Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Through Steel Strength link, Joshua’s original form instantly understood everything about Simboa. He learned that the world would have trouble overcoming itself, that the Simboan resistance was too weak and the enemy they face could subjugate an entire world by themselves, a deity that expelled the Steel Python… Even if the profound power of a god was not taken into a count, they would need decades of birth and recuperation to face the Soul Puppet forces alone, before spending centuries to reclaim their world and rebuild order.
Joshua did not intend to interfere with their struggles or their rebuilding of civilization and glory, but he could not abide by the mastermind sitting contentedly upon their throne, or that that the creator of the Soul Stars could simply spectate everything.
He would find that person and end the misshapen order.
Therefore, the giant god exhaled, turning the world as bright as day.
The fissure over the skies tore apart the connection of the world inside out, revealing the unusual sights of the endless Void. There was a thin veil, however, that kept the world and Void from being directly connected, but the breath of the Giant God could pass it. As the heavens of the entire world turned silver white out of nowhere, crimson sparks, along with endless radiance began to cascade across all directions. Clusters of silver shroud and rays unfurled toward the horizon like corona ejected from the sun, a wild tide akin to that of the northern oceans.
The energy from beyond the world instantly claimed the colors of the world. Inside the silver Steel Shroud, there was a reverberation akin to a horn, and in a brief few seconds, as the entire world stared agape, the silver tide washed over most of the skies overhead, descending like rain. Tank looked on as the silver shroud swept through the skies, absorbing the dust in the atmosphere around it and forming a crystalline downpour. It crashed down on the ground but without striking any living being, and the gray-back crystal bodies simply rolled on the ground before slowly dispersing into heavy dust.
Soon, the wafting shroud of dust particles that blanketed the sky and the sun and troubled all life on Simboa vanished. Shuddering, the Ultrahumans stood and touched those dust particles, gulping mouthfuls of the unbelievably fresh air. It was something they never felt for decades, with some even sobbing… But that was not all. From the fissure, another cluster of silver shroud cascaded, dyeing the surrounding atmosphere as if ink upon clear water, the incomprehensibly rich Steel Strength darting toward the network of fake stars.
Instantly, there was a dull boom that no human ear could hear. The stars over the skies flickered, alternating between brightness and dullness, before a vast tidal wave of soul ripples swept through the whole of Simboa, leaving all things astonished.
Between blinks, all Soul Puppets were paralyzed, while Simboan Ultrahumans went down on their knees, shuddering: unparalleled might was descending like a god, and a destruction of retribution had come.
As Joshua van Radcliffe unleashed his full, terrible power, flipping heaven and earth was like the flip of a hand, even the natural ecosystem of a world would hence change immensely. The dust, left by the apocalyptic war a thousand years ago dispersed beneath the warrior’s breath, just as the magical formation of stars that monitored the entire world froze. And that was just his breath—if he truly made a move, he might utterly overturn the cycle of Order in a world as the Steel Python Karlis had said.
And in the endless silver shroud, the huge puppet stood at the center of the fissure, the solemn gaze of the giant god behind him. Before him was the entire world of Simboa, and between the Steel Shroud and energy flow that reverberated, the puppet lifted its hand and pointed directly at the dark-blue spiral tower at the center of the world.
As if receiving a command from its master, the shroud that unfurled across all directions began to surge toward the center of the world at once. It swept through the chimneys emitting thick smoke and magical light, the factories that protruded unevenly over the horizon as well as the large regions of metallic buildings, and Joshua instantly knew all that had happened in that distant land.
Those were factories that processed souls, bone, and skin, crafting Soul Puppets and all creations across Simboa. In those huge and majestic steel buildings, endless pipelines operated day and night, while Soul Puppets transported corpses from various Garden Zones—in fact, all souls and Ultra-power units were transported here and sorted.
The souls of Simboans that were without Ultra-powers like that unnamed technician was classified into a group. Their dim and faint cluster of light was piled together, stuffed inside a hexagonal prism and ended up being crafted into various soul creations, such as information storage units, processing units, and energy torches. Intricate spell formation worked amidst complete soul industry, forging spare parts of society from soul.
On the other hand, souls from Ultrahumans dazzled. If the standard soul was one, then most of Ultrahumans’ souls were above three. Those rich, radiant souls would be marked with unique runic patterns and inscription before being made into precious Soul Cores used for new Soul Puppets, while some were mixed for Ultra-power Units or producing high-grade Control Cores, but most were being stored to build brand-new Soul Stars.
It was severely difficult to fuse Ultra-power units and soul, with less than one compatible amongst ten pairings. Even so, in the thousands of factory pipelines, high-grade Control Cores that could produce Ultra-power Puppets were sent into warehouses to be stored, a force that the Simboan Resistance could never triumph against over decades.
Such was the supply quota of the Soul Puppets’ Garden Zones at the core hub of Soul Puppets, and the truth of the world—under the immeasurably orderly rule of the puppets, countless Simboans were bred and harvested like livestock. Naturally, Soul Puppets never discriminate against any soul or Simboan corpse, only obeying orders and doing what they should. They never once looked down upon the crops they harvested, instead processing those final remains solemnly and flawlessly.
But there was no hiding the fact that the entire world was actually a nursery, a farm of humans as crops—what was worse, there may be a powerful owner behind the farm.
A world of eternal despair—such was Joshua’s singular opinion.
Just think about it: Simboa, isolated in the Void vortex, powerful Soul Puppets, comprehensive breeding procedures and a muddleheaded, Resistance running for their lives. The internal struggles would never overturn such order without outside interference, and it was all as suffocating as steel compounding with water, and yet sturdy beyond compare. If Simboa continued such breeding, it would never fall into chaos even after hundreds and thousands of years, never destroying itself like the Evil God of Famine.
Was it Order? Certainly! However, Joshua could not stand such Order.
It was one without future or progress, and what was the meaning of existence for a world that simply existed? Without a body, consciousness and souls were only domesticated creatures. Enforcing cold programming upon intelligence was unquestionably the hell of hells for all beings, acknowledging such order was denying the meaning of all civilizations!
The warrior was such a person who would say that the greatest thing for him was a difficult challenge when asked. Joshua had his preferences: he enjoyed seeing the blood of nemesis flowing beneath his feet and using the skulls of enemy tribes to decorate his mansion. Even so, his heart had a raging fire—he never enjoyed watching disappointedly, turning back or unshifting worlds as if they were dead. He favored change, progress, and future, to challenge difficult and indeterminable destiny.
Hence, a layer of red light suddenly appeared over the body of the colossal Steel Puppet: those were dancing crimson sparks, while patterns akin to ruptures over porcelain spread over steel.
If the birth of Flame was due to something combusting, then what combusted was definitely the warrior’s soul. He was ablaze from anger, for the billions of lives being harvested, and the billions more of unnamed dead. The air around him trembled in the presence of the broiling Steel Strength, with space itself prepared to crumple and bend at any time. The warrior determinedly stood vigilant against it all, resolved to bury the deathly Order of this frozen world beneath blaze and ash.
The Simboan’s civilization and Order had long collapses, and there was no witness nor jury in that world.
But that was fine. If civilization and Order were absent, Joshua would be the judge.
Joshua muttered, his voice deep and serene, his very words stirring waves upon the land.
Where the silver shroud engulfed, unthinkable phenomenon began to appear: under those unidentifiable erosion of Steel Dust, soil and stone melted like ice cubes brushed by hot water. The sturdy steel factories did not hold on for long, and those majestic factories that protruded over the center of the world crumbled beneath the tides of silver shroud, the incessant crash and reverberation of collapsing echoing across the world.
It was a technique Joshua learned from the Black Fog. In the aspect of Steel Strength erosion, he would never lose out to the greatest creation of the Shelter civilization, and that technique was now used against the warrior’s enemy.
In an instant, dozens of factories were nothing but dust following the erosion of the Silver Shroud, while other large installation of the puppets could hardly escape the fate of being consumed by Steel Strength. As silver dust spread like a cultured plague, the entire center of the world was enshrouded, leaving only the Garden Zones with many Simboans. Those were enemies the Resistance must overcome in the future, and Joshua would not overstep boundaries.
At present, the Resistance encamped southwest of the continent could clearly see that the skies above had nothing other than thousands of flickering stars and silver stream, and from the silver stream, a profound power was cascading. A primitive power originating from Creation was brewing its next offensive: The Steel Puppet high above waved its arms, having destroyed most of the steel building clusters at the center of the world. However, the warrior was no satisfied—his gaze was locked upon the dark-blue tower.
“Calm, don’t panic! Keep to your formation!” Several old white-haired people with robust forms were shouting and calming everyone from high above in the Resistance’s base. Their brows tightened, they called for composure with clear voices amongst the panicking Ultrahumans. “It’s just the sky shining, what is there to fear! We escaped the clutches of the Soul Puppets not to shudder before such things!”
“Pick up your weapons and collect your baggage! Protect your families and maintain your formations! We’ll move now and hide in the mountains!”
The entire Resistance calmed themselves once those elderly folks who were clearly their leaders spoke. Like a divine pillar, the Resistance was comforted whatever storm stirred outside: their ranks immediately collected themselves from the chaos, and forming a huge party, they darted toward the mountains at the southern reaches of the world.
Suddenly, thousands of curiously designed flying machines rose from the buildings covered in a silver shroud. They weaved in and out of the shroud, a layer of luminous shield shining upon them and barring the erosion of the shroud. As if having grown wings, those flying mechanisms unleashed a hail of fire from their missiles and cannons, quaking the air, and the light hum of shaking crystal bodies were audible: those were the sounds of high-energy beam discharges.
At once, all beams and projectiles shot at the skies above, just as the weapons placed on the count by Soul Puppets fired at once. Rays akin to positron cannons shattered the thin silver shroud and shot directly at Joshua, appearing intent on felling the huge puppet at the center of the world and stop the world’s upheaval.
But a prompt storm whistled as it stirred the atmosphere, sweeping against all beams and cannon fire. The tempest where silver and crimson mixed thus unleashed powerful energy flows and crushed all projectiles, physical or not. It even shot down on the ground, kicking up earth and stone and quaking the lithosphere. A hill thus directly vanished, a huge crater left in its place.
Joshua watched everything coldly. He stared at the Soul Puppets’ factories eroded by the silver shroud, the gales that swept across the land that turned hills and buildings into ash. Joshua waited for the being controlling the Soul Puppets to retaliate but failed, for that mastermind appeared to remain in slumber, showing no reaction toward Joshua’s rampage.
If that was the case, the warrior would gather his own power and simply aim toward the dark-blue tower that stood aloft in the middle of the world.
Factories were flattened and buildings shattered as the world trembled beneath Joshua’s power. It was an apocalyptic sight in the center of the continent where hurricanes and earthquakes raged—the invincible fortresses of the Soul Puppets were about to be pulverized, and now, that tower was about to face the same end as Steel Strength that eroded all things swept past like a shroud, turning everything in the dust.
But just as the silver shroud was about to touch the surface of the dark blue spiraling tower that pierces the skies, formless ripples spread by layers around the tower, forming concentric circles that kept spreading. Complex and mystical, dreamy radiance unfurled, stagnating the winds around the tower.
The silver shroud froze just as the storm stopped moving. Any who had vision above Supreme-tier would clearly see that the layer of Steel Shroud that was closest to the tower had a gap from the building that was less than ten nanometers, and yet that gap was akin to the difference between heaven and earth, for the world was motionless within!
In the distance, every single member of the Simboan Resistance who were hurrying on in the wastelands stopped where they were. Their expressions were fatigued, showing worry and panic, with even the several white-haired elders at the fore appearing uneasy, able to only force themselves to calm. The rising dust around them also paused, and the scene resembled an oil painting titled ‘migration’.
In the Garden Zones of the Soul Puppets, the many Soul Puppets were gathering, moving according to their preset programming to prepare for war. Countless sealed weapons were drawn out from their weapons vault and loaded, but they now paused where they were too, maintaining their urgent pre-battle state.
At the center of the world, one could see industrial pipelines and colossal Puppet facilities that had mostly been disintegrated and eroded inside factories and buildings. Only building frames were left of them, just as some had compromised foundations and was about collapse, and yet everything resembled ants in amber, frozen in the air and not actually collapsing.
Everything stopped—or rather, ‘time’ has paused.
Soon, the dreamlike radiance flashed, the only thing that moved in the motionless world. It appeared to not exist in the physical realm at all, and was a mere afterimage. But as the afterimage cascaded, time, too, began to flow in reverse.
The silver shroud flowed backward, collapsed buildings and factories returned to their original state, while the hurricanes vanished without a trace. The Resistance who had entered the wastelands returned to their encampment, while the rains of crystals, along with the countless gray-black crystals that had frozen on the dusty ground darted back into the sky like a tape being rewound, breaking into countless vague dust clouds.
High above, the fissure tore by the warrior gradually sealed itself. Everything returned to its original state, just as the network of the Soul Stars returned to normal, and the magical formation that monitored the world operated as usual.
The huge Steel Puppet was no exception. He slowly descended from the zenith back to halfway above the sky: the light that permeated the entire world withdrew from the heaves, returning to his palm… It was as if nothing happened, as if everything was a dream.
The hands on the lock turned toward the opposite direction.
The flow of the River of Fate reversed.
It was as if all things moved against the tide, and was being pushed back incessantly…
Therefore, everything returned to the past.