Chapter 196 - Resumption (4)
“Drew, are you going to help anytime soon?” Vibrating the air around the minuscule man, Re-Haan is sure to convey her displeasure. Deep down, she knows that would he have cause, that insignificant little human could scour the entire planet into a dead piece of slag tumbling through space. On the one claw, this certainty does indeed does all kind of funny things to her dragon bits. On the other claw, the fact that he is staring at random junk while an epic fight is happening and all kinds of power gains could be had is doing a great job of cooling her womanly wiles.
Shaking these distinctly human-like thoughts from her scaled head, Re-Haan Ra-Lush-Neer Hu-Ungu Le-Fetsun - she omits some of her own titles and names as she doesn’t think they apply right this moment - breathes in deeply. Shifting her purple gaze a few degrees to the left, she breathes out with thundering force. A deceptively narrow beam of energy leaves her fanged maw, shooting straight towards one of the bigger chunks of moving ice.
The dumpy crab-like being loses half of its limbs, hundred meter long legs crumbling into large plates of ice and loose snow as the purple beam bites deeper. Narrowing her large eyes in irritation at her lack of skills, Re-Haan closes her mouth and starts another short-range attack run.
Having transformed into her dragon form allows her to fold her majestic wings behind her back while she dives. Zooming past the few remaining clouds, the purple tinted white dragon opens her wings with a snap a mere hundred meters from the ground. This move used to be impossible, as the sheer wind resistance would have torn the limbs from her back had she tried it. The network of qi now flowing through her body, starting at her heart and running through each limb in a network similar to roots, allows her to be quite a bit rougher with her own physical form.
Grinning madly - because it truly has been too long since she got to go all out in her scaled form - she shoots off another beam of pure aerokinetic force before slamming into the golem she took aim at earlier. Parts of polar mutant and ice golem exploding upwards behind her, as she goes to town. Taking large chunks out of the qi drenched mass of animated ice, Rhea tunnels through the thing, moving towards its centre like a toothed and clawed buzz saw.
Encased in the hardest ice she has yet come across, she finds the controller of the multiple kilometre high golem. She briefly realises that judging from the amount of fear, confusion, and panic wafting from the encased marine crustacean, it might not really be in control. Then her jaws snap shut around the relatively microscopic creature, ending its life between immensely powerful teeth.
Snapping limb and wing outwards, the ice around her shatters into pieces. A single flap later, and she is shooting upwards again, swallowing the qi dense frozen morsel with relish. The freezing power slowly disseminates into her cultivation base, her rapid circulation system covering it in her own fingerprints at a steady pace. Belching a rather unladylike cloud of supercooled air, Re-Haan takes in the environment.
Ice stretches towards the horizon. Now once again hundreds of meters up in the air, she fails to see anything else but endless blue and white, only interrupted by the occasional living being or qi creature. And a lot of trash. Let’s not forget the massive amount of random beams, mechanical structures, large swathes of seemingly indestructible plastic, and general rubbish that’s littering the white fields.
Craning her neck to look behind herself, she sees another piece of extraterrestrial rubbish come down in a screaming and smoking pillar of fire. Drew has been going nuts over this phenomenon, but Rhea hasn’t figured out why as of yet. There might be something to the fact that none of the items below show any signs of the fact that they have descended into the atmosphere in a blaze of plasma. Not a single mark of damage except for the occasional streak of carbon or soot marks the junk as meteorites.
Also, none of these indestructible pieces of litter have been incorporated into the wild qi creatures. There’s plenty of small plates, fluted strips, and complex forms of the correct size lying around, but not a single of the qi creatures has seen fit to use these pieces. Ignoring her own rising curiosity - as that would be the same as condoning Drew’s current behaviour - she wonders why her snout is feeling warm all of a sudden.
Banking hard to make another attack run, Re-Haan moves a single eye from the ground and points it at her own snout. Two white ears flap furiously in the wind. A small rabbit, a horn glowing a cold blue that would freeze the hottest of hearts, is seated upon Re-Haan’s face. Casting her senses backwards, she no longer feels any of the abundant frost qi, only the fleeting remnants of her own wind imprinted power.
“Lola, did you steal the qi from my kill?” The force emanating from the low rumble Re-Haan talks with is enough to send shockwaves through the rather guilty looking rabbit’s fur. Instead of owning up to her thievery, Lola squeaks once, licks one of Re-Haan’s scales and jumps off. Re-Haan is not having it and follows the fluffy hussy with fervently flapping wings.
The following pursuit claims more victims in five minutes than the previous half hour of carefully performed probing attack runs. The largest threats are taken down quickly, and two foundation level fighters consuming large amounts of qi while actively cultivating causes the ambient qi levels to drop quickly.
An hour after the fight truly started, Re-Haan and Lola stand on the ground, panting but victorious. They are covered in all kinds of frost, and their steady intake of qi has caused a slight vortex of rushing power to form around the unlikely duo. “Good job, you spoiled fluffball.”
Lola nuzzles Rhea’s massive head once before hopping off, undoubtedly looking for the softest spot of snow to sleep. Re-Haan wants to follow her, skipping the boring cultivation she’ll need to do after absorbing all that power but decides to go check up on Drew instead. About to fly upwards again, she stops. A bright flash of light later, she is back in human form and wants to slap herself.
Drew’s warnings that all the cultivators should be careful with their spiritual senses have turned out to be extremely good advice. Looking around at the lethal chaos that ensued from a relatively small amount of spilt qi in a place where it could do a lot of damage, she agrees with the rule wholeheartedly. Now that the cat is out of the bag, though, there is no need to limit ones sensing through qi. Instead, it should be encouraged, as Drew eluded that imposing order upon ambient qi through maintaining a sensor network will largely prevent these kinds of ambient qi monsters in the first place.
Breathing out a large wave of purple power, Re-Haan starts actively sensing the surrounding couple kilometres around herself. The wave of neutral power that comes from Drew’s direction tells her that he also forgot to set up his qi senses. Lola tries it too, but the fact that her qi just fades away uncontrolled after a while lets Re-Haan know that the bunny has lost interest rather quickly.
From the amount of noise coming from her direction, let alone the amount of gratuitous violence the humanoid dragon senses, the rabbit is having too much fun to bother with keeping up a long-range sensory net. Clicking her tongue in annoyance, Re-Haan starts walking towards Drew. Anytime one of the stragglers comes near her, she experiments a bit with wind-based attacks. She also tests the small kernel of liquid Will hanging in her braincore, evaporating the ghastly manifestation of her willpower and using it in its gaseous base form to enhance her slicing winds.
She only stops when one of the lumbering ice beings turns into a red mist instead of a white cloud. Waving his hands, Drew emerges from the red fog as he covers his face. “Careful, will you? Blood is a bitch to get out of this fabric.”
She doesn’t even acknowledge that comment. “What has you too occupied to join in?”
“You two got it well in hand. Even Lola alone would be able to clean this up to acceptable levels, it would just take ages.” Walking over to what looks likes a clumped ball of wires, the bearded man starts poking and prodding the partially buried item. “Here, look at this. Use a strand a couple of picometres, or millimetres if you can’t handle that yet, to scan this item.”
Glaring at his painfully accurate assessment of her liquid Will control skills, she does as he tells her. The change in denseness is immediately apparent to the woman, and the sheer amount of molecules present in each square nanometre of clumped wire prevents her from delving into the material far. The difference between the density of the air around her and the dark grey wires is like comparing a single grain of sand on an empty floor with a beach.
“Now check this one.” Holding out a small shard of nondescript metal, she scans it. A slightly denser material forces her to stop even quicker. Drew is already holding up a rather large and slightly crooked I-beam, but Re-Haan can see where this is going.
“All of this stuff is made with differing densities. Have you found something double the norm yet? Or something similarly low?”
A truly happy smile graces his bearded face. “I love smart women. And no, this is the least dense item I’ve found so far. It’s pretty vexing. I’ve come across stuff that should weigh literal gigatonnes, but it’s just lying here on top of the ice flats.”
“That’s the least dense one?” Pointing at the clump of unmovable wires, Re-Haan examines it closer. Punching a single wire with full force doesn’t even make it twitch. Re-Haan then uses a fine web of her will to create a high-pressure wind cutter that would ordinarily shatter hardened steel into powder. Inspecting the impact site closely, she doesn’t see a single scratch. “What is this stuff anyway?”
“The most likely scenario I can come up with is that some rich person from a higher realm came down to play around. This way of manufacturing materials is frankly absurd. The amount of energy spent to lock matter into such a dense grid is off the charts, something literally not of this universe.”
“And why is this all here?”
“Dumping ground, I think. It’s just a trash heap. I reckon someone is trying to prevent this stuff from floating off into interstellar space. It’s pretty weird to see them spend enough power to fuel stars for several years willy-nilly, but still employ such a low-spec cleaning solution.”
“The creator of the Flight is… I’m going to stop listening to your speculations now. Hearing that the person that formed the building blocks of my world and my being is doing stuff half hearted and is just messing around is not good for my mental health.”
“Okay! I’ll be here, training my augur. This is just what I need. Now I need to train my augur sensitivity with successively denser super materials like these. Yes, yes. I’ll show that fucking moon. Nexus, you better prepare your butt-hole, because I’m coming for that boo-”
Walking away from the ever more deranged and insane ramblings coming from her lover, Re-Haan once again firmly decides not to think about the madness-inducing things he keeps uncovering. The rock buried deep beneath Flight Mountain comes to mind again.
The simple tableau of a figure seeding the planet with life, before leading its chosen race - the Flight, obviously - into the stars seems all kinds of menacing now. No longer does she see the divine plan it once was. No longer does a faint tug of longing move her heart. She no longer secretly hopes that it will come to pass soon, just to escape from her ever sleeping family.
Slowly breaking out into a run, Re-Haan shakes the irritating thoughts free from her mind. She fails to free herself from the intrusive ideas put inside her thoughts by Drew until she creates a low priority process that researches the problem in the background.
Happy that the problem is being worked on, she starts running, increasing the length of her strides slowly yet surely. Bounding across the ravaged icy battlefield, she slowly transforms herself back into her dragon form. Shining brightly for a few seconds, she emerges from the blinding flare a majestically roaring dragon.
Then, against all the odds, she continues tearing into the still generating qi monsters with wild abandon without crashing and burning. For once, she isn’t beaten up by Lola, and she doesn’t even fail in a spectacular fashion somehow. While Drew is doddering about, mumbling to himself about the relative densities of alien alloys, Re-Haan and Lola cause massive amounts of damage.
The white dragon strafes the smaller golems and mutant from afar, swivelling her head back and forth as she cuts meter-deep grooves through ground and beast. Spotting one of the bigger qi-infected mana mutants, she dive-bombs them, bombarding them with devastating bursts of her superpowered wind beam. If her targets manage to live through the assault, the frenzy of teeth and claws descends and ends them personally. This is then followed by a short period of deep draconic breathing, after which the qi levels drop drastically while Re-Haan’s white scales gain a slightly deeper purple hue.
Lola isn’t as adept in causing mass destruction as the soaring reptile, but her time to kill when it comes to the more powerful beings is a lot better. Instead of having to ablate half of the ice golem, the small rabbit pierces through the thick ice. Once at the core, she either kicks the shit out of it using her absurd physical strength or just releases a large burst of fire at the creature, colony of bacteria, or overgrown fungi.
The ice monsters all fall apart after the source of their central concept is gone, allowing the gluttonous rabbit to take in more and more of the frosty power saturating the thick ice. The unlikely duo continues like this for hours, destroying anything that looks to be going out of control.
Although a lot of the new creatures evolving on the qi enriched pole are mercilessly slaughtered, a lot of natural adaptations happen too. Hundreds of animals similar to arctic foxes escape the rampaging duo, their natural disposition to sneaking and slinking around preventing them from explosively accepting the foreign power. Vast numbers of submerged plankton-like beings adapt in productive ways. Instead of cutting their own reproductive power short in exchange for a single super-boosted aspect of their being, these plants and animals start their own form of Dao cultivation.
A horde of migratory grazers follows their leader’s example, forming natural heart cores due to the fact that they had been close to humans when the qi hit. The planet, which normally would devolve in a massively chaotic battle of the most brutish beings and constructs upon being contaminated with qi, adapts in many ways that are not exclusively strength based. Instead of the biggest and greediest being smashing all living creatures with proper growth potential, the truly strong allow the weak to grow.
“Rhea, check Database.” A mental message plasters itself across her mind’s eye. Stumbling in her attack run, Re-Haan rolls over her intended target and nearly breaks a wing. “WHAT?”
“Tree. Your kin have done some stupid stuff.”
Quickly switching to her human form - her draconic arrogance is too prevalent in her lizard form to even bother talking to a tree - she checks the information storage planet. “Why did those idiots assault the north pole?”
“Beats me, but they are getting crushed.”
“Okay. Time to impose some order.”
“Have fun. I’m not coming. This is more im-”
“Spare me your clinical analysis please.”
“Right, right,” is Drew’s mollified answer.
Rhea prepares herself some more, going through all information available.
“Call me Re-Haan.”
“Go kick some ass.”
“Can do,” is her reply, the savage grin sporting her face audible in the message she returns.
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