Chapter 124 - Beastnapping
The foundation of everything is important. In every single aspect of life, the beginning is of paramount significance. A good beginning is half the battle. Preparation is key. Success is preparation meeting opportunity. By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail. Spending a large time sharpening the axe instead of immediately chopping with a blunt instrument. I could come up with more, but that would cost effort.
I’m in the dumps again. I thought things were going pretty well, you know. The kids I kidnapped seem to like me. Lola is too good for this world. A nice dragoness chick at my side. Tree is getting along nice, developing in a rather cool direction. Database brought some order to the entire things, only for me to induce more chaos in the form of a couple hundred kidnappees. I saw the way forward.
Then I realize that it's all built on an unsustainable model. Three entire missing pairs of power. Why didn’t I notice until now? Brain the size of a planet, common sense the size of an electron. Because I know better, yes indeed. Fuck the experiences accumulated from millions of man hours and countless generations. Those guys back in the cultivation world were all so dumb, of course, I knew better.
Instead of calmly scouting out this world, the first thing I do is messing with powers beyond my understanding. Fuck preparing for whatever possibilities lay ahead. It’s impossible for the people living in this world to be smarter than me, right? Pride comes before the fall, and I’m falling pretty hard.
A lot of alarm bells are going off in my mind. I look at them with pure apathy. Yes, I am feeling depressed right now. Yes, I am indeed in a vicious circle that will end in self-destruction somehow. Yes, I will most likely spend the next few subjective years swirling qi through my head while I nitpick at everything I did wrong, ever. I might even go through every single memory I’ve made on this world and explore how my inaction made things worse for people. Maybe even extrapolate on the suffering I will have caused through good intentions.
The alarms now silenced, I roll up my mental sleeves. Might as well get to it then, thinking yourself out of a depression is nearly impossible. Not totally impossible, so I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.
Rhea carries a dead-eyed Teach back to the shore. Tess is wringing her hands, Ferah is looking at the disappearing beasties in awe and Ket stares fixedly at Teach’s forehead. Ket is also the first to speak as Rhea comes near.
“What happened? He is crawling at a pace I have never seen before.”
“I wondered about the mutant distribution. He freaked out and then went catatonic. I had to slap him so hard my hand broke. He woke briefly, healed me and went unresponsive again.” Rhea says as she gently lays Teach on the grass.
“There is a reason why there are so few shadow mutants here?” Tess stares across the dwindling river. A few beasts still try swimming across, only to disappear in a white and golden flash when they approach. The opposite shore is calming down now that the duo of Teach and Rhea have retreated.
Ket’s eyes regain their lustre as he pulls his qi from his brain. “Tree is not absorbing light, dark and air mana. These affinities are also underrepresented with the muties. Is he worried about that?”
Ket is frowning hard, deep creases between his brows. He kneels down and places a hand on teach’s forehead. His eyes go glassy again and he falls down like his strings are cut. He lies there, unmoving for a second before jumping up in a panic. He coughs and splutters for a bit before calming down.
Tess rushes over and starts hovering over him, unsure what to do. “Ket! You okay?”
“Ah, yeah. Teach is… Fighting with a dark monster? I tried to make a connection with him, but his thinking speed is many folds faster than me. I only got glimpses of something he is struggling with.”
“Fighting something in his mind?” Rhea is biting her lip as she kneels down. Touching his forehead, she reacts similar to Ket, glassy eyes and falling afterwards. She pants with a panicked voice. “Fuck the all-dragon. What is he doing to himself?”
“I got the feeling he is doing this on purpose,” says Ket.
Rhea, still a bit pale, nods. “As irresponsible as ever.”
“The muties still got kidnapped, though. I think it’s a good idea to give those useless cultists and zealots something to worry about other than who to annoy. We could… you know...” Tess starts out with a lot of enthusiasm but deflates in the later parts of her little spiel.
“I think I get it, and that would be pretty awesome.” Ket starts grinning at Tess, who smiles back.
“I think Drew just needs some time to figure stuff out.” Re-Haan looks down on the still figure and strokes his bearded cheek softly. ”So who is doing the heavy lifting? We got two braincores, a child and a gutcore.”
Rhea and Ket stare at Tess. Ferah joins in after a few seconds. Tess gets flustered. “Wha? Why would I need to lug him around? I’m a girl, you should be doing the heavy lifting!”
“Weak braincore, strong gutcore.” Pointing to himself and then Tess, Ket lays out his arguments.
“Wha? No, that… rraaaAAAH!” Unable to refute their logic, Tess angrily hauls Teach on her back.
Four figures can be seen running across a river, towards a large horde of gathered monsters on the opposite side. The gathering of normal looking weird monsters and freaky mutations all perk up, preparing to pounce them as soon as they get in range. A rather large millipede covered in metallic organs rears its ugly head and launches itself towards the approaching people.
“Eeeh, that thing is super gross!” Tess squeals a high pitched complaint. Her knees tremble a bit while running across the water. The large bundle on her back is unmoving.
“Teach’s process should kidnap it any moment now. It’s getting rather close, prepare to do-” The tallest figure, Re-Haan calmly observes while striding across the water.
“WOOOHOOOO. RUNNING ACROSS WATER IS FUUUUUUN!” Ferah is going red-faced while trying to keep up.
“Highest concentrations are coming from the south-east. Take a right, Tess.” Ket’s voice is rather calm.
“I know which direction south-east is, Ket! Thank you so much for clarifying. I coul-” Tess’s annoying tone halts as she nearly stumbles while reaching land. Her foot sinks through the soft soil, she recovers by sinking up to the knees in shadows.
Animals around them disappear the moment they come within ten or so meters of Tess. They turn into white and golden streaks that streak towards Teach, tied to her back. The surrounding hordes only seem to become angry at this fact and every single animal on the mountain face and river shore starts stampeding towards the running group.
“Ket, when are we going to tell her that she can put Teach on her mount?” Rhea’s amused voice is soft.
Not soft enough to not be overheard though. Tess screeches to a halt. Now fuming, the girl strides over to her mount, throws Teach across its back and gives it a slap across it’s rump. The feathered tiger yowls and runs off. Ferah, Ket and Re-Haan start hauling ass, sprinting after the agitated beast.
“Guys, we can take it easy! Why are you running after...” Tess, still standing still and slightly confused, stops talking as she hears the thundering of feet, claws and paws behind her. The single safe space for hundreds of meters, the void around Teach, is rapidly moving away from her.
Tess also starts hauling ass. “WAIT FOR MEEEEE!”
“RAAAWR. Just like the good old days! Hotfeet, catch!” Angeta kicks one of the falling beasts, a green marmot, towards her own mount, a scaled, dark grey capybara with flaming red feet. The animal snorts in annoyance and sneezes towards the flying marmot. The poor beast goes up in flames, turning to ash in seconds.
“Don’t burn the tasty ones!” Bord is sitting on his own mount, a large brown plated bull. The hunk of meat in his hands grows smaller at a visible rate as he takes large bites. He breaks chunks off the bone, throwing them at anything that dares to come near him.
“Come on, you big snake. Help me fight! You don't need that hair to beat up stuff.” Vox is yelling at a hole in the ground. His own mount, a blonde-haired snake, is still bald after Teach shaved it. The couch Teach stuffed with it is one of the most comfortable things Vox ever sat on, but the traumatized mount that now cowers in the ground makes him wonder if it was worth it.
“Insane, you are all inSAAAAAAAAA. WAAAAAH!” Ragni is just running around, getting chased by all sorts of beasts.
“Go away, woman! Stop clinging to me, I can't swing properly like this.” Rodrick, the large beastman, is covered in blood. His blood-drenched hands hold a dripping axe. The woman hiding behind his broad back is also covered in splatters of red.
“At least help me fight off these beasts!” He kicks a large yellow panda in the crotch. The kick seems rather feeble, and the large beast only grunts in pain for a bit. The axe splitting its skulls a split second later is not something it can shrug off.
“I haven’t got a weapon.” The green skinned woman clinging to his pants wails while looking greener than usual. “And I can't stand the sight of blood.”
“So annoying. Yo, you guys, where can I find some weapons?” Raising his voice to be heard over the noise of fighting, he attracts the attention of the disciples.
“Over there, a large stockpile of weapons and materials is behind our houses.” Vox’s skin glitters as a shallow cut on his back pulls itself together.
“Thanks! Work with me woman.” Dodging a large mandible, Rodrick chops at the large bug’s feet, leaving it immobilized. Half dragging the woman behind him, he starts working his way over to the houses.
Near Tree, a large hedge is being chewed on by a large variety of beasts. “Ares, get down here! You unfilial disciple of mine!” Danarius and Valerius are both huddled together in the middle of the circular hedge.
“Nooooo! Not coming down! I will heal you all, but I’m not coming down. Tree, save meeee!” Ares is clinging to a golden branch, high above the ground. Occasionally, she shoots white beams of healing and replenishing light down towards the ground.
The clearing around Tree is in chaos. The beasts that started raining down from the sky caused a lot of people to panic. A third of them got transported to the moon only seconds later, wounded but saved from certain death by savage beast. Another third managed to put up a fight but got done in by their own inexperience or lack of proper gear. The remaining third is putting up a good fight, either through pure skill, sufficient gathered power or equipment.
The several groups that formed are scattered to the winds now, the previous zealotry transforming into pant-shitting terror or cooperation. Fighting on the moon is a great way to end up powerless, so the ‘saved’ students all just observe the happenings on Tree while chatting.
To the north, a small group has joined Lola in fighting off the beasts. Lola is a red-white streak, leaving cauterised holes through any beast she comes across. Her followers, a few braincores and a few handfuls of heartcores, have developed a distinct fighting style.
The heartcores are, much like Lola, bouncing off trees and rocks, flipping all over the place while kicking their foes. A few women have hair floating behind them that seems alive, using it as whips or garrottes. The braincores are all sporting qi constructs, much like the horn glistening on Lola’s head. Some hold glowing spears, others grasp swords or hammers.
Around the middle lands, near Tree, are the remnants of Bord’s followers. Every single one of the gut- and heartcores are fighting with their fists. The gutcores are munching on odd plants now and then, using them for the buffs and effects to imbue on their qi. The heartcores are just punching things.
Braincores were allowed to join, but all of them left after they understood what type of person Bord was…
Further south is a relatively large group of middle-aged humans and beastkin. These people all saw Re-Haan in one of her decennial appearances and decided that clinging to something so powerful seemed like a good idea. Rhea ignored them all and probably didn’t even realize that they had all gathered for her sake.
Used to the aloof nature of dragons, they more or less started governing themselves before Teach decided to dump his own mistakes on their heads. A random mix of all three core cultivation methods, they constructed a small village. The first thing they did was organise a crafting department, who scoured Tree’s lands for useful items and materials.
They asked Database and got permission to requisition a portion of the Tower loot. This in combination with the qi infused crafting they did mean that they were the most prepared of everyone. A lot of houses got smashed, but the small fort they constructed is being defended with zeal by the relatively large group.
“SECTION TWO BEE PLUS ONE HEART!” A braincore user is shouting orders to the defenders while looking over the battlefield from the small central tower. A heartcore cultivator who was catching a breath walks towards the aforementioned piece of wall, his smile showing growing draconic teeth. Other heartcore users can be seen with scale-covered arms or with claws.
“GUT FIVE AND EIGHTEEN, REFIT!” Two gutcores pull back from the fighting on the wall, their swords and wooden armour broken beyond repair, blood dripping from wounds. They run into the central stone building. Once inside, several people can be seen, all busily sharpening weapons and crafting items with glowing, qi infused hands. They get handed new, obviously improvised items and run outside again. An exhausted woman taps them on the shoulder as they leave, causing them to glow and closing the worst of their wounds.
Another woman is seen running along the wall, throwing small globes of glowing power at tired or injured fighters. A mutant that has teeth growing from every surface manages to scale the wall and jump over the defenders. It slashes at the woman, multiple protruding fangs aiming towards her unprotected flesh. Having very little offensive or defensive power, the female can do nothing but stare in horror. The fighters she buffed only seconds ago cry out in shock, only for a white and golden shield to wrap the woman up and transport her to the moon before the beast pierces her completely.
The last crumbling faction - Ket’s science freaks - were scattered across the entire island. The robed braincores are all running for their lives while documenting as much data as possible. A few gutcores got recruited once Ket left, but their clumsy fighting with clumsy weapons does very little in the face of the mana mutant hordes.
Rodrick manages to get to the piles of gear and materials, only to see a large metal centipede covered in shiny organs guarding it. His blood covered face splits into a grin as he grips his axe tightly. His bones glow faintly as he runs towards the beast, yelling his lungs out.
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