If it were possible to combine medieval times with those of an unimaginably distant future, the world of Gryse would be just that. Streets shone with the sheen of polished metal, with beams of bright blue neon pulsing through it in symmetrical lines. Buildings resembled chrome skyscrapers, save for stylish windows and more neon of various colors coursing through veins lining them up and down, side to side, and even in unique and uneven zig-zag patterns. Other unique structures were also present. However, the roads carried nary a vehicle. Goers traveled on foot, otherwise transportation involved flying on or riding beasts, many resembling dragons, large birds, horses, and other animal steeds. There was a large city square with various vendors selling wares from wagons and carts, ranging from produce to a traveling weapon smith. Easily a major hub, the square stretched the size of a soccer pitch, if you removed the fountains and other architecture scattered throughout the open area. Just beyond the city square rose a mighty castle. Other than its traditionally ancient design and massive size, it had little to set it apart from the other structures that stood around it. Various points around the castle were guards armored like knights of old, if they too were chrome plated with glowing neon. The weapons they held were clearly firearms, not something a traditional knight really carried. The insides of the castle was also uniform to the outside world, but with red rugs, empty suits of armor, weapons hanging from the walls, and large chandeliers hanging from the tall ceilings. Further in lay the throne room, and as any castle would have, the king sat upon the throne. Another knight kneeled before him, but his armor stood somewhat apart, signifying a higher rank. His armor shown a whitish silver, with green neon. His helmet was absent.
"Nothing further to report, your grace. Everything remains peaceful."
"Ye take patrol perhaps a bit too seriously." The King laughed. "Thank ye, Apollo."
"Ye be too kind. Calm it may be and has been, but even in times of peace should we keep ever a watchful eye, your Grace."
"Indeed. The people depend on us for their protection, without it there be no people, and without people, there be no kingdom. Thy understanding of this is the reason I assigned ye Knights Captain. Continue thy good labor. Thou art dismissed."
"As ye wish, your grace."
Apollo stood up. Another knight burst in as he turned to leave.
"There be a disturbance, your Grace!" He said, kneeling as Apollo had. "Strange aberrations have been spotted throughout the city. We have slain them, but we are not without wounded. Tis possible there may be more of these creatures still roaming."
The king stood up from his throne. "Retrieve specimens and send them to the Graeae labs for immediate research. Ensure every crevasse and corner be searched and allow no further casualties."
"Right away, my liege."
The knight hurried off. The king sunk back into his seat with a deep sigh. "So much for peace. Apollo, alert thy brothers in arms. Until we know what we be up against, I may need thee in the field. Be on standby until then. For now I will dispatch the Messina unit to help scout for a possible sources of where this threat may come from."
"Affirmative, your grace. As for the Messina unit, I fear I've not heard of their exploits or expertise. If I may request, sire, for what cause of this unit do thou have?"
"Reconnaissance, intelligence, secrecy, and when measures be necessary, assassination." Spoke a voice from behind the throne. A woman emerged from the right side of the seat. "I am Scylla. The other member be my twin sister, Charybdis." Another woman immediately appeared on the left as she was introduced. "Tis very rare we be called on, of course it be likely ye would not have heard of us, even one such as thyself, Apollo of the Sky Guard. Leave all to us, your Majesty." The two women walked forward together.
"Very well." Said Apollo. "Scylla and Charybdis, I bid thee well. If ye will excuse me, I have other matters to which I wish to attend." Apollo walked forward, expecting the two to part as he approached them. Charybdis held her arm out, barring his progress.
"It be unwise to pass between us." She said. Scylla spoke immediately after. "Tis quite rude of thee. Trying to come between means passing too close to one of us. That means one of us would surely kill thee. Nothing personal, but we be a little eager to the trigger."
"Ye may outrank us, but do keep our interests in mind. We'll let it slide this once. Next time, choose more wisely, Apollo." Charybdis said with a chuckle. The woman parted around him and left. Apollo stood still until they were out of the room.
"I do apologize Apollo." The King spoke. "They be moody, but effective with their work also."
Apollo smirked. "That they appear to be. I will report to the Graeae labs for a progress report when the specimens arrive after I've alerted the other two of the Guard."
"Give me that!"
"Stop snatching, Enyo! Ye will have thy turn!"
"Ye have held the eye for long enough, Deino!"
"Be there something I am interrupting?" Apollo asked.
Apollo faced three other women surrounding an examination table with body parts of creatures he had never seen before. They all had grey hair, and appeared aged, but not elderly. They seemed to be fighting over a pair of eye gear that held a single scope on the front like that of a microscope power. The woman named Deino was currently wearing it, trying to focus the lens and examine one of the specimens while Enyo was trying to snatch it off her head. She succeeded after a few seconds, adorning it over her eyes. She then began to examine on her own. Deino stamped her foot and puffed out her cheeks in frustration.
"Mr. Apollo. We weren't expecting thee." The third woman said to him as he approached. "We already be running blood samples, and so far none appear to match anything discovered. It be possible new species have risen to light. As of now we art inspecting their anatomy to find taxonomy placement, but they don't seem to fit. Tis as if they be…alien, completely unrelated to any species discovered thus far. Alright, Enyo thou hath taken long enough. Hand it over!"
"Keep ye damned claws to thyself! I could be making a breakthrough here, Pemphredo."
"I shalt not repeat myself. Relinquish the eye!"
Pemphredo tore the eyepiece away and placed it over her own eyes. Enyo tried grabbing it back, but not before Deino snatched it for herself.
"I couldn't even focus the lens with that amount of time, ye greasy heifers!"
Apollo sighed before he approached the women and took the eyepiece for himself.
"I need information, not bickering. Explain what ye mean by 'alien'? Doth thou believe these creatures come from afar?"
"It be hard to say." Enyo spoke. "Tis true that they be mostly unrelated to anything we hath seen before. But be there also no evidence to explain how they arrived. Most of these beasts appear to be arthropods of some sort, with exoskeletons and multiple pairs of limbs. Two species are more reptilian. One appears as that akin to an aurochs, while the other some predatory big cat. I personally doubt they be native, but as I said before, where dost they come from? At this rate, 'tis likely the Messina Unit would uncover this before we do. Unfortunately that be the only information we can giveth thou. If I be correct, the blood tests will likely raise more questions and answer nothing."
Apollo hesitated before tossing the lens back to the women, leaving them to fight over it once more.
Apollo reported to the castle's central command. A couple knights were there, organizing equipment or reviewing documents on a codex. Two other knights were also present, wearing armor identical to Apollo's, one red and the other blue, differing from his own emerald green.
"How did ye visit to the Graeae go?" Spoke the blue one, noticing Apollo approaching.
"Not as well as I hoped it would be. The only thing we know is that these strange new creatures are unrelated to any other species of animal, and are therefore to be considered alien. But we be at as loss as to how they would have gotten here."
The red spoke next. "Did thou expect anything else, Hermes? Tis a wonder they ever get anything done. I presume all they did was squabble over that eye thing?"
"Ye not be wrong, Icarus."
"Suppose that is that. All else that can be done will fall on the Messina Unit. We be stuck here until his Majesty decides otherwise."
A new knight entered the room, approaching the trio briskly.
"His Grace awaits thee. The Messina Unit have uncovered some interesting truths."
Icarus rolled his eyes. "Speak of the devil and he shall arise. Aye, they sure do work quickly."
Apollo, along with Icarus and Hermes stood within the throne room. A discussion was held between them with the king as Scylla and Charybdis shared their findings.
"Portals?" Questioned Hermes. "These abominations are appearing through portals? Is such a thing possible?"
Apollo rubbed his chin. "Suppose that explains both their alien properties and how they are getting here. Yet I also find it hard to believe that portals exist."
"As did we, until we laid eyes upon this." Scylla said, activating a device on her wrist. A three-dimensional animation appeared, showing the invaders popping up. What they walked out of looked like a violet tear, as if a claw had ripped through the very fabric of space itself. Purple static arced out of the portal occasionally, until it shrunk and disappeared within a few moments. Everyone else was stunned.
"Aye, so 'tis possible." Noted Hermes. "Though surely they open for reasons not clear yet. Our next step shalt be to find the roots."
Everyone pondered the though. They all knew that Hermes couldn't be wrong. If portals were suddenly appearing in their world, simply coincidence seemed highly unlikely. Even worse, the holes brought with them new alien lifeforms. Dealing with them individually was hardly an issue; the real danger being how unpredictable the portals bringing them in were. Icarus made a suggestion that the creatures were demons being summoned in an attempt to overthrow the kingdom or to simply destroy everything. The idea caught everyone's attention, but Charybdis doubted it likely for them to have been someone's direct interference. The placement and behavior of the portals was too random. Some produced aliens while others would not, some closed nearly as soon as they opened, or others would hold themselves open for minutes before closing. The king scratched at his trimmed beard.
"Could it be possible I wonder, if these rifts appear for reasons lying on the other side of them? What if these demons bear the knowledge of otherworldly travel? They seek only to destroy worlds, and have simply found ours?"
Unfortunately, there wasn't much else to go on. Yet they all agreed that either way, answers they sought could only be found on the other side of those portals. Another theory was brought to the table, when the group was suddenly joined by the Graeae researchers.
"We finished our analysis we decided to do on the footage Scylla and Charybdis recovered." Deino spoke, tossing the eye lens in her hand they had fought over when Apollo has last visited them. "Due to the behavior of these wormholes, we believe them to --" Deino clutched a few times, before looking at her empty palm. She huffed angrily when she noticed Enyo held on to it, presumably grabbing it out of the air as Deino tossed it. Enyo picked up where Deino left off.
"We believe they be strains in the fabric of spacetime. While we hath no concrete evidence to thoroughly support this, 'tis an explanation of why they be so random and unpredictable."
Pemphredo expressed sudden shock while she pointed toward the distance and cried, "Hark! There be a distraction!"
While everyone else gave her a puzzled look, Pemphredo's partners looked toward the direction of her finger. In the confusion she snatched the lens from Enyo's hand.
"Oi! That be unfair, ye ungrateful cunt!"
Pemphredo ignored her and continued the theory. "It shalt be known that here within the kingdom itself cannot possibly be the only place that these portals fester. We believe they open up literally anywhere, and potentially even other universes, should they exist."
There was more thought processing among the group. Apollo sighed.
"The reasons matter no longer. I believe the only way to fix this be to journey to the other side."
Apollo drew the looks of everyone. Their expressions all were the same, showing disbelief to Apollo's seriousness in his words. His own expression confirmed all of their worries.
"Surely thou jest!?" Everyone spoke almost all at once.
Pemphredo had even dropped the eye lens in her shock. "Ye believe that if thou shalt go to the other side of the rift, into a world unknown, that ye will find the answers thou seek?"
"I cannot say. However, at the very least I can put an end to the cause of this. These demons then shalt not cometh from whence they came."
"And art thou aware that ye too shalt not cometh back? If the portals cease to exist whilst ye be on the other plane, ye will surely be stuck there. There be the chance ye may never return unto this world."
Apollo's jaw hardened. "Tis a risk worth taking. For the sake of the people and the kingdom, nay, the entirety of our world, it must be done."
The king exhaled calmly. "Ye take it upon thyself to decide this? I will not allow it."
Apollo turned to him. "I apologize in advance if I speak out of line, sire, but we hath no time to explore other alternatives. Protecting this kingdom is our sworn duty, is it not?"
The king hung his head low. He too knew that there was hardly another option than to send whoever willing to brave the potential dangers of exploring a realm unknown. He sighed heavily before speaking.
"Tis the unfortunate truth, I fear. I do not like it, but if this is what thy feel ye must do, then I will support thy decision. But, ye do understand thy will likely not make it back? What would we do in another crisis without thee?"
Enyo spoke before Apollo had gotten the chance to return a response. "Ye need not to worry, your grace. Give me one moment, if thou please."
She left hastily, returning a few moments later with a white, almost tear-shaped device. She tapped on it a few times, and it opened like that of a flower blooming. Inside was a smoky grey sphere core. It pulsed with sky blue neon, and occasionally crackled with static of the same color.
"We are only beginning to scratch the surface with teleportation." Enyo explained. "Sending someone to a location still be beyond us, but we have a way we might be able to get someone back, or 'recall' them. While we hath not yet properly tested it, this is a tether system that once linked, should establish a point that will break down thy form on an atomic level that will then go through a phase of --"
"So it only be possible to teleport back to that thing?" Icarus said, cutting off the deep explanation.
"Once ye properly interface with it, thy 'should'. Tis only a prototype and not sure if it will even work, let alone across worlds."
Scylla pulled a cylinder off of one of her belts. "Tether this flashbang. Perhaps ye can run thy experiment now."
Deino took the flashbang grenade from Scylla and held it near the tether device while Enyo pressed a few buttons on a holographic control panel that projected from the side. Within seconds, blue static arced between the device and the grenade. Thankfully, it didn't cause the weapon to explode. Deino then tossed it across the throne room. Enyo pressed another button and the cylinder disappeared and reappeared in Pemphredo's outstretched hand. Everyone else watched in awe.
"We know it works for at least short distances, but should we perhaps try it through a portal?" Hermes asked. "That will be where we need it to work."
Scylla took her flashbang back. "Set up thy comms, Charybdis. I will alert thee when I can find one and get it through." She then looked at Enyo. "Be it still tethered?"
Enyo nodded. Scylla returned her nod and left. Several minutes passed. The king had sat down on his throne. Icarus and Hermes paced about. Apollo sat silently. The Graeae were squabbling about the eye scope they always fought over. Eventually, Charybdis got a response.
"It is through. I allowed the portal to close before notifying thee. Reporting back." Scylla's voice crackled.
Charybdis turned to the others present. "It is done. Can ye recall it?"
The scientists straightened up. They pressed a few buttons on the hollow screen. There was no response for a moment, but the space in front of the women warped and the flashbang fell to the floor, crackling with blue static. There were many "Oooooooooooh's".
Charybdis scooped it up and left hastily. After a few moments a small boom was heard. She returned moments later with Scylla behind her, rubbing her eyes.
"It be even still functional. It seems that there should be no problems using this system."
Scylla cursed. "Ye could have warned me before ye set it off! I told thee that I was coming back! Did ye forget about that?"
"Did not forget. Just do not care." Charybdis said, with a cold grin.
Apollo stood up. "Then we set out at once. We must, your majesty!"
The king sighed and placed a hand on his forehead. "I still do not like this, but I suppose it must be done. But first, Deino, didn't thou mention ye had also been working on some sort of scout drone?"
Deino thought for a moment. "Something of the sorts. Tis another one of our prototypes."
"Hmm. Doth thou believe we can test that too? Perhaps we can see what else we may be up against?"
Pemphredo held a holo screen in front of her while Deino was moving some controls around. Enyo was still playing with the tether device.
"We've just moved into an open portal sir. We've already lost visual, but we should be able to navigate if I can get some topographical feed. Pemphredo, tell me where I'm going."
"I'm getting something massive to the left. Go there!"
Only seconds later, Pemphredo lowered her screen and pulled off her headset. Her eyes were wide and expression blank.
"We -- we lost it. But…that..."
Everyone focused their attention on her. "What did ye see?" Hermes asked.
"I…I didn't see anything, but whatever it be I got a read on it."
Icarus raised an eyebrow. "And what did the drone say about its power level?"
"It was not enough time to get an exact calculation. But it is somewhere over the base value of ten multiplied by thirty to the second power. Whatever this thing be, it is immensely powerful."
Apollo nodded. "Then we should prepare accordingly."
The tether device made a pinging noise in Enyo's hand.
"'Di immortalis!' Tis finished! You three, come hither!" She said, gesturing for Apollo, Icarus, and Hermes to approach. They obeyed, and after a few button presses, they were momentarily surrounded in blue static.
"Now thou art tethered here. Because it will be likely impossible to communicate across worlds, I've placed a time frame on the tether. Ye will be teleported back here once the time runs out."
Apollo's jaw hardened. "And how long did thou give us?"
"Roughly six months' time. However, this will be redundant from your end, because it be likely that time will flow differently in another world. Could be shorter, could be longer. No definite way to tell, I am afraid, though these should help give you a rough estimate."
Enyo motioned the other two of her colleagues to help her as she instructed the knights to hold their left wrists out. Within seconds the women had meters installed onto their gauntlets, powering up and the gauge filling with blue light.
“Tis full now, and will slowly deplete as your time runs out.” Enyo said.
Apollo nodded. "Then we will waste none. Icarus, Hermes, we leave at once."
He approached the king on his throne and knelt. Icarus and Hermes followed suit.
"The time has come for us to leave, your grace. For the sake of the kingdom, we will venture forth."
The worry once on the king's face was now gone. He sat up, and spoke sternly. "Indeed. I do not wish to waste more of thy time, so I believe ye understand thine objective?"
"Yes, my liege." Spoke Apollo.
"The very fabric of our universe is threatening to collapse. I beseech thee, my greatest warriors, to this. This enemy is far more powerful than anything else ye have faced. Put an end to it and restore the balance of the world. Ye may take Siegfried with thee. Now go!"
"Yes my lord." "As thou wish." Icarus said after. "We shall not fail, your grace." Followed Hermes.
They immediately stood up and turned to leave the throne room. The Graeae scientists, waved as they walked out, with Scylla and Charybdis wishing them Godspeed.
"So an unknown time limit? And the Master permits me to go? Then who shall defend the castle?"
Apollo crossed his arms. "The other knights of the kingdom be more than capable."
Siegfried shifted his wings a bit as blue static crackled around him momentarily. Enyo closed the tether device and departed back to the castle with a final wave.
"And so I am now anchored here?"
"Yes. Once our time limit runs out, we will be phased back here." Apollo continued.
Icarus cleared his throat. "Then let us waste no more.
The dragon nodded. "Very well."
The knights mounted Siegfried, and the dragon took to the skies with a mighty leap. It took several moments, but eventually finding a portal they could get through. Siegfried tucked his wings, diving through the rift. He, along with Apollo, Icarus, and Hermes, disappeared from the land they called their home and into a world unknown.