Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The downpour raged on, endless green lightning struck from the clouds above.
Even as Joshua stood upon the earth, the lightning descended beside him but never touched his skin. The warrior left no time for the Soul Puppets to react as well—he simply extended his right hand and firmly gripped thin air, and the white gem on the metallic halo behind him that had been swirling without stopping abruptly dazzled.
So-called Ultra-powers were simply miniaturized Steel Authority. They would combine with the life of humans and could display endless wonders: Joshua himself had collected much Steel Particles in the Void, and he realized then that the particles themselves could fuse. As long as he collected substantial Steel Particles to fuse, he could create something akin to an artificial Steel Shard.
The six gems of different colors were creations he made by fusing Steel Particles he collected back in Healthcare. Those creations were crude and experimental, and could only be used once, after which it would require energy charge. Even so, the artificial power of Authority remained unbelievably powerful for unbelievably powerful for normal humans.
Silver gem embodied pure Steel Strength. It was control over mass, able to create or disintegrate. The green gem was a natural phenomenon, capable of creating cloud, thunder, and lightning out of thin air, unleashing bolts and downpour.
And now, the white gem that Joshua was using embodied pure tremor.
As white light flickered, formless ripples unfurled and the skies hummed resoundingly, as if dozens or hundreds of dragons were bellowing. The swampland almost a thousand meters around him began to vibrate rapidly, the pseudo-earthquake quaking mud and string tides, and the earth became a dark brown ocean. Hundreds of Soul Puppets struggled to escape, only to be directly broken by the high-frequency tremors inside the mud, churned into lubricants and spare parts.
“So… this is Ultra-power.”
Joshua remained where he was without once moving. He saw that the Ultra-power he had triggered himself rampaging across heaven and earth and seemed to have an epiphany, although his expression showed nary a change.
Be that as it may, the Hunter Legion had yet to crumble. They kept advancing even after more than three hundred puppets had been devoured by mud or exploded from lightning bolts, for there were still more than a few behind them. As the air reverberated from being torn, those pure machines of slaughter finally crossed the many obstacles and arrived before their target: a huge puppet that was more than five meters tall and still growing.
It was a machine construct that never appeared in Simboa before, having a craggy and fearsome body, while its arms and joints were spread with sharp blades and horns. On both sides of its helmets were two steel protrusions that resembled dragon horns, with green lightning bolts revolving around it. And on the chest of the huge puppet, a golden vortex-shaped core was quickly gaining shape and emanating a searing presence, vaporizing all rainwater around it into steam.
The motionless puppet itself remained enlarging—the mud beneath the feet of the puppet was visibly sinking, and the surrounding sand, as if attracted by a power, fused into the puppet body. The remains of destroyed puppets that were within range thus became nutrients for the huge puppet.
Then, a single heavy-armored puppet broke through the seal of downpour, lightning, and mud. Lifting the observation mechanism on its head, it saw a behemoth that was double their height and its clenched fist that threw a jab straight at it!
Boom! As if a volcano was erupting, the air detonated at once. With a reverberation more resounding than the thunders in the sky above, unparalleled power unfurled alongside gales—the shockwaves of the fist alone pierced a cylindrical cavity stretching over thousands of meters, the violent force blasting away mud and swamp, revealing the stone deep beneath!
The heavy-armored puppet to the fore was struck true, its armor shattering and burning at once while its body broke into pieces. Its parts rocketed away as if endless pieces of bomb shrapnel, and those shrapnel alone fell a dozen more puppets, even as more puppets had their Soul Core destroyed by the piercing shockwave from the punch, pausing where they were and no longer able to react.
In the distance, Tank and the others stared dumbly at the thunder and lightning while the earth trembled amidst the downpour. They watched the puppet they had been a little acquainted with, gradually enlarging before dishing out a fist that all shuddered at.
It was so powerful; it was terrifying.
Such force was simply excessively horrifying. Tank himself would have to pay much effort to destroy one of those heavy armored puppets that were shielded with immunity, and it also had to be a single duel. However, that huge machine paralyzed dozens of puppets with a single strike.
And it was still enlarging.
“No, be careful!”
As Tank slowly regained focus, a series of varied and brutal energy surge around the huge puppet abruptly erupted before he could finish his warning!
“Requesting Ultra-power Unit installation—”
“Emergency protocols clearance, activating overdrive form—”
“Target ability exceeded evaluation range. Requesting unlock of all armaments—”
Amongst the Hunter Legion, each Soul Puppet with special design paused slightly as diverse and distinct waves of energy oscillation exploded. Abilities of different colors were unleashed under the downpour, as the Hunter Legion promptly revealed the greatest trump card that could chase the Simboan Resistance across the world!
There were more than a hundred Ultra-power puppets with unique abilities!
The air churned. A Soul Puppet that had bird wings shivered, and its entire body shot toward Joshua like an arrow loosed from its bow. Its speed exceeded the speed of sound by several folds, a sharp blade that rapidly vibrated in the air elongated in front of its body, capable of slicing stone and metals.
On another side, a snow-white puppet’s entire body glowed with a faint light. Formless psychokinetic power directly raised the earth and crumpled it into a ball of dirt several dozen tons heavy, flinging it like a meteor at the enemy huge puppet.
Apart from them, many special abilities were unleashed at once: flame, frost, lightning, acid, rays, disintegration, explosion… As the Soul Puppets worked in perfect synchrony, not only did every single one of their attacks not clash, it instead attained the effect of one plus one equals to more than two. Its shockwaves spread over the land, stirring an unbound tempest as hundreds of agile steel puppets darted through the rain, leaping amidst lightning and breaking the sound barrier, causing the air to reverberated. The machines, holding Ultra-power were overdriving their capacity, and then—
All of them charged towards the huge puppet Joshua was controlling!
At the sight, Tank, as well as Formless and Burst shuddered at once. Against such offensive, they would never survive no matter how they hide—the shockwave alone could easily kill them.
But in the very next instant, just as everyone thought that the huge puppet was not coming out of this alive, a great flash shone and dimmed just as a huge rumble resounded. As the Ultrahumans in the distance opened their eyes again, they saw in immeasurable shock that the Soul Puppets dashing at the front had been twisted in to clumps of junk metal, just as the huge puppet was grasping another Ultra-power puppet which entire body was ablaze, before composedly tearing it into two like a raw fish fillet.
The bird-winged puppet was conspicuously missing its head and upper body. It was struck where its Ultra-power was at once most formidable and vulnerable: with brute force combining with the backlash from the force itself, half of its body was pulverized.
Meanwhile, the snow-white psychokinetic puppet was flattened as two colossal hands it could not vibrate pressed towards it from left and right, turning it into a thin sheet like a hydraulic press.
In the meantime, the diverse Ultra-power puppets exploded one after another, and were written off. As the huge puppet attacked swiftly at a speed that did not befit its huge body, the imposing puppet legion fell into complete chaos.
While they did attack at once, their offensive was filled with openings for Joshua. He could move many times in an instant where typical Ultrahumans could not afford to slow down, and that was the case just now. As more than seven Ultra-power puppets pincered him from left and right, they had been certain that none could simultaneously counter their attacks. Nevertheless, Joshua could, and then some—he even counter-attacked in an orderly manner.
Without even using Ultra-power.
The powerful puppet legion was fighting the wrong opponent.
At that moment, Tank could see from far away that when the diverse Ultra-powers burst forth at Joshua, with infinite unique blows, energy beams, extraordinary spiritual force and soul ripples cascading, that the huge puppet appeared to have no inclination of using any special abilities. Against the Ultra-power tides that blanketed heaven and earth, Joshua simply clenched his fist, and in the very next second, endless specters of punches carrying brutal force struck out, each burst the air and shattering all oncoming blows!
The huge puppet then finally strode, and moved, shaking the earth. Each time he moved he would appear hundreds of meters away, and each time he attacked he would directly destroy a single Ultra-power puppet, throwing pure brute strength against the various Ultra-powers, crushing them unceremoniously.
Manipulating earth, shattering, controlling particles, dispersing, shifting temperatures and crushing. Due to the excessive gap between great size and strength, the huge puppet that was now almost ten meters tall just had to reach out to destroy one Ultra-power puppet.
The entire Hunter Legion did even have the ability to retaliate. Any attacks were ineffective, and while they occasionally hurt Joshua with their special abilities, the remains of the other puppets on the ground would be absorbed and fused in seconds, and its damaged parts would recover. Just as almost all Ultra-power putters were defeated, the other ordinary puppets naturally became simple target practice and were swept away easily.
“Is that… Ultra-power?”
Watching Joshua burying an entire Hunter Legion as if clearing rubbish, Tank stared stupidly ahead and could not help muttering.
Seemingly hearing his question, the tall and sturdy—or more precisely, the massive Steel Puppet did not turn around, instead lifting its right hand and crushing the second last puppet, before answering with a deep voice.
“This is Steel Strength.”
With that, he opened his palm, and the fragments of Steel Puppets dropped down. Only the pale blue Soul Core fragments turned into smoke, dispersing into the air.
Through the downpour, swamp, lightning, earthquakes and Joshua’s personal attention, the Hunter Legion troops that numbered up to almost ten thousand were completely destroyed.
When Joshua used his Steel Strength to animate the Authority of those gems, he understood at once with that familiar yet strange ripple that his Steel Strength was actually very similar to Authority. The only contrast between lay in the fact that Authority was singular, while his Steel Strength embodied multiple powerful abilities.
Indeed, controlling substance, creating physical objects, divine strength without equal, assimilating mass, transformation, and self-evolution… Joshua’s Steel Strength itself was a combination of dozens formidable abilities, which was why in the end, he simply stopped employing the single-use Ultra-power gems, instead solving the problems at hand with a way he was most familiar with.
Although it appeared to be simple brute force, it was in fact a simultaneous functioning of ‘self-evolve’ and ‘assimilating mass’. In fact, if not for the swift alteration through Steel Strength, how could an ordinary Steel Puppet withstand the besieging of thousands of heavy-armor puppets?
Finally, apart from a rather extraordinary special puppet, every other puppet was broken by Joshua into pieces, with none amongst the Hunter Legion able to stand against him as he used Steel Strength—the warrior even had the erroneous impression that If his Steel Strength could absorb the essence within, it might be able to extract seven to eight Steel Shards, allowing the wielder to grasp all kinds of special and great power. Even immortality might not be impossible then.
As he thought further, he wondered how much Authority the Steel Pythons that were born with Streel Strength embodied, and how much abilities would it split into?
But it was just wondering. None could dissect his Steel Strength apart from Joshua himself, much less a world.
At the thought, Joshua arrived before the last remaining puppet amongst the Hunter Legion.
It was a puppet that appeared very ordinary and was completely indistinct from other ordinary puppets… However, as Joshua could see electromagnetic waves and directly monitor such signals, the puppet had simply released and accepted too many signals that it appeared abnormal. It appeared to be responsible for all communications of the entire Hunter Legion, with every Soul Puppet’s signals that were transmitted externally requiring its transit, just as it would transfer every command coming in from outside to the other puppets.
In other words, that puppet was the Hunter Legion’s communications hub, perhaps even their control center.
Joshua then lifted his huge hands and caught the last puppet—the Core Puppet—with a vice grip. Its limbs had already been twisted off by the warrior, leaving an exposed body. Silver radiance flickered between Joshua’s palm as pure Steel Strength permeated the puppet’s insides.
Joshua intended to use Steel Strength and directly read the information stored in the puppet, even intending to trace the being pulling its strings through the communications channels it possessed.
But just as Steel Strength eroded the metallic body over seconds, the warrior could not repress a gasp.
Slightly lifting the Soul Puppet in his hand, Joshua frowned. He had wanted to investigate its body construct, only to exclaim quietly in surprise. “That’s… self-consciousness?”
“Soul Puppets could actually develop self-consciousness?”