Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The dreamlike sights gradually vanished as the curtains fall upon the tale of a boy, a youth and a man that happened a thousand years ago.
Having given up on every illusion of perfection, the man who had exhausted all efforts to hunt those Ultrahumans who caused Chaos finally became the nightmare of the entire world.
When the man who could ‘stop’ time had neither he had to protect nor limitations staying his hand, there was no one and nothing in the world that could stop him.
He could kill anyone because he moved in a stagnated realm no one could see, and before that power, all tight defenses and fortresses were nothing. He could wipe out anything because he could attempt another ten times if he failed once, and a hundred times if he failed in ten tries. He had all the ‘time’ to grind and destroy.
On the world where civilization and Order had fallen, he had traveled across snowy lands, grasslands, swamps, and ruins of cities, leaving endless bloodstains and corpses. Ultrahuman Organizations that wreaked havoc were destroyed one after another, just as he scorched one post-apocalyptic human settlement after another. He slew thugs who did all wrong, ordinary humans who looted vaults of resources, self-styled kings that were Ultrahumans who enslaved others along with survivors who kept gathering, attempting to rebuild the former World Government hierarchy of Simboa.
The man was indiscriminate, which was why the once prosperous sin cities turned into graveyards overnight, no human traffickers or violent gangs living within surviving. That was why the most powerful southern sea fortress sunk overnight, the twenty-seven nuclear missiles it carried vanishing without a trace.
The man wandered the entire Simboa continent, hunting and killing anything that caused Chaos or influenced the world over their personal desires, be it Ultrahuman or remnant of the World Government.
He was very patient. If a hundred worse successors were to pop-up after a whimsical leader was killed, he would purge those hundred leaders as well. If there were ten thousand who succeeded them as well, he would keep killing all of them since the numbers were but an instant to him. There was nothing to it—he did not mind killing more, for he would correct any wrongs appearing in the world and destroy any Chaos that befell the Simboans.
Once, there were those who claimed that Order could not be established upon violence and slaughter, just as others claimed that darkness and Chaos could never be culled.
The man once believed that, but no longer.
And he was right: Fear and blood certainly forged Order.
Therefore, the man strengthened through incessant slaughter. His ability could once stagnate a zone of hundred- and fifty-meters around him for fifteen seconds and its cooldown was ten seconds. Then, it stagnated for twenty seconds, and then twenty-five, eventually leaping up from half a minute to one minute. The cooldown time too was reduced from ten seconds to five, then three to one before becoming negligible.
The stagnated area grew too. A first, his ability could only freeze one street, then a few streets before rising up to half a city. Then, when the man became able to distinctly ‘see’ the ever-present ‘Ultra-power essence’, he could pause the time throughout a city, observe those multi-colored particles as if they were meteors that permeated from beyond the world and seeped out of the Ultrahuman cadavers. They engulfed the entire world, before being caught and absorbed by his body, gradually augmenting his ability.
When the man had finished his journey around the world and killed all people who intended to perpetuate Chaos, he could now stop time by hours, and spread its power across entire regions within a nation. Now, there were no factions that dared to expand nor any beings braved enough to stand out to rule: All lived in fear for an invisible nightmare wandered the continent.
Only death awaits all dissidents against the law and Order the man set. Those with the courage to resist were corpses and bones since years ago, leaving crowds whose gall were broken, never brave enough and powerless to resist for their enemy was time itself.
What was the zenith of Ultra-power?
It is to subjugate an entire civilization and a world with the power of a single human.
When everyone on Simboa fell into panic due to the name of one person and never attempting anything reckless, that man would become the ruler of that world in every sense of the word. His will was law, his preferences rules—thus, when the name ‘Fattrovi’ spread throughout the land, all Simboans would worship that name in supplication.
But Fatrrovi did not care.
The illusion utterly vanished as the dreamlike realm concluded. Joshua’s will was returned to reality, where the Simboan sky remained in darkness. Dust remained tightly shrouding upon the atmosphere, and in the center of the world, the steel factories that used human souls as raw materials was not yet destroyed.
It was as if everything he had done was an illusion.
Standstill, even reversing.
Joshua stared at the profound Steel Strength in his hand he had yet unleash. It should have turned into beam a few minutes ago, rupturing the Simboa’s World Barrier while linking to his original form. But now, that power was bewilderingly flowing back into his hand like a rewound cassette, just as his original form at the outer reaches of the world was probably doubtful of the bizarre shift, unsure why he himself would sever the link.
That was probably the power of the man countless Simboan fearfully dubbed ‘the Time Turner’ and ‘Ruler of Destiny’.
And now, that man spoke.
His voice was serene and unemotional like that of Soul Puppets. “Leave my world.”
The rest of Simboa was silent apart from his voice. All things: dust, smoke, cloud, wind and even light itself was motionless, throwing the world into an indescribable darkness as Fattrovi stood upon the peak of the spiral tower, overlooking the world from high above and warning off the stagnated Steel Puppet.
At the same time, a brutal repulsive force was exerted upon Joshua, and it was so profound that it appeared to be the world itself, turned into a living being and intending to expel Joshua, the ‘foreign object’ out of its own body. In that instant, the space around Joshua shattered by the layers as veins of dark blue patterns extended amidst the broken space.
One word from Fattrovi had seen boundless formations that were thousands of meter large spreading from the warrior, just as a cavity directed toward the outer Void swiftly appeared. It was like a black hole, intending to draw every object in the formation within, the huge red-black puppet included. Caught, he was slowly dragged toward the cavity, about to be simply expelled away from Simboa.
But then a deep and clear voice echoed in the silent world.
As if something shattered, the Steel Puppet that should have been imprisoned in time and space slowly looked up, staring just as coldly at the man named Fattrovi. The huge puppet floating in the air and the man who stood upon the spiral tower leveled their gaze at each other, and in seconds, a deep voice echoed again from the loudspeaker inside the puppet.
“This isn’t your world.”
Flames ignited over the body of the puppet once more, and dazzling radiance cascaded upon the imprisoned world once more. Surging Steel Strength flowed along shattered space and filled the passageway set to expel him like glue. With that, Simboa’s sky was divided into light and dark: one was in gloom and standstill as if a dead realm, the other bright and animated, filled with fiery light and vigor.
Although he burst out with his power and shrugged away the bondages over the stagnated realm, Joshua did not attack his opponent like he usually did every single time before—instead he stood at the center of the light, staring at his opponent.
Fattrovi—the name of the man in the illusion had a plain but tidy visage, but his gaze was cold like a machine. A blue glint flowed from his eyes as he watched Joshua shrugged off his bonds, but never reacting.
It was the face of the most powerful Ultrahuman who subjugated the entire world a thousand years ago, creating Soul Puppets and breeding Simboans like farm animals. It was not fearsome, and yet it instills a chill in the heart.
Joshua should have his memories reverted to a few minutes ago just like the Soul Puppets and Resistance across Simboa, but Steel Strength and Information Link connected him with the unknown power that shrouded the spiral tower. He hence entered Fattrovi’s dreamland, or the ‘past’ of a genuine world, witnessing the truth about Simboa’s fall and learning about Fattrovi’s conviction.
The man who sworn to uproot Chaos and establish absolute order had seen through his promise, thereby creating a world of Order as sturdy as iron, and as cold as ice.
“All that just now was your memory?”
The two had stood off against each other in silence, before the puppet’s speakers throbbed again, emitting a deep voice. “That’s your reason for breeding Simboans? Because you can’t find a way for Ultrahumans and ordinary people to coexist, the solution to maintain order, you would simply destroy everyone’s will and keep them in the Nurseries like farm animals?”
“Coexist? That is not the question.”
Joshua’s voice was rich and trembled the world, but unexpectedly, Fattrovi did not keep up his offensive despite his failure to expel the warrior. He looked up toward the starry sky, before turning back to warrior again and said calmly, “Long as Ultrahumans lived, true Order cannot be established.”
The man called Ruler by the Soul Puppets paid no heed to Joshua’s reaction or the flames that were growing upon his body. Fattrovi stood upon the peak of the spiral tower and looked at the world of Simboa below, watching every Soul Puppet Garden Zone, seemingly able to spot every Ultrahuman inside. “I’ve tried many times and failed every time,” he said softly. “Unbridled Ultra-power would spread without boundary, and everyone would attain power that could almost destroy the world. Before such force, Order is a paper anyone can easily tear apart.”
Then, as if recalling, Fattrovi turned to Joshua again. The thin man appeared to be laughing, and yet there was no mirth emanating from him. “Anyone can kill anyone, but none could be stopped. Everyone could cause worldwide chaos, zombie plagues, living machines, endless fires to incinerate the continent or freeze the world in ice. They could even use their gaze to control, to enslave the souls of other Ultrahumans—their existence destroys the world’s stability.”
“When the time comes, they would all call themselves gods… they would toy with the world’s principles, fight each other and destroy everything in the past and burn the Unawakened into ashes as if they were weed. Order and society are as fragile as an eggshell—I have seen by my own eyes as our civilization descended into Chaos, where there was nothing but ugliness.”
“They desire to take this world,” Fattrovi said as he stood on the top of the tower. “And I could only kill them all.”
The cold words were spoken with the plainest and calmest tone by that man, but Joshua could hear the helplessness that emanated from the depths of his heart.
But the warrior could only stay silent in response.
Unlike Mycroft and other worlds where many possessed Extraordinary powers, the circumstances on Simboa was too special. Located at the center of a Void vortex, it would be frequently be struck by a thousand more times the number of Steel Particles than ordinary worlds. Faint Authority would spread without limit in this world that was originally without supernatural powers, thus conducting a play of Awakening for all citizens.
If it were to be put in another way, it was akin to every Ultrahuman carrying a concealed handgun or an invisible launch button for a nuclear missile, with any ordinary person able to get the same thing at any given time as well. Therefore, it would take just one person amongst them to go amok for hundreds to die, a street ruined or an entire city leveled.
That was completely different from Mycroft where training is necessary for supernatural powers. Ultra-power’s obtaining was too arbitrary and too easy, and no one had definitive knowledge about it, much less respect. What was more, for those who were originally ordinary and simply procured Authority, their defenses were so weak that it was likely for powerful Ultrahumans to fall even if it were weaker Superhumans that ambushed them, premonition alert notwithstanding.
As long as there was intelligence and ambition, Order would be impossible for Simboa.
There was therefore only one solution.
Fattrovi did not need to say it—Joshua himself could imagine the developments that followed.
With the birth of Ultrahumans being too random and completely unpredictable, and all Ultra-powers posing a great potential menace, Fattrovi employed Simboan technology and the wondrous, newly discovered thing called soul to create Soul Puppets. For the Time Turner who would never wither or age, learning and researching various soul technologies was a matter of time—which meant that it was no issue a tall. In the domain of Standstill, generations after generations of improved puppets were built and formed the base of his order.
Fattrovi cleansed the world, culling all Ultrahumans posing a threat and imprisoning the remaining ordinary but obedient humans in the sealed Garden Zones, managed completely by Soul Puppets. He would then use deft soul techniques to brainwash them and enforce Thought Stamps: with their imagination and cognition sealed, the intelligent Simboans would become a creature that labored and slept, no better than beasts. That way, even if one those ordinary beings would suddenly Awaken an Ultra-power that could destroy an entire world, he would maintain his life as livestock and a part of Nursery in the absence of self and intelligence. Meanwhile, Soul Puppets, being not humans would have no preferences, thus able to block out any possible liability.
Nevertheless, Joshua knows that it definitely was not Fattrovi’s method at the start. He must have failed many times, pondered for years and improved time after time before creating such suffocating Order… Even so, Joshua found it puzzling.
“That doesn’t explain why you have to breed Simboans or harvest their souls,” the warrior said with a low voice. “There is completely no need to let them live. You hate Ultrahumans, you hate Simboans—why not kill them all? There is no reason you should let them live!”
Compared to other inexplicable issues, that was the greatest doubt Joshua had: Fattrovi had no reason to maintain Order. His sister died in an Ultrahuman attack, just as his parents were maimed, only to die a few years later. And several years on, his comrades were wiped out in the betrayal by the World Government, meaning that everything the man ever valued was destroyed at the hands of Simboans. He thus held a hatred that kills against both Ultrahumans and ordinary humans, and have no reason to protect the order of the world.
He should have been the happiest when Simboan civilization fell, and should have destroyed the world long ago without leaving a trace.
So why would he spend so much effort to establish Order, craft the Nurseries of corpses to keep the system going for infinite years?
“There’s only one explanation.”
Facing the Time Turner who said nothing until now and had even closed his eyes, Joshua controlled his puppet body, and spoke with a flat, machine voice, “you need a lot of souls—to be precise, you need an astronomical number to achieve something. Indeed, you require infinite souls…”
Pausing for a moment, Joshua continued, “to reverse time.”
“Just as you reversed my attack just now.”
The world was silent again following those words. On the sky, one thousand and six hundred Soul Stars flickered, just as the spiral tower below Fattrovi began to stream in dark blue radiance. Joshua, however, was not in a hurry to finish his words. He merely stared at Fattrovi, and soon, the huge puppet started, “But…”
“But, I know.”
It was then that Fattrovi finally spoke calmly. He opened his eyes—the hands that flowed in reverse against time had stopped completely.
“Time is an illusion,” the ruler of time continued, as if muttering to himself. “Time is a scalar quantity of how objects moved, and scalar cannot be reversed.”
“I’m aware that it had been a thousand years, even several millennia if the time I reversed was taken into account… Time simply didn’t exist, it is the process in which mass flowed. Even if I stopped my time, it only pauses the movements of all things.”
“So-called time reversal is simply turning the movements of objects backward. You’re able to free yourself from my hold exactly because your power output exceeded my stagnation—it’s so simple, and yet I actually only understood it now.”
Fattrovi carefreely revealed the truth of his ability, because he knew Joshua never attacked first because he had not seen through the truth of his ability, just as he himself did not attack before he comprehended the way in which the warrior freed himself.
Nevertheless, both sides clearly saw through each other’s moves… which mean that the peaceful delaying was over.
The real fight was coming.
“Last question, Fattrovi.”
In the bright part of the world, flames were ablaze. The huge Steel Puppet whimsically absorbed the energies in the air around him, shattering the dark and stagnated around himself.
As Joshua mustered his full power, his voice became thicker, grander and rumbling with echoes.
“Did you reverse time, brainwash, and breed souls to save your world?”
“Of course not.”
The flat, indifferent voice from the Ruler of Time wafted from the peak of the tower. Countless complex patterns were beginning to unfurl in the atmosphere, just a circle of runes appeared behind Fattrovi’s body, whose eyes were akin to sturdy stone that would never change even after the grin of ten thousand years.
“Saving the world or whatever that is has nothing to do with me.”
“I simply want the world to become mine, to become what I envision.”
“Is that so? Pity.”
Watching as his opponent began to muster his power, Joshua’s voice turned cold as well.
“I wanted to say that knowledge is power and should be used to build staircases, not fences, that there are endless worlds you could visit in the Multiverse where supernatural forces coexisted with mortals… But now, it’s clear that you’re just giving up.”
Unable to find an answer, therefore pausing where he was in despair, even beginning to delude himself in reversing time, refraining from advancing.
“Nonsense, Foreigner. You know nothing and comprehend nothing… I have found the correct path.”
Seeing that the warrior was showing definite killing intent, the silver heavy scepter of a python materialized in Fattrovi’s hand at once. Holding it and standing aloft, his body began to unleash a wave of massive and imposing presence.
Over the skies, one thousand and six hundred Soul Stars shone brilliantly, dyeing the world in the colors of daylight.
The clock hands in the eyes of the Lord of Time began to twirl. “I am Order, I am the world.”
“I judge all men and all things.”