Chapter 244 - Interception (1)

“Why?”

“My apologies, Tooth Bord. We have not been able to make the other parties come to terms with the fact that they need to obey your greatness.”

“I can just do this myself?”

“My apologies, Tooth Bord. Our data-gathering efforts are still ongoing. Our report is still that even though you are mighty, we are unable to combat these foes. Our shame has reached the heavens at this point.”

Bord looks up at the sky, his lips in a pout, and a crease in his brows. He just wants to go and beat stuff up, but everyone seems too busy doing useless things.

“My apologies, Tooth Bord. We have just received news that the armoring operation run by your followers Tess and Ket has run into an unexpected snag.”

“They-”

“My apologies, Tooth Bord. Your followers Tess and Ket just reported that they will need an additional hour to reach the minimum number.”

“They are not my follo-”

“My apologies, Tooth Bord. I have received news that your follower Selis has both sabotaged and aided in the mission. Database has released additional calculating resources, at the cost of diminished physical item production capacity.”

Bord might be dense, but he notices that Fifteen is trying very hard not to giggle. “Shut up.”

“My apologies, Tooth Bord. I will shut up.”

Bord just sighs as he leans back. He is sitting on the very highest top of the mountain range that borders Peak City. Arrayed around him are endless rows of small rockets. Slowly, people are trickling out of a bright portal, a wide variety of cultivators looking upwards.

Bord looks around a bit, glances at the moon high above, and nods to himself. “I’m going.”

“My apologies, Tooth Bord, but I would not…”

“Bye,” he waves. Bord then glows a deep burgundy and makes a grasping motion towards the heavens. Silence slams into the clearing, as every single being, beast, bird, and insect shuts up at once. The grass ripples, the rockets clatter, and the rocky cliffs shake.

Bord then starts floating upwards, gently gliding into the sky. “Bye,” he once again explains to the gaping crowds below, before vanishing into a dark red streak.

Bord has had enough. The moon - Teach called it Nexxy, or something like that - used to scare him. It’s not because of some trauma, or something like that. His parents didn't sell him while the moon was full and out, and he never really had any horror stories told to him about the white celestial body. No, the moon just scared him like Teach scared him. Actually, like Teach still scares him. Like the dragons no longer scare him. Like Selis and Re-Haan still scare him.

But now the moon no longer scares him, so he isn't afraid of it. The small things that are floating up there still kind of scare him. He still feels a bit of fear for the satellites, but in a weird way. Those small things up there feel like small venomous animals to Bord. Letting them do their thing would be bad. But he just needs to take precautions to nullify their threat completely. You just need to make sure you're not bitten by venomous animals, and Bord just needs to make sure that he keeps out of sight of those things up there.

So Bord simply and cleanly pulls those slightly dangerous things towards himself. That way, they can land over the horizon, and they will no longer be in Bord’s line of sight. Why do things in a  complex manner when things can be done simply?

Bord ignores the fact that as he goes into space, those crash-landed satellites will be in his line of sight again. He doesn’t care about the fact that the danger of the moon seems to be focussed somewhere else at the moment. None of its danger is currently aimed at him. Bord just knows that there’s no more danger, and isn’t that all that matters?

Also, Bord doesn’t want to wait anymore. He’s done plenty of waiting, and he sees no reason not to charge headfirst into the one thing Teach ever asked of him.

Bord might not know much, but he does know that without Teach, he’d be in a totally different situation. Probably dead, for one. And just the food alone Teach has given him throughout the two or so years he has known him is more than enough to gain his loyalty, to an extent. When Bord doesn’t want to follow that bearded guy anymore, he’ll simply won’t do it anymore.

Bord serenely displays a rather beautiful smile as he speeds out into space for the first time, pulling a massive chunk of the atmosphere behind him into the stratosphere. He simply doesn’t want to stop breathing, after all; nothing complex about that.

“We can’t beat him up, though.” One of the striped assassins in Bord’s retinue looks at Angeta askance.

“Sure, you can. Just do it under the guise of something beneficial.”

“As what?”

“Training, massage, trying out fighting techniques, stuff like that. There was this one human, who thought he could get all friendly with me. I beat him up under the guise of training something fierce! He never looked at me that way again.” Angeta preens under the attention that the Royal Assassins direct at her.

“We tried that for weeks. Twelve even tried her specialty, the swan dive pierce. Didn’t do anything. That move can break a boulder, and he just laughed it off,” huffs one of the taller beastkin.

“And Six risked life and limb to get access to all the most dangerous poisons in the world! She nearly got killed dozens of times, breaking into those old houses. Tooth Bord just complimented us on the spiciness of that dish. He then burped - which killed all the plants in the room - and went to sleep,” complains another assassin.

“So far, I think Fifteen’s got the best chance. The honey trap thing is working for her. I wonder why it didn’t work for me!” growls another frustrated beastkin.

“And then those long-eared Guards! Never even came to greet him, even after they learned he’s got the scepter. Wait, who is the man you beat into submission?”

Angeta, seemingly very happy that she once again has the attention of the entire group, replies while puffing up her chest. “Oh, that was Vox. He trie-”

“You talking about me again?” replies the dazzling boy who just appeared in a bright flash of light.

“NO! A-haha. No way, Vox. I would never, right? Right, girls?”

“She talked shit, hard.”

“So you are her little bitch human pet?”

“Wow, his hair is nice, but the rest is a bit pale.”

Vox looks between the suddenly uncomfortable Angeta and the group of quietly chattering beastkin women with a blank-faced expression. “Right. So, as I was planning on telling you, Bord’s gone and taken down half of the satellites, and he’s currently soaring towards Nexus. I’m grabbing some stuff before heading off.”

“He did what now?” shouts Angeta right after Vox disappears.

“The Tooth is heading to battle?”

“Protect!”

“Good chance to get a stab in.”

“Save the scepter!”

One by one, the cadre of assassins vanishes in bursts of black elements. Dark flashes of ice, water, fire, light, wind,  and anything in between take away Angeta's audience. She then stands there frozen for a few seconds before she starts legging it. Masses of plants spring up around her as she emits a green glow, flora wrapping around her body in a coiling mass of green. Bounding across the field, she runs away from the forest, long trails of green following her. She leaves half of the plants standing, the rest shrinking and collapsing as they fold around her limbs.

By the time she's reached one of the shining portals set up around the clearing, Angeta is covered in several tonnes of compressed plant matter. She bursts through the portal, her breath catching as the air around her changes from Tree's dense qi to rarified mountain air.

The first thing she sees is rockets. She unfolds massive wings, which immediately start buzzing like mad. She soars upwards, causing a large gust of wind to send up sand and stones as she flies off. Then she sees the rain of meteorites all around her, which halt her in her tracks. The many wings automatically fold into her back as she loses her focus, leaving her a green giantess softly tumbling through the air.

All around her are bright lances of fire, leaving thick trails of smoke as they move towards the ground. Then the ground far below her explodes, and a mass of rockets starts flying past her slowly falling form. The small projectiles scream through the air around her in a constant stream.

She tries to calm her furiously beating heart, swearing to herself that she’s going to beat the shit out of Bord later for screwing up the united front they could have advanced in. She the unfurls the leaves that act like her wings again, and continues ascending.

The first comets land then, illuminating her in bright flashes of brilliance. Looking upwards, she sees Bord floating around, making lazy circles in the sky. “HEY, FATTY!” she roars, using a hastily constructed amplifying funnel to project her voice.

She sees Bord turn towards her, point towards the side, and then wave. Angeta tries to unravel the meaning behind his gesture for a bit, before concluding that he is probably just being a dumbass once again. Bord’s pointing starts becoming more and more frantic as Angeta flies higher, her augmented eyes barely even able to spot his moving silhouette from this great distance.

Then the rockets start exploding. Completely taken aback by the massive wall of burning rocket fuel and metal shrapnel that just sprung up in front of her, Angeta reacts too late. She enters the sheet of expanding fire without much ado, merely creating a small hole in the fiercely burning wall of flames that quickly closes.

Inside the fire, Angeta isn’t really worried. A massive burning ocean might have been a source of dread at some point, but it doesn’t really compare to the masses of bugs she is so well acquainted with now.

Then the air is slammed from her lungs, and she is shot back down to earth.

It takes her a few seconds to realize what happened. There is a massive hole in her armor. Something has blown its way through the many layers of plant, tree, and fungus, nearly reaching her stomach. A rather heavy item is lodged right against her skin, a sharp edge poking into her belly button.

Flipping through the air, she manages to gather enough clarity to poke at the hole before closing the tear. She nearly screams out loud as she brushes her stomach with a clumsy foliage-wrapped hand. Her entire stomach hurts like it just got kicked by a beastkin from the Royal Guard caste. The heft of the thing she pulls from her stomach armor is weird enough to shake the last cobwebs of shock from her mind.

The small cylinder she holds is much more substantial than it should be. It's made from a grey and white material, and looks like a stone pencil.

Angeta snaps her neck upwards and sees Bord frantically moving in random patterns again. He’s still got his eyes locked on her, and is still spastically waving his hands around. He is motioning towards her left as if his own life depends on it, so Angeta uses her barely functioning wings to shift that way.

The air is shattered in a straight line just beside her, the fractures and deafening thunderclap barely missing her. Her ears immediately clog up, and she feels warm trickles making their way down her fur. A quick channel of qi going towards them stops the pain, as well as the disorientation threatening to topple her.

She also looks at Bord, trying to find his large shape as quickly as possible. He’s pointing towards his back this time, ahead of herself. She snaps her wings into shape, righting the many snapped branches and holding the large tears in the leaves closed through sheer willpower as she zooms forwards.

The air behind her shatters into pieces for a brief moment, a deafening front of sound buffering her behind. Bord points to the right, so she dodges right, only for the deafening chaos of exploding rockets to be punctuated by yet another sky shattering streak.

Slowly but surely, she makes her way up and over to where Bord is lazily dodging his own share of superheavy projectiles.

“Hey, Angeta. This is super stupid.”

“What?” Angeta barely manages to squeeze out a single word. All her attention is taken up by following Bord’s nonchalant directions. She catches glimpses of an impossibly blue arc over the horizon now and then. The sky is replaced with a purple so dark; it’s nearly black. The planet stretches out below her, but she can’t really afford to pay it any attention at the moment.

“I can’t go further.”

“Why?”

“This is my limit. The rockets helped me get a bit higher, but that’s all.”

“So?”

“Now I just got to wait. This is still stupid, though. I just wanna get at that,” Bord replies while tumbling through the air upside down. “It’s just a bit tricky to get there like this. I can’t reach those.”

“Where?”

“Just over there. A few come close quickly, so I can get at them. Those, though,” points Bord with a large amount of pettiness and anger in his voice, “those I can’t get to.”

“Show me,” Angeta blurts out. She briefly wonders why she can breathe, even though she theoretically knows she is currently above the altitude where air should be breathable.

“There!” shouts Bord, now sounding truly angry. “Just over there! I want them, but I can’t get to them, and I don’t LIKE THAT!” Bord turns around, a glint in his eyes that Angeta doesn't like in the slightest.

“No!” she manages to say before she feels his fat hand grab her by the scruff of her neck. “NO, DON’T YOU DAR-”

And off she goes. Bord’s entire frame explodes in a deep red light as he tosses Angeta outwards with all his might.

Angeta, in turn, barely manages to breathe in deeply before she is flung away. Then the silence hits, and the beastkin knows peace for a moment. She is rapidly spinning through nothingness, a massive bruise is developing on her stomach, and she is starting to feel nauseous, but it sure is silent. She opens her mouth as the planet spins by, but quickly closes it after she feels the air getting ripped from her lungs.

She then catches a glimpse of something alien. A collection of shapes that does not agree with her eyes comes closer quickly. And then, as if her trajectory was calculated perfectly, she smacks into it face-first. The entire thing shudders and bucks sharply, but she manages to hold on.

She then receives a mental nudge. Holding her breath, and wondering why her eyes are starting to ache something fierce, she opens the thought that’s being sent her way. She recognizes the source as something Tree related. The fact that her ring is glowing is also a good hint.

“Climb around it to the left, twice.

“The fu-” she instinctively replies.

“Climb left, go around twice,” comes the persistent thought of Bord.

Angeta blinks her eyes furiously before stripping all the green bits from a leaf, turning it into clear glasses. Sealing it in front of her eyeslits in her plant exoskeleton, she finally manages to clear her vision. Turning around, she is nearly thrown off the thing when it bucks again. Twisting her neck, she looks towards Bord, who is furiously spinning one arm in a circle.

Looking back at the impossible and mind-bending curves and edges of the thing she is holding on to, Angeta decides to just go with it. If that fatso wants her to climb around this thing, then by the Dungeons below and the Flight above, she will do so.

Nimble and lithe, she scampers around the item twice. The moment she is done, it shudders again, and she catches a flash of something flying away at extreme speeds.

She finally realizes that the object she is clinging to in the void of space is one of the satellites that keeps shooting stones. Looking at it closer, she sees its base form is simple.

Two tapered beams jut from a complex network of suspended parts that form a rough sphere. Angeta then realizes that her eyes don’t really hurt from looking at the physical items. It’s the space inside the satellite that makes her eyes have an existential crisis. Small identical chunks of rock are there, and not there, at the same time. Arrays of stone cylinders are being carved from these rocks, these cylinders then float and merge into each other in impossible manners. It’s like she sees many things overlapped at the same time.

Tearing her eyes away from the maddening kaleidoscope, she looks at the direction where the two prongs are pointing. She sees a small glint hanging in the void of space, and suddenly she knows why Bord had her clamber over the thing. Adjusting her position a bit, Angeta ignores the fact that she is currently hanging thousands of kilometers above land, in the void of space, and starts sniping other satellites.

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