Chapter 105 - Space
SPACEPSSPACSPACE I AM IN FUCKING SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!
Excuse me for freaking out. I am slightly hyper right now because I AM IN SPACE.
Fifteen minutes of spinning and tumbling in zero gravity later, I calm down a bit. I look around, one half of my view is occupied by a planet. A crescent of blue atmosphere frames green, blue, and yellow ridges. And what a shade of blue it is. I once read an article about astronauts being unable to describe the shade of blue that surrounds a planet. The man in question said that photos just don’t do it justice. I totally agree.
The other half is near empty blackness. The sun is somewhere off to the left, and I see a partial moon to the right. The stars are outshone by both the sun and the moon, letting me only glimpse a twinkle here and there.
I am in fucking space! For the first time in my three lives, I'm in space. Turning my back to the planet and sun allows me to see the starscape. A band of white paints the galaxy around me in a milky streak. Absolutely breathtaking.
I bask in the absolute silence, the gushing of my blood and pounding of my heart loud in my ears. I take a shallow breath of the air around me. The atmosphere at this altitude is non-existent. Only my newly gained wind affinity allows me to keep a bubble of the stuff around me without spending obscene amounts of qi.
I take a deep breath and compress the air into my lungs. I chuckle soundlessly. I thought that would be more qi efficient, but I now have to increase the qi circulation under my skin to stop myself from freezing very slowly.
A lot of the radiation in deep space is being deflected by this planet’s magnetic field, but I'm still being bombarded by a broad spectrum of harmful radiation. I have… around five more minutes before the damage to my cells and DNA becomes a problem. Let’s get to work.
I turn towards the planet. A massive ocean is below me. I see the vague outlines of the human and beastkin kingdoms contrasted against the sea. Squinting, I see the mage islands, no longer a symmetrical formation now that Darkness Island has gone the way of the dodo. From up here the artificial nature of the islands is even more apparent.
Tower, Triangle and the round Mana dungeon are just big enough for me to make them out. I do need to enhance my eyes quite a bit, layering a sheet of qi across my retina to even catch a glimpse of them. I see some more odd shapes jutting from the landscape here and there. A massive yellow cube is poking up from the desert to the south of the lands I have explored so far, and I spot an elongated spike to the east of the beastkin countries. A massive sphere is surrounded by dark lands further south. I think I spot something oddly spiky to the north, but the sheer density of the atmosphere at that shallow angle rob me of a clear view.
The opposite side of the ocean is another story altogether. I feel an odd shiver every time I look at those colourful lands. Streaks of non-natural colours like pink, neon green, red and purple are just as prevalent as the normal greens and browns. I will have to investigate whether that’s because the lands are those odd colours or because of some other reason.
I flash some emotions, and an entirely different sight greets my eyes. The areas around the dungeons are slightly brighter, indicating elevated levels of mana. The mage islands flare brightly with their respective mana types. The opposite continent is a patchwork of dense mana.
The longer I look at that continent, the more oddities I notice. I can't spot any dungeons over there, but the lands are rather weird. I see an elevated swath of land, but instead of the mountain ranges one would expect, it's a bulging sort of hills. They seem to be tens of kilometres high. The atmosphere also bulges weirdly over there, as if the rising lands also push the air upwards, gravity be damned.
I have not found any information about that continent anywhere, which seems odd. The dragons know there is land there, but the lack of data indicates a lack of knowledge or interest from Rhea’s kin. Next destination found and locked in!
I look towards the south pole, but I'm not high enough to get a proper look at any possible ice caps. To be honest, it took quite a bit of effort to get this high in the first place.
The concept of ‘will’ comes into play at the foundation realm. Normal cultivators barely have a sliver of the stuff when they enter the foundation realm, but my cultivation path is anything but normal.
A single person possessing such a massive amount of power has an effect on the world, allowing the wielder to force things to change with only their mind. I am using my will to remain floating here, regardless of gravity. I used my wind affinity to build up speed, but holding myself up here is starting to become draining. The initial power boost I got from leveling up a realm is reaching its limit.
I glance at the moon. I want to go there and build a moonbase, but my current will is insufficient for extended spaceflight.
I look at the planet's surface for a bit longer, filling in my mental map piece by piece. I can't help but grin, even as I feel my DNA being bombarded by the lower spectrum of radiation.
Wow, what was that?
I look down and see a long streak of red mist.
Ow, this is weird. Why is there a hole in my stomach? Why are all my alarm and detection processes going wild? I blink a couple of times. I can't feel my legs. Ah, there comes combat mode.
Assess. Scanning maximum range. Vacuum hampers scanning range. Switch to passive. Sense radiation. Sources of infrared detected. Speeds … fast. Orbital? Meteoroids? Start mapping. Ordered orbits. Not natural. Satellites are of artificial nature. No radiation in visible spectrum. Stealth satellites.
Detecting projectile. Will air upwards, use as reaction mass. Spot flare of projectile burning up in atmosphere. Passed mere meters above own head.
Damage report. Spine severed, entire lumbar curve is gone. Dantian attack. Lost ninety per cent of small intestines. Remaining ten per cent is freezing. Massive damage to stomach area.
Preliminary conclusion; cultivator killer. Why delay? Stealth satellite with nearly undetectable projectiles.
Possibility of reaching ground safely is low. Unsteady cultivation base due to recent breakthrough combined with severely compromised body limits possibilities. Enter Tree? Medallion will survive re-entry. Enter Tree.
A bearded man flops down on a grassy field. The lights of a smattering of small suns filter through the leaves of a massive tree. Blood spews from his mangled midsection as he lies in the grass, unmoving.
A hand holding a fork freezes halfway to Re-Haan’s mouth. A lonely ship is bobbing on a silent ocean as dragons circle overhead. A group of people is sitting around a table on the deck, eating and chatting. The tallest female sitting at the head of the table turns pale as she opens her mouth a couple of times. She then snaps her gaze upwards, searching the sky.
The animated chatter and eating noises immediately disappear.
“He was breaking through.”
“Why are we eating like this?”
“Something doesn’t feel right.”
Multiple eyes now search the sky. A chair scrapes across the deck and falls backwards as Re-Haan stands, brows furrowed. All eight figures stand and anxiously peer upwards.
“I was wondering why there were so many dragons here.” Ket rubs his forehead as he closes his eyes.
“Re, where are you-” The question Tess was directing towards the dragoness halts halfway in her throat. Rhea jumps upwards, cracking the deck under her feet. A fierce gust accompanies the jumping female as she soars into the sky.
Ket then looks at a smallish girl. “Sel, make lenses. Something is up there.”
Selis waves her hand a bit, causing a large glob of water to rise from the sea. She stares at the water as the water becomes crystal clear. Murky salt crystals drop on the wooden deck as she starts shaping a series of large biconvex lenses.
“Someone steer the ship away from here. Re-Haan didn’t employ a stealth shield, those dragons will discover us at this rate.”
Vox runs to the steering wheel and starts frantically pressing buttons. Rows of oars splash in the sea and start rowing at top speed. The entire ship shudders as it starts moving.
Ares speaks up next. “Selis, go calm our wake. I can bend the light just as well. Ket, where should I look?”
Water washes away the salt as Selis runs to the stern. Ares starts glowing slightly as the air above her starts to warp and fracture.
“Follow Re.” Kets stands next to Ares as the rest gathers around, looking upwards through the warped air.
“What is that pink streak?” Bord points a chubby finger to the side of where everyone is looking at.
“What pink streak?” asks Angeta.
“Over there! Just look really hard.”
The wrapped air shifts and a slight haze of pink becomes visible. Bord’s finger shifts slightly. “Something is falling over there.”
“I can’t see it.” Ares frowns as the distortion shifts minutely.
“There are triangles in your eyes. Look with those.” Everyone glances at Bord for a split second before looking up again.
“Nope, can't see it either. Oh, there is Re-Haan.” Ket narrates as they all see a streak of white shooting upwards. They see a small winged form, covered in an azure glow, streaks of fog condensing in trails behind her.
“Did she just eat something?” asks Tess.
“Oh, she is gone,” notes Angeta.
“Ah, she caught and entered Tree.” Spectacle over, Bord saunters over to the food-laden table and starts snacking.
“What happened? Tree?” Ket is looking somewhat confused now.
Bord shrugs while licking a plate clean. “The Tree necklace Teach is always wearing was falling from up really high. Re-Haan caught it and entered.”
“Is it still falling?” Ket is now standing very close to Bord, who slowly backs away.
“Uuhm, yeah. Over there.” He points a finger without looking while picking up a sausage.
“Where will it land?” Vox raises his voice unnecessary to be heard over the splashing of oars.
“There.” Bord shifts his finger to somewhere on the horizon as he starts chewing on a piece of vegetable.
“How do you know this!” Ket seems about to freak out now.
“Just triangulate it, duh...” Bord looks at the black haired boy with a hint of pity in his eyes while chewing.
“Fffff. You and your fucking triangles!” Hands in his hair, Ket jumps towards the crow's nest and starts looking towards where Bord pointed.
“INCOMING! SWITCHING TO SHIELD!” shouts Vox.
Dragons circle across an undisturbed piece of ocean. A single light purple specimen dives down. Opening its mouth, a stream of compressed air shoots towards the empty sea. Moments before impact, a ship springs into visibility. The devastating gust of wind shears around a spherical field that sprung up milliseconds before, churning the sea around it into fine droplets.
“Of course the wind dragon heard us, you retards!”
“Bord, come here and wear this armour!”
“Evasive actions, hard ri… starboard!”
“Stupid humans, stupid dragons! Eat plants!”
Various voices echo across the water, catching the attention of every single flying lizard. Globs of water, strings of seaweed and beams of light start flying upwards, greeting the diving dragons.
“Why chainmail? I can take them on, go away Ket, no!”
“Just wear it. It will be fine! Tess, help me put it on.”
“Alright, he is wearing it! What do we do now?”
A grey glow precedes a flying projectile which smacks into a diving red dragon at high speed. Cursing sounds can be heard as Bord tears the metal chainmail from his body, jumping from dragon to dragon as triangles play across his flab.
A white streak flies through the air, causing small sonic booms with each course correction, leaving paw-shaped indents in hard scales. The dragons get smacked to the side, one by one. Elemental breath attacks splash against the shield surrounding the ship, making the sea churn, freeze and boil at the same time.
Miles away, a black necklace is falling from high in the sky, racing towards the sea.
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