Chapter 216 - Impressing (2)

“Okay, so how much does age factor in exactly? They all kept telling me to go away and play with rocks. I even beat one up, but I had to wail on that sucker for hours before he yielded. And instead of deference, there was resentment, like he was tricked.”

Flicking her hair over her shoulders, Rhea peers at me through her long lashes. “Who?”

“The one that ate Angeta’s tail. He’s a heartcore in both forms. He could take it.”

“Okay. He’s an idiot anyway. And age is half the equation. No, wait. That’s for me personally. Now that I think about it, the older a dragon gets, the more they seem to revere their elders.”

“And there you see the crux of my problem. I might be stronger than them, but from their perspective, it was like a baby was ordering them, the adults, around. I’d also have trouble respecting a baby, no matter if it could beat me up. I'd probably just want to know how that baby cheated in order to get so powerful.” Chewing on my pen, I look at the piece of paper that we are working on.

Rhea agreeably hums in that way that signals she has only been listening with half an ear. She pauses going over our notes long enough to point at one of the tightly written blocks of text in our prototype. “I love that clause. There are so many negatives that cancel each other out in that one sentence. It flips the entire meaning on its head.”

“Yeah, I had to do some actual math in order to get that one right. The enforcement part is merely a single line of runes, though. Are you sure that this is enough of an incentive?”

“Oh yeah. I think a lot of dragons would have killed themselves ages ago if there was even a slight inclination of depression in us. Living your life after you healed me really opened my eyes to a lot of things.”

I sharply turn towards her. “Live my life? You told me that you only heard my voice, though?” A slow seep of horror crawls into my guts. If she actually shared some of the experiences and memories through that retelling…

“Aha,” is her obviously fake laugh. “Only flashes now and then.”

“Dragons truly are shit liars,” I snap at her. “Then why aren’t you matriarch-ing it up?“

“That was serious?”

I try to impose my will on her through my eyes as I put the page of writing to the side for now. “Yes. Like any superpowered man, I am destined to gather a harem of woman. The first women I conquered then must inexplicably and suddenly start to want to bring more women in my life. I will protest at first, of course, but slowly yet surely, your logic will wear me down. I'll need to grow my power through some weird network that I have with my ladies, or I'll need loyal bodyguards, or somehow women just keep falling deeply in love with me, and I with them. I have seen this happen many times in stories and tales.”

“You want me to bring additional girls to our bed? Who would we even start with? Angeta?”

“No thank you. Maybe that black dragoness? Selis is way too young, but I like her sty-” I intercept her spinning kick before it reaches my face. I grin at her. “Maybe a bunny or tiger? Or just some nice girl with coloured skin. And there isn’t a better way to create alliances than to whore your princesses and daughters out to influential figures, you know. Some cold ethereal beauty or heaven-shattering goddess with alabaster skin and snowy peaks would be nice.”

Rhea still fights with that weird quality. Her perfectly managed moves catch me off guard just enough to make them hit. I thus cheat, solidifying the air enough to make her miss me with millimetres to spare. Seeing an opening, I grab her by her wrist and twist her arm towards her back. She jabs at me, but I use the momentum of her sudden attack to spin us around, letting myself fall to the ground, pulling her top of me. “So yeah, according to the stories, you should become the matriarch of my many conquests.”

“What little first-hand experience in wooing the other sex I have tells me that I should allow you to try, just to watch you crash and burn.”

“Oof. That one actually hurts. I try, you know.”

“So, shall we get busy, or shall we get busy?”

“Let's get to work, my matri-” My words halted by her mouth, I forget about the immensely evil contract we had been working on moments before.

I break the calm that follows that storm by speaking. “Is this really what you want?” Thinking over my word choices, I continue with “Is this what you think is best?”

“Nope.” She smiles at me, our talk of harems and multiple partner logistics forgotten. “But it’s what's needed right now. In order for the Flight to continue, we need to become strong enough to resist whatever is coming. It wasn’t a simple foundation level cultivator that made this planet and my race, that much I do know for sure. And if they are unwilling, which I have to admit they are, we have two choices. Either I resume my role as their controller, growing strong through them, letting them gather all the qi in the environment, channelling it towards myself as I try to help them along. Or we do it this way.”

“Yeah, I don’t see a better way either. This sucks. We are going to generate so much hate.”

“We could go for the entire dungeon training thing?”

I resolutely shake my head. “Dungeons are stupid. Assuming that you can create competent soldiers and fighters by tossing people into danger is as short sighted as it is wasteful. It’ll create a group of many fighters that can’t coordinate their combined asses when the fighting force grows beyond a small group. And actual fighting is just a minuscule portion of an army’s purpose, anyway.”

Rhea stands up, stretching her back. I ogle her proudly displayed chest while trying to focus on what she is saying. “So you think that throwing them into the jungle unprepared and naked is a better method of creating a fighting force.”

“Different paradigm and purpose.” I wave away her complaint while looking around for my clothes. “The dungeons are, by design, not meant to break people down. We will need to deconstruct those ancient bastards on a psychological level before we can teach them anything. Dungeons are just production plants. They are not strictly controlled training facilities.”

Rhea eyes the white moon up above with a skewed glance as she hops into her pants. “Database will be able to handle that load?”

“Easily. There is little to no mana here. I’ll just put them through the same process as I did with all my new students. Except for the original ones, of course, but I was still figuring stuff out back then.”

“Alright. I will help.”

“How?”

“By being inside of you for a change.”

I try to play it cool while surreptitiously protecting my bum with my hands. “And how, exactly, will you be inside of me?”

Rhea just grins at me. “Telling would just spoil the fun, no? Let's finish this beast first. We will need to perfect the recruitment process too."

I continue writing while bringing up a potential snag in the plan. "Got any ideas on how we can trick them into humanoid form?”

“Easy. We give them no other choice.”

“How?”

“Take away all other options. How efficient would it be to create those ice golems on purpose, but then from rock?”

“You’d destroy Flight Mountain? Aren’t there a lot more old dragons sleeping over there?”

“Well… Yes, but they should stay asleep, right?”

“Yeah, we are not doing that. The number of risk factors and assumed percentages is way too high. Let’s use something that has proven to work in the past, however.”

“What?”

“How did you get those old ancestors to come to you?”

“I… I wasn’t really that conscious most of the time I was stuck inside that mad tree, you know.”

“Hmmh, I’m still sorry about that. I really thought you just stayed inside there of your own accord. Anyway, look at this.” Calling up a particular set of images caught by my drones, I show her how the massive, multi-kilometre long beings migrated to the north pole. “You lured them here. Another genetic marker, this one. It activates these and these genomes, which have linked this part of you draconic brain with that part. These lobes then set that process in motion. You with me so far?”

“Yes.”

“Dragons are shit liers. Why did I not notice this before? Anyway, in layman’s terms, this frequency causes your dragon shape to become addicted to the source, as the levels of your version of dopamine rises the closer you are. I can only get them to a certain place by mimicking the signal your cultivation base broadcast back then. You will need to take it from there.”

Rhea nods thoughtfully. “That, I can do. Just increase your booze production, okay?”

I feel some pain in my heart at losing the majority of my homemade grog. The things we do for love… I immediately order the empty mass production lines under my castle to start producing more fermentation vessels, while commanding a deactivated swarm of drones to start sowing more Heavenly Grains and sugar-containing plants.

“Why the rockets, though?”

“The what now?”

“I understand that you are trying to test the satellite protection system, but why are you overdoing it so much with all the rockets you are launching.”

Pulling one of the projectiles from my ring, I start spinning it through my fingers. “I want to know what type of atom is at the centre of the square processors inside dungeon cores.”

Rhea looks at her fingers. “Ah, yeah. Nearly forgot about that.”

“But they are stacked too tightly. I can find out what normal items and matter are made of by observing the nuclei radius. But when the matt-”

“Radius?”

I nod to myself. So there is some truth in how learning from Database is largely dependant on the individual. I know for a fact that Rhea has accessed the data on atomic physics multiple times, but some information or lessons just don't seem to stick with certain persons. “Imagine that I can find out what a ball is made of by seeing how far it is from other balls. I can sense atomic nuclei using my augur, or my liquid Will, but I can’t sense how big they are or what they are made of. I can just sense their positions. So when they are stacked so incredibly tight, I can’t figure out how to tell them apart. I want to find a nice and smooth gradient of densities, so I can work my way up from normal matter to the matter that is a couple of hundred times denser than it ought to be.”

“And those projectiles are helping how exactly?”

“I think that the projectile production facility up there needs time to compact this ammo. So it can shoot a few high-density projectiles or lots of low-density ones. I’m just forcing it to produce that gradient for me.”

“And you can’t train Will in other ways?”

“Not that I have found. Training Will wasn't something that was ever practised in the Cultivation World. You either had access to Will, or you didn’t. As simple as that.” I rub my forehead a bit. I keep thinking I know a lot, but when it comes down to it, it’s just a lot of book knowledge. Very little in those massive libraries I broke into, and all of those mystical tomes I stole seems to apply to the realities of everyday life as a cultivator. “I tried some stuff, but augur is just so different from qi, none of the qi control exercises I ever came up with has any effect on the stuff. Also, is it weird that I want to keep calling it augur, even though it’s pretty obvious it’s just liquid Will?”

“I don’t care. Can you lure them over to this location?” I sense Rhea spin threads of qi finer than a hair into a miniature model, weaving a representation of a particular spot on the north pole. The ice plains are nothing new, and neither are the occasional bit of super weird trash sticking up through the snow. The odd thing is the large rock piercing through the ice, a few dozen metres of black cliffs, obviously severely damaged and partially shattered.

“Where’s this?”

“At the edge of the impact strike zone. The rubble under the dirt indicated that there used to be a much larger mountain there, it all got shorn away by space debris, I think.”

“One cold resistant dragon attraction formation coming up! The effect will fade once they shift to their human form, though.”

“Yes.”

“And dragons will need literal seas of alcohol even to become tipsy.”

“Are you going somewhere with this?”

“And dragons can’t really sign fragile things like papers, right?”

“That’s also an interesting observation.”

I throw my hands up in the air. I’ve come up with over half a million possible scenarios so far, but it seems she isn’t willing to spill the beans in advance. “Alright, keep your secrets woman. Do know that I’m keeping the best batches for myself.” Rhea’s grin doesn’t fade as we continue working on the contract, only growing wider as we add clause after clause of obtuse yet completely logical and sound language.

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