Prologue – Heroes of Old and New

“…The fuck do you want, old man?”

“Ah, Dean Wrikax, as straightforward with your feelings as ever. How goes things here, at the University?”

“The school’s fine. Better than ever. But that ain’t what you’re here to talk about, is it?”

“Indeed. Judging by your attitude, you must have heard, then? About the Keys?”

“Sure, if that’s what you call those Earthian Chaotics. Look, I don’t appreciate what you’re tryin’ to use the Schools of Chaos for. Our schools are for Nimalians, and top-tier Chaotics, at that. Why’re you tryin’ to shove a buncha outsider scrubs into the system?”

“I understand that the Schools of Chaos are intended for Nimalia’s best and brightest, but this makes them excellent for teaching the Keys how to use their newfound abilities. Your school in particular has classes and curriculum with just that goal in mind, does it not?”

“Well, yeah, but that’s for Tresédian Chaotics who never had a chance at proper schoolin’. It ain’t a loophole to shove anyone you want into the system!”

“Wrikax… just what do you know about the Keys?”

“Hmph. I know that it’s some kinda bullshit from that Oraculm of yours.”

“The same Oraculm that predicted and aided in the anti-Nanocreature efforts twenty years ago.”

“…Bullshit. You never offered one bit of advice back then.”

“Not directly to you or the rest of your squad, no. But I did speak to Commander Nikéyin several times. It was at my behest that she created Hero Machina in the first place, and it was at my behest that she continued to put you on missions even after it looked as though you were falling apart. I would like you to take a guess as to why I made these suggestions.”

“…What, that stupid fuckin’ book? I find that hard to believe.”

“Believe it or not, the Oraculm holds the secrets to our future. If we wish to survive, we must abide by them — or at least take them into account.”

“And these… ‘Keys’ are a part of that?”

“Indeed. Surely the word must have some meaning to you? According to old mission reports, the Priors you ran into twenty years ago all mentioned Keys at some point.”

“…Coincidence. It’s gotta be.”

“It is not. The Keys, these eight Earthian Chaotics, are instrumental in saving our galaxy from absolute ruin. You have seen for yourself just how dangerous Morcii and his Nanocreatures are. You have seen for yourself the evidence that the Nanocreatures are returning. You have heard for yourself the history of the ancient Aldredas from the Prior Arcán. Surely, you must realize that we must actively support the Keys of our time, lest we make the exact same mistakes as our ancestors.”

“Fuckin’… alright. Fine. Let’s say I agree with all that. But there’s still a problem here — how do you know these Earthians are the Keys?”

“Oh please, Wrikax, I hardly need the Oraculm to tell that. During the brief Chaos Quake a couple months ago, two of them were on a Nimalian world — and I’ve received a report that they could use their abilities during that time, when no other Chaotic could. That alone should be proof that they are, in the very least, exceedingly abnormal — and therefore worthy of our attention.”

“What? You received a ‘report’? Where’s the proof, huh? Sounds like bullshit, to me.”

“Well, what of the definitively verifiable reappearance of the Master Ayas in the same location as the Ayas Keys immediately prior to the Quake? And then once more on Earth, a month later? Nimalia’s own Ayas Sensors detected it.”

“…Coincidence.”

“You speak that word a lot. I begin to wonder if you truly understand its meaning.”

“Look, old man, you may’ve convinced Kevken, Kaoné, and Rebehka that that stupid book of yours has merit, and they might’ve convinced Kevérin to let these ‘Keys’ into the fuckin’ system. But that don’t mean that I believe a word outta your mouth. If those ‘Keys’ end up at WCU, then I’ll teach ‘em just fine, ‘cause that’s my job… but I still ain’t convinced that they’re anythin’ more than a coincidental fluke. You’re gonna need more than that dusty tome to convince me.”

“Very well. I am content that you are at least willing to give them a chance. But be warned, Wrikax — recent years have made it abundantly clear that whatever you did to vanquish Morcii the first time is not a permanent solution. If you are able to think of something else to handle the growing threat, then I would be pleased to hear it, but as things stand… the Keys are the only answer.”

“If the Keys are our only answer then it’ll be because I trained ‘em up to be the best Chaotics there ever were, not because your dumb prophetic brick said so. I don’t need no ‘prophecy’ to tell me what to do; only I get to do that.”

“If you say so. I only wish you the best in your efforts.”

“Damn straight. If we beat the Nanocreatures once, then we can do it again! I’d bet my ass on it!”

“Heh… if you insist. But I have now said everything that I have meant to say; I must get going now.”

“Yeah, yeah… somethin’ about goin’ to Earth with Kaoné and Kevken to meet up with these ‘Keys’, huh? Sounds fun. Now don’t let that door hit you on the way out… or do. That’d be funny.”

“Ah, Dean Wrikax, you truly never change. It’s refreshing to speak to someone who doesn’t let my title change how they interact with me. That being said, however, I must insist that you keep everything I have said here in mind. Your story is long past; these coming years will be driven by the new generation. And between all of the looming evils that threaten the peace and livelihood of the entire galaxy… only time will tell if anyone will be left to record the saga of the Keys.”