1.2: Epiphany

Stage 1.2:_________________

14 June 2312
Plaza de Santa María, Rosario, Puerto Rico
20:04 GMT -4

Several groups of civilians were attempting to flee the city by any means possible in hopes of escaping the bloody wrath that had unsuspectingly come above them. The sound of a civilian transport exploding nearby only served to further increase their fears as rounds were fired everywhere, mostly at innocent people and the occasional armed rebels.

Downtown Rosario was in ruins. Most of the buildings were heavily damaged by gunfire, and those that were not had long been abandoned. Some structures had gaping holes which caused them to promptly collapse upon themselves. The scene looked like something straight out of a post-WW2 picture. Meanwhile, several transports were running through the city, blaring out the official capture message, declaring SHION supremacy over the defenseless citizens.

<”This city is now under the control of the Society for Human Improvement of Nations. All citizens are to report to the town centre for relocation. If an officer comes to your house or approaches you in the streets, do not make any attempts to resist.”>

<”Esta ciudad está bajo el control de las fuerzas de la Sociedad para el Mejoramiento Humano de las Naciones. Todos los ciudadanos deberán reportarse a la plaza central para su reubicación. Si un oficial viene a su puerta o se le acerca en la calle, no haga intentos de resistir.”>

Two SHION officers could be seen leading the march into the city outskirts. Both of them were piloting ten-foot-tall humanoid mechs.

-“Sir, are you sure the Longinus is here?”

-“Affirmative, Captain. The reports we got from Intel division all point to the target being somewhere near the mountains. Your orders are to advance to the hills, and capture the target. I and the rest of our units will stay here to suppress any rebellious intents. You are authorized to relocate the mountain inhabitants as you see fit.”

-“Understood, sir. All units, move out!”

The SHION convoy split into two groups: Captain Sachs’ unit was headed out to the higher grounds, while General Grübach’s soldiers continued to wipe out any resistance left in the city. The remaining citizens were being captured and sent to the town center by the truckload.

14 June 2312
Monte Estrella, Rosario, Puerto Rico
20:11 GMT -4

Arturo woke up from his ‘dream’ and was now sitting on the grass, still somewhat stunned. Somehow, deep inside, he knew that wasn’t *just* a dream...

Standing beside him was his father. His expression at the moment was a combination of shock, worry and relief all at once.

-“Papá! What’s happened here? Why’s everyone running?”, Arturo said, confusedly.

“It’s the SHION! They’ve taken over the city! We must flee to the shelter, mijo!”, said Diego, his father, still beside himself at the fact his son was laying around in the middle of open warfare, “Come on, chico! Get up! Let’s go, vamos--!”

A nearby explosion caused them both to flinch for about a second. The soldiers had marched into the suburbs, and were already making their way to the hilltops, leaving a path of destruction behind.

-“But where are we going, Papá--?

Arturo was promptly interrupted by another explosion just a few feet away from where he was standing, causing him to fall flat on his rear.

“No hay tiempo, chico!, Vamos, vamos!” Diego grabbed his son by the wrist and started running towards a convoy of trucks about half a mile down the hill. “There! That’s where we’re going, son! That’s our ticket out of here!”

The soldiers moved as one, unrelenting, a mass of cold-hearted killing machines that would stop at nothing to achieve their mission. All who got in their way were brutally massacred, even women and children, and those who managed to escape the bullets were slaughtered by artillery shells down the road. Assorted limbs and torsos decorated the countryside; a feast for the ravenous dogs that arrived at the scene, silent witnesses of the limitless nature of human hatred and their lust for power.

For the first time, Arturo actually feared for his life. While he has lived through many battles during his childhood, they were usually alerted before any attack happened and managed to get to the shelter in time. But this assault took him completely by surprise, and perhaps it was exactly that, the uncertainty of whether or not they would reach safety, which caused an unimaginable fear to rise in him...

Meanwhile, a familiar voice echoed through his head...

-“So you’re just going to run away? Is that how you all solve your problems? You sicken me.”

-“Oh great.” Arturo sighed. The last thing he needed was a lecture from someone who had just moved into his head less than an hour ago.- “You again.”

-“Of course it’s me again. Who else were you expecting, the Spanish Inquisition?”

Arturo sighed again. He had only known Cirvante for 30 minutes, and already he knew it was useless to argue with him.

-“You’re just going to run away to your little hole, thinking you’ll be safe there? The SHION didn’t come here because they were short of labor or territories. They came here for me! Which means now they’re coming for you too!”

-“But-“, Arturo said, weakly. He already he was in for the long haul.

-“And even if you did manage to escape, what then? Do you really think they’ll just give up and go home? You’ll live your entire life in exile, watching as those you love die because you were too much of a coward to take responsibility for your power. Is that what you want? IS IT?!”

Cirvante was furious now. In all his years on Earth, he never had to deal with someone who seemed so unreliable.

-“What do you want me to do, play hero or something? Powers or not, I can’t take on an entire battalion of enemy soldiers!”

-“It’s all in your mind. Stop setting limits for yourself! Do you not realize that within you lies the power to change the world, Arturo?”

-“Change the world...?”

-“It’s time for you to step up, mate. Now, you’re going to get out there, and you’re gonna do what’s right. Understood?”

A sudden feeling of weightlessness took Arturo by surprise as he returned to the real world. He felt a rush of energy throughout his whole body. His appearance became much more serious and resolute; he gained battle aura, light purple in color, and his eyes turned a deep shade of violet. The Longinus appeared in his hand; the rust and dried blood replaced by a shining coat of pure silver.

-“Let’s do this.”

A shameless smirk crossed Arturo’s face as he rushed towards the mass of marching
soldiers, ready to kick some SHION ass.