came into my vision.
[ NanoTech Sync … 99.99% - System Interruption Detected. ]
[ New System Package Received. ]
[ Upgrading processing … 0.01% ]
[ Secondary and Tertiary System Source Detected. ]
[ Unpacking Package … 0.01% ]
[ System Overhaul … 1% ]
Huh!? What's going on?
As I tried to make sense of what was happening my nose filled with a sharp metallic scent. I was breathing in blood. Then everything went dark.
"Crusaders! To arms!" shouted General Garius DeRhys, commander of the Northic City Defense Unit.
A convoy of military vehicles roared past the hell-like wasteland surrounding the city, kicking up dust and dirt in their wake.
Each truck held several elite soldiers armed with rifles, blades, and shields. Some wore full armour, while others carried staff-like weapons.
"It hasn't been five minutes since we received word," said Captain Nerissa Serrano, the unit's second in command.
Her uniform resembled that of the general's, albeit less ornate. "We should take shelter inside the walls immediately."
Her blonde hair was also stained with blood, giving her the appearance of a wild animal.
"No time," replied General Garius curtly. "They're coming. You two head south, I'll lead the rest north. We must hold them to ensure the refugee evacuations aren't compromised."
Captain Nerissa nodded grimly, knowing the urgency of the situation all too well. After years spent fighting on the frontline, she'd become accustomed to these situations.
Aliens, Beast, Animals, and other Humanoid maybe… But mystical creatures, demons, hellish monsters, and angels?
She glanced nervously around her surroundings. Even though she had fought on many different battlefields, the sheer number of supernatural creatures scouting the area frightened her.
It seemed almost impossible, but hundreds of people were stranded within the city. Many weren't strong enough to flee, let alone fight.
"Code RED-HE11 huh? I never expected that we'll live to see such a day," said Captain Nerissa under her breath.
"Captain?" asked a soldier standing next to her.
"Oh sorry, just talking to myself. Never mind."
Captain Nerissa shook her head clear of the thoughts invading her mind. There's no use dwelling on things we cannot change, she reminded herself firmly.
"Captain Nerissa!" called out one of the soldiers riding atop a vehicle. "I think you better look at this."
Captain Nerissa climbed up the ladder to the roof of the car, pausing only briefly to glance at a young boy lying in bloodied rags.
"Get the medics up here quick," she ordered.
"Yes sir!" responded the soldier who had alerted her.
"What happened?" she asked, kneeling beside the child.
"We're not sure, ma'am. There's no sign of any demons nor monsters around."
The blood puddle beneath the boy's body was still fresh, it hadn't dried yet either. But there's no way a kid would bleed so much and still be alive. Would he?
Captain Nerissa knelt beside the injured child, placing her hands on his chest. She closed her eyes, focusing deeply on his heart.
After a few moments, she opened her eyes. She looked relieved.
"He's fine. It seems he fainted or passed out due to shock. The Nanomachine is already helping him recover."
She looks at him with interest as if she's reading a book.
"Qodex Shin Caanon… 13 years old… You're one lucky boy."
She patted the soldier gently on the shoulder, "Good work, Soldier." and then returned to the military vehicle.
She sat down in the passenger seat, glancing out through the window.
Her gaze rested upon the desolate landscape outside. It looked so familiar.
I wonder if I'm dreaming… She couldn't shake the feeling that she was having a nightmare.
The driver steered the large transport truck down a narrow road, heading toward the southern gate. It was already late afternoon, but the sun remained hidden behind the thick smog.
"Sir, we've lost contact with the reconnaissance units. Shouldn't we send out another squad?" asked one of the other officers.
"We can't afford to waste more men right now," snorted General Garius coldly, turning away from the officer. He gazed out at the smoggy horizon, his expression stony. "We need to keep moving."
Captain Nerissa couldn't help but agree. Their mission was to protect the refugees, so they had to reach them as quickly as possible. The sooner they could secure the perimeter, the safer everyone would be.
As the transport slowed down, the smog became thicker, stinging their noses and stinging their eyes. The air grew hotter, stifling everyone inside. The stench of rotting flesh and burning metal began permeating the cabin.
General Garius pulled a gas mask over his mouth, covering his face. "We're almost there," he reassured the soldiers. "Hold on to your breath."
"What do we have here? A demon attack? Or maybe a monster incursion?" asked another officer, who sat across from him.
Captain Nerissa looked around, wondering if anyone else noticed the strange atmosphere. No one spoke, however. They each appeared transfixed by the scene before them.
The army stopped abruptly. They heard shouts, screams, and the clang of swords. Then they saw it.
"A demon lord…" breathed one of the soldiers.
Captain Nerissa didn't know what a demon lord was, but she knew it wasn't good news for them—or their comrades.
"All troops, prepare to engage! Fire at will!"
Captain Nerissa gripped her sword tightly, preparing for the worst.