Soul Of Searing Steel Chapter 909
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
With the Void being greater and vaster than the Universe, the war within was therefore of a larger scale as well.
In year 109 of the Third Epoch—the beginning of the Year of Revival, our homeworld had followed Father Sky’s trail into a winter period beyond our star’s orbit. Just as it had been centuries ago, our navy left the small planetary system to wander about the Void.
Father Sky was the gas giant our homeworld orbited around. It was the day which shone upon the moss plains of our homeland, its pale blue silhouette occupying all upon the skies—hence the revered name. Two planets viable for living, which we affectionately referred to as Mother and Brother, encircled Father Sky as well.
In the past millenia, when civilization was still young, tales revolving around those planets were often told. The cradle of our homeworld whirled in peace and safety alongside Father, Mother, and a satellite called Sister, our race growing discreetly within.
As stories often told, history shifted emotionally, just as time vanished in the blink of an eye. Our civilization developed and strengthened, our visions expanding as we launched flying ships towards the stars in exploration of planetary horizons. We discovered the borders of worlds and entered the Void—the stage of ten thousand worlds, as we waged civil wars over the millennia we exited. Ultimately, we remained one race and one body, with all conflict diminishing with time as we advanced hand-in-hand.
We once thought it to be a new beginning of our civilization, with the vastness of stars and future in the Void awaiting us.
But reality declared it to be our limit.
The galaxy was not empty, but in fact filled with various civilizations—there were many more intelligent species than we had imagined exist because of supernatural powers and souls, with each flickering star being a flourishing living world. In those worlds were mysterious races that have yet to step out in the Void or beings like us that were merely tipping our toes into the Void, just as Void civilizations much superior to us certainly existed.
And ever malicious.
They had arrived from nearby planets. Their warships were larger, more advanced and had weathered even more baptisms of fire. They attacked us when they found us, their violent cannon fire and special forces of Extraordinary individuals able of transcending the Void dealing great losses upon us as we retreated upon every turn, finally urged back into our homeworld. We were enraged, but our navy was already scrap matter, with Sister shattered by the terrible firepower from the main battery of their warships. Her scattered remains wafting unto orbits to form planetary rings, and we could only surrender and lower our heads in subservience.
They were the Krexians who had conquered more than forty worlds and ruled over five great vassal empires. Our nation acknowledged them as sovereign, offering them a quarter of our production while our scientists and Extraordinary individuals were used as they wished. Though our navy was not dismantled, we were to obey their commands and participate in dangerous battles.
We were barred from colonizing, expansion and exploration, just as any research they did not like were banned. They destroyed our culture, bent on turning our citizens into a race of miners dedicated to themselves. Yet, various reasons prevented that final step from come true.
It was our fortune as much as it was a tragedy—after all, was placing fate in the hands of fortune not the greatest pain and sorrow intelligent life could ever endure?
When our navy was prepared to disembark on official capacity to survey the Void around us for precious resources, their orders arrived: they had detected a great shift in a nearby galaxy and a war about to begin. They were claiming that even the greatest civilizations were prepared to advance and study the situation. With conflict possibly erupting between those existences potentially turning into chaotic war, it was a situation they could conceivably benefit from.
Naturally, we would be the ones to face danger while they reaped all the benefits—such was the fate of vassals and the defeated. Despite that, retrieving warship wrecks of advanced civilizations could have discreetly improved our technology and the power of our nation… a rare chance.
We were left with no choice.
The vast fleet advanced through the Void with us at the fore. The Krexian supernatural champions donned their war armor as they moved alongside warships and shone in dazzling magical radiance—it was a light we possessed as well, but our powerful Extraordinary champions would only ever be taken away by them through force and never returned to our fold. Our legacies have been stricken with no sign of resurgence up to this moment.
Jaded, we streaked forward through the Void, arriving upon the emptiness between galaxies. Here, the dimensions calmed, but it was also where we felt regret and terror—the once unoccupied zone had now been taken by scout ships and fleet of countless other civilizations, with a single fleet so massive that it warped the very stars moving ahead.
Those were the Knowers—one of the most powerful civilizations in the Multiverse, silently wandering amongst the stars as they plundered any knowledge from encounters of civilizations interesting to them. We should indeed rejoice in our weakness and ignorance—that had been the reason we have not been attacked, for the Knowers would never waste their strength on civilizations they determined to be of no value.
“We should retreat.”
Soon, we detected another new energy signature. It was a presence that emanated fear even across stars, and it was beyond doubt that the approaching existence was immeasurably powerful. There were two specters of horror that promptly lit up on the other side of the galaxy as well, and the Knowers stood off in a three-sided confrontation against them. Being civilizations on the apex of power, they stood off against each other in the Void with the galaxy between them, making it absolute that this place was no longer a place for weak being like us to even observe.
But the Krexians’ commands remained ever ruthless. We understand their intentions well: lead by profit, they were convinced of the three being in conflict due to the uncovering of some secret treasure or vital prehistoric ruin by the civilization that had established a defensive perimeter. They would then learn of what great riches or relics existed, and attempt to secure profit.
The Krexians’ greed was neither puzzling nor insane, for there had been numerous civilizations rapidly strengthening through discovery of treasures or ancient remains. We were ourselves slightly in awe of their legends and exploits, which in turn deemed the fervour of the Krexians, who were much more learned, to be perfectly reasonable.
It had been indeed us, and not them at risk. As such, they were naturally willing when it came to generosity of others.
We were thus forced to advance alongside the other vassals. We had not actually launched a frontal charge, but circled around instead as the areas where galaxies connected were not enormous. One could easily reach their destination without necessarily having moved along the shortest and most convenient path.
But it was at that moment that the war began. We had no words to describe the flame. The fleet that had established perimeter from the galaxy beyond was the first to attack. Despite lacking in numbers, eight world-sized Void Behemoths acted as their ramparts, the barriers of the worlds over their backs slowly parting to reveal the fearsome organic fortresses behind. Then, countless small herbal form ships launched from within in a dense formation, akin to a swarm of wasps.
And then came the slaughter.
Most fleets like us that had been spying, scouting, or trying to bypass them were instantly wiped out. It was no mere explosion, and we spotted an armored ship struck by distorted space in a distance, instantly flattened into a flatness like a portrait and reduced to miniscule dust as the Void corrected itself. We could see half of the Lankmoj’s armada decimated by an assault so rapid that machine observation was impossible with destructive elements turned them into bright smoke in the Void, just as we saw shadows extending across the vacancy, with each warship that could not evade in time firing their main batteries once or twice before futilely sinking in that darkness, consumed by the formless.
Photons of energy as blinding as the sun arose from the flagships of that fleet assuming a ring formation, tearing the dimensions apart as if to summon some great machine. We could faintly catch a glimpse of ferocious but beautiful scales and claws behind the dimensional rift, a threatening presence flowing away from within.
Still, the Knowers’ fleet was sturdy and strong, and had combined their shields to block every blow. They countered the offensive as well, and we could only evade in panic, turning to flee and for once, disobey an order from the angered Krexians, as photons streaking at sub-lightspeed and bolts tearing the dimensions apart filled half the Void.
A myriad of spectators turned and fled alongside us, escaping haggardly, their banners withdrawn as their arranged formation left filled with holes. It was as if they were directly facing a nightmare, unable to understand the attacks surpassing imagination, their wrecks being a misfortune and not a blessing.
We watched as warships we considered great were reduced to dust. All lights went out from the Takurians’ flagship, their massive circular warships now resembling a donut with a chunk bitten off, breaking into pieces amidst the Void. Another Void armada that had battled for dominance with the Krexians screamed as they fled, leaving wrecks that were in pieces. We were even able to gather their panicked extradimensional transmissions that were simply filled with terrified wails.
Whatever treasure or ruin was beyond our grasp. The Krexians were too prideful—being mere ants in the stars, how were we to wrestle against giants? Civilizations that were not self-aware only ever saw to their own end.
Just like the Krexians.
The Knowers, alongside the unknown hostile civilization, purged most of the bystander civilizations. They cleared the battlefield and were standing off once again, probingly attacking and defending as the horde of steel paused to establish a great Void fortress. Even so, just as how there will always be fishes that escape the net, the Krexians and their brethren which had not run alongside us passed through the exchange of firepower between both factions, surviving despite the minimal chance of surviving in that battleground.
Seemingly aware of their fate, they did not pause but rapidly sailed forward into the depths of the stars to escape the blows from the frightening armada instead. Cheers between tears and sniveling filled our channels alongside gibberish prayers, but that thrill was only temporary. While they thought themselves to have escaped the ranges of each other’s blows, we knew it well not to be true.
There was a chill in our hearts, as if falling into ice, when a huge circle formation tore the dimensions apart and summoned that colossal steel creation. Even if we had not known what it was for, there was no question that it was a weapon, the culmination of the most profound technologies, that even great civilizations had to be vigilant of.
Soon, we realized that it was a flower of steel yet to have bloomed. It resembled an oval seed, with uncountable pipeline constructs formed from living metals covering it like roots or arteries. Sixteen sectors of those lines upon the seed were each separated by transparent crystals.
With the outpour of surging energies, the seed ‘bloomed’. The thousand-meter long sectors outstretched into petals, with a large luminous ether cluster that whirled, expanded, and contracted at the center of flower, assuming petal forms. Then, as the light escaped the restraint of the metal petals, it projected veins of ribbon-like soft blue rays, a silver-blue bloom that displayed its pollen to the world.
It simply floated steadily in the Void, shrouded in bright and gentle light-blue radiance. Concentrated ether radiance rolled and swirled like a corona around itself.
When the petals parted, we felt a gaze of infinite threat sweeping through the stars, ignoring our inferior kind. Nevertheless, the sensation of being scrutinized down to our bones remained ingrained within our soul, as he coldly studied everything within the Void, and then silently turned to the Krexians’ fleet.
Light emanated from the flower of steel. Soft blue ether radiance crossing the dark Void to illuminate the prided Krexian armada.
And then they vanished instantly and utterly.
The Krexians’ fleet was destroyed.
Their navy of millennia of history, five thousand ships and many more vassal fleets had conquered dozens of Void civilizations and multiple vassals, claiming endless honors. A legendary armada that was recorded and praised in thousands of historical books while leaving so many glorious triumphs were dust beneath the sun and tears in the rain, reduced to nothing between discreet breaths. Neither us, them, nor even the civilizations that remained afar while spying upon everything could understand anything.
How did they do that?
It was not the time to think.
We had quickly scampered off.
Thousands of warships were destroyed, and the Krexians’ main fleet was broken. It was not unusual that those beings met such an end after subjugating, conquering, and enslaving other civilizations through martial force, but it was as if our hearts were sliced by a blade for our brethren had been in those ships too. Conscripted by the Krexians and reluctantly leaving the mossy plains on our home planet, they became the fangs and claws of the Krexians, never returning to our fold over decades and centuries. Even so, they were still our brethren, and we indeed felt pain over their deaths.
But at that moment, we could only flee in fear.
It was no longer a path that could be passed with luck or a stage that could be observed upon as long as one was prudent. It was a battlefield between great civilizations, and though we had survived through luck, we were merely living on borrowed time and the whims of others, time after time. That was the fated end for weak civilizations. We do not hate, simply feeling rage and the pain of being beaten and exploited when we fall behind.
That is the single truth inscribed in our hearts.
The Krexia main fleet was destroyed while we were left unscathed, as their other fleet detachments had to suppress other vassal states and watch over their great territories and lands. The war of superior civilizations had perhaps presented us an opportunity.
We bid farewell to our past of enslavement and turned to watch the place where our brethren and the Krexian fleet vanished.
Pale blue light still flickered in the trail left in the Void.
Silver, golden, and black fleets hovered behind the Void Behemoths, defending the massive Flower of Steel—it whirled in the Void, its sixteen crystal laced petals glinting in a bewitching but dangerous light.
We yearned for and admired that powerful light, the light called civilization, as much as we were curious and emotionally stirred by it.
That year came to be known as the Year of Renaissance, and banners of the metal flower that signified freedom were to fly upon the skies of our homeworld. We, the Obzelytes, were finally free from our shackles, and gazed upon the stars as free folk.