Chapter 117 - Secession
Re-Haan is conflicted. That feeling in itself is fairly new. The situation she finds herself in is also new. The power surging through her head is also new.
The dragoness always saw herself as different. From her rare colour and elemental affinity combination at birth to the way she lived her life. She never used to sleep as much as all the other dragons and always wanted to know more. Instead of focussing on growing her own power base in hibernation, as all good dragons should, she wanted to do stuff instead of lying about all day, all week, all year.
Her banishment to the human kingdom of Shi-Eit as one of the watchers was a shock to no-one. Waking every ten years or so to check if the humans weren’t fucking up too severely is seen like work beneath the status of a dragon by nearly all of the Flight, only suitable for troublemakers and political enemies.
A shame that sleeping is still the most efficient way to progress in power, even with qi, she thinks wryly. Having spent most of the past few weeks asleep in Drew’s castle, she reached the core forming stage at a rapid pace. Even Drew told her she was one of the fastest progressing new cultivators he had ever seen.
That’s why, when Drew told her about the mass migration of mana mutants that he caused, she wasn't angry at him per se. She was pissed off that he managed to have such an influence on the world she inhabited for so much longer than him. Angry at the fact that all these new feelings and experiences stemmed from this single person. Angry at their own confusion about all these things.
“We can fix this easily! I alone can beat those beasties up and restore the mana balance, no need to stay angry.”
Angry at the fact that this man, who could overpower her with his pinky finger, keeps pretending to be scared of her wrath. Angry at the fact that she can’t find a single trace of this duplicity in the man’s aura when he is running before her scathing glare.
“Stop glaring at me like that, please! We can fix this in a thousand ways. You won't get in trouble with the big guys back at Flight mountain, ‘kay?”
Angry that the man could indeed fix it easily, but still insists that he needed the help of her and the rest of the people he surrounds himself with.
Angry because the symbol of power that all on this world fear, the dragons, are like toy lizards to this man.
Angry at herself. Re-Haan stops in her tracks. She is angry at herself. Pausing all of the processes running through her mind, she assigns all thinking power to this idea. If everyone you meet is an asshole, you are the asshole. If everything you see makes you angry, you are the one causing that anger.
Each scenario and theory she throws at this problem gives her the same, painful feedback.
It’s not them. It’s her. She is angry at herself, for some reason.
Why though? She is an amazing dragon, one of the pinnacle beings. A beautiful monster, engineered and slapped together by some ascended upstart.
Ah, there it is. She never should have tasked Database with analysing her DNA, after all.
She even compared her own DNA to the mutated mess of a mana mutant. Her DNA looked like a tangled knot of spaghetti in comparison.
“There was this amazing building back on the cultivation world. Its majesty was known to half the planet and all the big sects. Even mundane mortals continents away heard of its splendour. It stood on top of the tallest mountain around, its tip piercing the mesosphere. It looked like a palace for gods, its architectural perfection leaving a permanent mark on everyone who gazed upon its splendour.”
The mana mutant’s DNA, one of the fishes the students experimented on, was forcefully ripped apart and fused back together in random configurations by the mana imbalance. Her own code of life looks like someone took a couple of dozen random species, put them in a blender and then strung every single strand of DNA together into a single horrible mess.
“I visited it once. It was made from a very special and rare material. I managed to take a sample and analyse it. You know what it was made from?”
That horrible mess is her very flesh and bone, each cell and fibre a horrible corruption of life. She managed to push it away for a bit, consciously deciding not to think about it. This sudden bout of morose self-reflection brought it right back into focus though...
“SHIT!” Drew throws his hands up into the air and spins around for a bit. “Each beautifully transparent piece of masonry was made up from the shit, poop and excrement of some age-old beast. It’s colonic digestion compressing the indigestible detritus from its food into a material harder than diamond.”
What is he even talking about? The rambling sort of went in one ear and out the other. Luckily, with her braincore, she can rewatch the past few minutes as if rewinding a video. So she does just that, distracting herself from the neurotic mess that her thoughts have become.
“So, what I am trying to say… It doesn't really matter what you are made from. We are all exploded stars, after all. Every single molecule in your body has been forged in explosions powerful enough to obliterate worlds. Each atom in my body has probably been shit, piss, spit or sperm at some point in time. Looking back will prevent you from seeing the future. Shall I continue to spout platitudes or do you get what I am trying to say?”
Sure, that kind of puts things in perspective, but those ways of looking at the subject are so far away, while the depressing truth seems so close.
“Maybe it was a mistake to tell other people about braincores? I only barely managed to cling onto sanity as is, a mind is a fragile thing. Just pumping more power into a consciousness without proper guidance is bound to cause instability. Just look at that stupid braincore cult...”
Now his aura feels immensely conflicted, a towering uncertainty riddled with guilt. He covers it up before too long, but she still felt it. Before Re-Haan realizes what she is doing, she has her arms wrapped around him. He tries to talk, but she shuts him up with her own mouth. He tries to move away but she holds him closer.
“H-Hey, what are you doing? Hmmmhpfh...”
That man, that towering existence, is just human after all. She, being a mighty dragon, should understand man’s fragility better than anyone. She knows how easily they break.
“Phuaaah. Let me take a breath once in a while, okay?”
Situation defused! That could have gone so incredibly wrong. It took me too long to recognise the vicious cycle Rhea’s thoughts where taking. Any kind of existential issues are exacerbated by having idle brain space, and Database sent me a red flag on a DNA analysis she had issued.
The feelings of despair and helplessness it felt radiating from Rhea is the difference between knowing and understanding how much of a genetic freak she is. So I decided to distract her with some high-grade charlatan self-help psychology nonsense. With a side dish of vulnerability from my side. Thank goodness it worked.
I know it worked because she is grinding on me and has been kissing me for the past five minutes. I can only commend her for turning that psychological trauma into sexual energy. More power to her, I’d say!
It’s two hours later now. I look at the surrounding jungle with a satisfied smile on my face. Well, there isn’t too much left of the jungle.
I look at the surrounding craters and splintered wood with a smile on my face. Rhea is snoozing against my chest, half asleep. I’m kind of sleepy myself but refuse to give in to the horrible time waster that is unconsciousness.
Instead, I decide to take stock.
So I close my eyes and take nearly all of my augur energy. I then sink that into my necklace. Each small detail comes into view as the object is replicated atom by atom in my mind. I observe the perfect, flattened sphere of black material. The sunken tree half sticking out of the black metal shines with hidden power. The spatial distortion inside its small trunk is even brighter with potential energies.
I peer through that small hole in space into the pocket dimension. A little universe greet my eyes. A cult of mad science dogs, a hedonistic tribe of food snatchers and a zealous bunny church are also visible.
Let’s focus on that one later, shall we? I need to prepare mentally before I can handle that.
Tree is doing fine. The crown of mana crystals is petering out now; it’s glowing lines dimming slowly. Tree takes a portion for itself and distributes the rest evenly across the stretch of land surrounding it.
Database, my qi clone, has been hard at work building a large industrial complex between its roots. The spatial hole connecting this universe and the pocket dimension is pretty flexible. Absorbed materials don't need to touch the necklace or Tree itself to be transported. Database has absorbed and ejected large amounts of seawater during the time it took us to get to this continent. Even now, I feel the ground beneath me shift as portions of it are taken. Plants sometimes vanish before my eyes as Tree demands them.
What began as a single tree floating in an empty void is now a vast tract of land. The thick pancake of earth surrounding Tree has a radius of twenty kilometres. The mountains finally look like they belong instead of the comically large pieces of rock on a small circle of dirt they were previously.
The sea surrounding the land has also grown. It used to be a small ring of floating water, now a large tract of sea surrounds Tree. Beaches separate land from the sea. Half of these beaches are frigid, the other tropical. The moon influences the sea quite a bit now, helping it circulate around the lands.
The seawater is heated by the volcano and cooled by the ice mountain. This forms steam, which forms clouds. The clouds occasionally rain on the land, keeping the soil moist. Tree used to manually direct water through its lands. Now it happens automatically.
Two factors pushed this expansion, the absorption of more raw material and the infusion of qi. All matter is energy, and qi can create new matter. The intent behind the qi is important here, but neutral infusion causes growth and strengthens the affected material.
Beneath Tree’s roots is a large chamber filled with raw materials. That is my personal stockpile of pure elements. Dangerous stuff like chlorine and pure magnesium is stored in reinforced ceramic vessels or in inert compound forms like salts or oxides.
All the filtering happens through qi formations. For example, splitting seawater into its elemental forms is rather easy. Simply funnel any material through a formation that loosens molecular bonds and let it spray over a large periodic table made from qi. All the elements will be attracted by their respective elemental symbols. Then you just have to collect the raw, pure matter while preventing it from combusting or exploding. Pretty simple, right?
The moon is still the same size, a mere few kilometres in diameter. Any qi that comes near it is immediately absorbed by my qi clone. This makes the moon an excellent training ground. Qi spent on its white surface is immediately lost as my clone assimilates it, encouraging effective power usage.
The only thing I’m not totally satisfied with is the ambient qi level. They are dropping or keeping steady. I originally planned on letting this dimension develop for a decade before introducing new people, but now all my school members are sucking it dry.
Cultivation is taking energy for oneself, after all. Training, fighting and living expends it while generating a tiny fraction more, but a sizable amount gets turned into permanent construction qi. This passive reinforcement is to blame for the dropping qi levels.
I know how to fix this problem temporarily, but stealing mana from this planet is not a long-term solution. I took a sizable percentage of ambient mana for myself by advancing to the foundation level. Raiding dungeons for their mana crystals also has a limit. The qi generated by the dimension itself can’t keep up with projected qi usage, it’s a problem I have not found a solution for yet.
All the power of this planet is enough to create a single pre-ascension level cultivator. No, stop thinking about that. I will find a solution sometime. My current natural lifespan is hundreds of years, and I can make my body physically immortal. I will find a solution.
I’ll speed up the qi corruption of the sun if I need to. All the problems that that will generate are for future me to figur-
“I’m going to impose order.”
Rhea’s voice shakes me from my ever darker thoughts. “The what now?”
“I rule part of a continent. It’s a black mark on my life if the organisation, sect or school I’m part of is a chaotic mess.”
I look down at the dragoness laying on my chest. A purple light is flickering in her grey pupils. A purple fire of determination.
“The past has no grasp. Looking back makes us blind.”
Her hand reaches for the necklace still around my neck. I grab the slender limb before she can make contact. “First, we should make ourselves presentable.”
She looks down at our naked forms and blushes. I grin at the thought of an angry naked woman whipping groups of humanoids into shape.
“Do you have a spare dress? Mine is lying over there. And over there.”
“I do. I bought a lot of clothes and cloth in Tower City, what do you want?”
A short fashion show and qi fueled tailor session later, we are both dressed to the nines. I am wearing neat leather sneakers, maroon pants and a muted anthracite shirt. Rhea is wearing a Chinese inspired dress, jet black and mauve lines.
Maroon is dark red, anthracite is dark grey, jet black is a darker shade of grey and mauve is a light purple, by the way.
Double checking the fit of her dress by hand, I check Database for a status update. I smile widely. “Honey, we are just in time. Let’s go.”
She nods. I look her in the eyes and see plans rolling through her mind. “What are you going with? Reason, shock and awe, oppression or something different?”
“I’ll take advantage of my… racial traits, I think.”
“Let’s knock ‘m dead, then.”
We both grin like sharks.
“Database, can you ask Teach to provide a ring for Ferah?”
I slap a hand on Ket’s shoulder. “No need, I’m coming along!”
I then give some dating advice while watching Tess trying to mother Ferah. Ah, the innocence of youth.
Then Rhea makes her move and shoots up into the sky. Above Tree, above the large and complex web of intricate qi lines, she transforms into a dragon. Purple light outshines the smattering of small suns, brighter than the golden glow of Tree. I turn and gaze upwards, my eyes fixated on the fluid form of Re-Haan.
Through the veil of light, I see wings sprout from her back. Logically speaking, I should be feeling some kind of revulsion. The woman I just had sex with is now morphing into a lizard, each beautiful curve turning into goopy slime. Instead, I feel a weird sort of awe. The small energy portal near her heart is not open. She is doing this with the power of her qi alone. She is performing a task that the ascended powerhouse responsible for the creation of this planet and her race barely managed.
The light dims, allowing the people around me to gaze upon her. Her form is slicker than before, larger too. She used to be big, but not huge. Now she is towering above the lands, immense wings moving vast tracts of air to stay aloft. Her massive maw opens to speak.
“Haha, Drew, I did it! I cracked the transforming code myself, whoohoo!”
Her happy voice thunders through the dimension, shaking earth and swaying trees. I reply in kind. “CALL ME TEACH!”
“Ahum, what I meant was… PITIFUL BEINGS. THOU HAVE FALLEN INTO NARROW-MINDED CORNERS, FAILING TO SEE THE WORLD FOR THE WELL THOU ARE IN. HEED MY WORDS.”
Looking around, I see everyone bowing to the spectacle. Tess and Ket are looking at each other, communicating without words. Ferah is secretly looking upwards while bowing with her butt in the air.
“THOU ALL SHALL COOPERATE AND PERFORM MISSIONS LAID UPON THOU BY THE DATABASE. FOLLOW ITS GUIDANCE WHILE WALKING THINE OWN PATH!”
My grin is getting painful. It's so wide. Even I am in awe of the show she is putting on. I am super curious on how she plans on ending this.
That is until a white streak speeds towards the floating behemoth and puts a large dent in its side. I see Rhea’s massive body bend under the blunt force delivered by tiny white paws.
“THE BUNNY HERETICS ATTACKED A DRAGON!”
“Science will prevail against dragons, bunnies and food both!”
“OBEY THE DRAGON!”
“COOK THAT DRAGON FOR LORD BORD!”
“I’M SORRY MY BEAUTIFUL GODDESS ANGETA, BUT I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT, AND IT’S NAME IS LOLA!”
“ALL HAIL THE WHITE AND PURPLE!”
“STOP RESISTING SCIENCE, YOU FOOLS. ALL IS CLEAR THROUGH NUMBERS!”
Rhea and Lola begin an epic battle in the sky as the people around us declare their allegiance. I pull out a bucket of popcorn and feel two gazes upon my back. I pull a comfortable couch from my ring and sit on one side. Ket and Tess flop down beside me and I pass them the bucket.
“She planned on civilising these savages or something?” Tess asks while chewing.
“Yeah,” I reply.
“Four factions instead of three has a wider equilibrium. Less chance of a majority happening this way. That is… positive?” Ket frowns while gazing at the spectacle.
A large tract of forest is crushed when Rhea crashlands and jumps back into the air. Lola is punched through the thick layer of earth and into space seconds later, kicking the air and bursting through a fresh patch of the jungle a split second later. Large trails of dirt and plant follow the white projectile.
“At least it’s interesting...” I comment.
“That it is...” Tess also seems conflicted as Ferah crawls onto her lap, only to grab some popcorn.
“A dragon fighting a bunny is statistically unlikely anywhere but here, so yeah...”
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