Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Time passed by minutes and seconds. The future repeated itself hundreds and thousands of times, but the World Inner could not endure the two forces called possibility and reality that could distort all things quaked.
Causality was reversed. The past diminished in endless illusions, just as reality became even more vague. Cavities hence appeared in history, and everything was consumed by the River of Existence.
That was why Fattrovi saw such a phantom: an adult couple leading a young boy and girl, hurriedly fleeing the city in their car.
The man was understanding, never once ceasing his consolation of this own wife who appeared panicking, just as the two children were smart and refrained from crying and making a ruckus. As the elder brother, the boy even imitated his father and stroke his sister’s head, softly consoling her since she appeared no too happy with her birthday party being cut short.
There were no cars on the streets since it was night. They drove swiftly, leaving the city in just a dozen minutes.
“Are things really that bad?” The woman asked softly and worriedly halfway through the journey.
“A friend—an Ultrahuman, warned me… I didn’t believe it at first, but there is nothing to lose in believing something so important.”
But soon, white-hot fiery light shone behind them. Amidst incessant explosions and rumple, the once peaceful city was ablaze.
Houses fell and streets shattered as a shockwave that shook the entire car violently struck from behind. The quiet girl now broke out in sobs, and the boy hurriedly calmed her, just as the man and woman panicked. They could see the city falling into panic behind them, their gaze at once terrified and rejoicing.
It was the prelude to the first Ultra-power war.
The displaced family began to wander between cities. Fortunately, the World Government still stood, and with the father being a known technician in his industry while the mother was a rather reputed author, they quickly found new jobs and settled in a new city.
The boy and the girl were back to school as well: The boy was a good person—though he said few words, he was sincere and soon made many friends in school. But the world remained at war, and many students would often be absent from school, just as the number of teachers decreased. In two years, the school formally closed just as the city was about to be abandoned, and the family was prepared to head towards the few fortress cities that were the most stalwart, under instructions from the World Government.
On the way, exhaustion showed in the parents’ visage. Demanding work, high-pressure environment along with the air that was becoming more turbid and bizarre had the made the couple who were in their forties feel weary inside, but they were happy that both boy and girl were healthy.
“We don’t matter. The children must have their future.” Such was the words in one of their futures.
Life in fortress cities was even more difficult. Shortage of resources led to rationing of food and water, and with the boy and girl who were then pubescent youths, the parents labored to obtain more rations, even giving them their own. Their children refused on a few occasions, but the parents would give them scolding such as “What nonsense are you spouting?” or “Just take it.”
In the last day of their impoverished state, when the father was admitted to hospital for malnourishment, he awakened his Ultra-power, the powerful energy wave spreading across the entire city.
Experts of various disciplines came to conduct test the ability of the powerful Awakened, judging that the youth’s power was the rare ‘teleportation’ or ‘high-speed movement’, an ability that the World Government needed very much at the moment. For that, the government provided more rationing to recruit the youth, so that he entered the special unit called ‘Hunters’. His parents wanted to refuse, just as the sister appeared worried, but the youth gently and firmly shook his head, placating them.
“It’s now time for me to contribute for the family.”
War was cruel but not difficult for the youth. With his power of ‘Standstill’, he could always help his party complete series of missions, and soon rose in rank and became a core member of the team, finally becoming a pillar of the family. His parents, whose bodies stopped deteriorating recuperated at home, while his sister skipped grades to enter university—the boy who was now a man shouldered it all, and was willing despite the hardship.
Time flew. The war was almost over, and with the World Government on the full counteroffensive, the Extremist Ultrahumans ultimately did not have anything to prolong their crusade. Clearly, peace was coming, and yet it was a week before the final, decisive battle that the news of the parents’ presence before death doors came consecutively.
“My child, do not grief. My body has never been that healthy in the first place—I’m just tired after years of toil.”
The woman lay on her sick bed. Despite needing the aid of respirators, she gazed lovingly at her grown, crying children and her own husband, and said softly, “You are my hopes… Don’t cry, my hopes. Let me have a glimpse of a peaceful world.”
Their mother passed on, and their father was taken ill on the next day. The doctors said that it was stomach cancer probably after the many social events he had, along with years of without recuperating. It was now late-stage, and with multiple inflammatory diseases flaring, there was basically no saving him.
“He had kept holding on, probably because he didn’t want to trouble you.” A doctor told the man carefully, with the medical report in hand. “It had been stable at first, but your mother’s passing was probably too upsetting.”
The man, now one of the triumvirates of the Hunters and a top official of the World Government, said nothing for a long time as he read his father’s medical history.
He and his sister arrived at the ward, where his father had not even the strength to speak. The withering man gazed with happiness upon his son and daughter, and as if satisfied, the light in his eyes dimmed.
The man bellowed and activated his power, pausing the entire city in his desire to reclaim the last moments of his father, touching his father’s face so that his ability would freeze the body he left behind. But as powers go, it ended, the old man died but with hope and happiness.
After his power ended, the man vanished without a trace, with his sister unable to find him anywhere. The man was wandering between cities, walking every corner of the fortress at a loss and watching as everyone else’s lives unfolded. The people of the world were tired and panicking from war, worried if tomorrow would every come and whether there was hope in the future. The man also walked past all hidden rooms and places he had never been, finding many objects and seeing many things—those secrets would have been able to guard against a teleporter, but unable to hold up again a person who could pause time.
That was why the man discovered the World Government’s plan for all Ultrahumans. He laughed loudly in bewilderment, amidst the paused world—there was no telling if he was grieving or rejoicing.
The phantoms ended, for Fattrovi had closed his eyes.
He was unwilling and unable to harden his heart so that he would keep watching… He no longer observed that World Line, that possibility.
Indeed, he was aware that while that possibility held sadness, it might be the path to future and hope: his sister was alive, his comrades too, and there was no implacable hate between Ultrahumans and ordinary people. When the Hunters were promoted as leaders, the World Government would eventually become a body ruling over an Ultra-powered civilization—the road may be difficult and filled with troubles, the ‘future’ was at least ‘possible’.
But Fattrovi resolved himself to close his eyes, even as his head surged.
For that was enough.
The Time Turner never desired such a flawless life—he simply wanted to hear his parents’ voices, watch his sister blossom, and for his comrades who battled for half of their lives to have a kind ending… He just wanted to witness a ‘future of possibility’.
And now was not the time to pursue such things. He knew that he still had something very important, and he could feel himself forgetting many things along with one that was of utmost importance. Racking his brains, Fattrovi considered everything he might have forgotten.
‘Where… am I?
‘What… am I doing?
‘Right… I am fighting!’
Fattrovi promptly opened his eyes when he remembered everything—a true sense of the phrase as he awakened from the dream of Chaos!
And before his eyes was a Steel Fist, broken and yet carrying power without equal capable of tearing space apart!
The giant fist quickly retreated—or more specifically, was withdrawn. Still, Fattrovi could feel half of his skull being shattered while the entire Celestial Giant was sent flying backward. His mind was blurred due to the direct blow from that huge fist a while ago, and Fattrovi found his mind stagnating for a long time. He had therefore fallen into a chaotic dream, but as the stars swirled in the body of the Celestial Giant, he slowly regained consciousness.
On the other hand, the owner of the Steel Fist did not maintain his offensive since the body of the Giant God was also broken and filled with scars. He had fallen, sprawled on the floor after that final bout, and there was nothing complete about his four-armed self: there were traces of burns from planetary flames, self-implosion of degenerate matter, distortion from psionic space, and disintegration of mass… many other injuries that escaped description were spread throughout his body as well, the scars inflicted by the simultaneous activation of a million Authority abilities.
Both sides had pummeled each other into trances, just as time was reversed many times, the earth hence reborn over. They now could no longer differentiate present and future, and fought solely through instincts.
They were no longer within the World Inner, but at the center of the physical realm of Simboa. The Soul Stars beyond the skies were dark and lightless, leaving a bare few flickering after Fattrovi rewound the past over a hundred times in the violent battle against his powerful opponent.
And now, it appeared that Destiny and Future had been defeated: the four-armed Giant God of Steel had risen again after a brief rest, starting towards the Celestial Giant that had fallen at the center of the Simboan continent.
Boom, boom, boom. There was a mountainous rumble over the earth with the Steel Giant’s every step, and it was actually after he had deliberately held back, or the entire continent would crumble otherwise. The odor of plasma wafted in the air, emanating the smell of blood.
The giant shrunk as he walked, just as the vast body of the Celestial Giant wafted away with the wind: the dark, unknown substances broke down by themselves and turned into pure soul energies, just as the stars in the bodies shifted and became real nebulas, floating to the skies above.
Both giants were human-sized when Joshua arrived in front of Fattrovi, with the latter’s maimed body spread on the ground. The crown upon his head was almost vanishing, but the Spiral Tower behind him kept standing thanks to time being reversed.
“So, I’ve lost.” The Time Turner muttered, looking upon the starry skies illuminated by the Void Vortex.
Fattrovi finally collected the broken pieces of his memories then, mumbling to himself quietly and nonchalantly. “Well, it was a possibility.”
Over the skies, the light of divine stars darkened. The fuel for the Observer System having been exhausted, the Time Turner no longer had the ability to observe the future once more. All illusions of possibility hence dispersed, while he had feebly evaded the attacks of the Foreigner from another world.
That was why he simply let things be, and awaited the final blow.
But the footsteps stopped—Joshua did not keep advancing.
Puzzled, Fattrovi opened his eyes to find a dainty figure before him: the figure of a small, girly Soul Puppet, standing before Joshua and blocking his advance.”
“You would protect time?” The warrior’s deep voice wafted, a gentle warning. “You are self-conscious. I would not attack you simply, but would crush you as well if you stand in my way.”
“Yes, I will protect Ruler.” The Soul Puppet’s serene, flat voice rang in response.
“To him, your kind are simply primers for guiding Soul Energies. He would not be able to control the stars of divinity otherwise, and create the Observer system.”
Fattrovi listened as his own enemy, the Foreigner, told the little Soul Puppet with a level voice about the truth—unlike himself. “You are but tools he created, for revenge and reshaping the world, useful and loyal toys.
‘Funny’, he thought. Soul Puppets were things without emotion, so to protect him was probably some base programming he embedded in passing… That puppet was designed personally by himself to aid in observing World Lines—what use is there to reason with them? The Foreigner is quite stubborn in certain nonsensical, just as how he would maintain his enmity against him to protect the livestock of souls.
Nevertheless, the little puppet answered solemnly.
“If the intent he created me is so that I would provide faith and be used, I am willing to believe in the ruler and be used.”
“Because he is our maker, our ruler.”
The indifferent Fattrovi who had been sprawled on the ground was at once stunned. He struggled to even sit up—his body was so broken that energy would spill out as blue fluids similar to blood, even if he lifted his hand. Even so, Fattrovi sat up, struggling to stand and exclaimed with a deep voice, “You’ve become defective products, too?”
“Follow your protocols. You should surrender at the first chance! I don’t need your protection!”
At that, the Time Turner who failed to stand turned toward Joshua, seeing the warrior’s human face for the first time although paying it no mind.
“What are you doing, driveling with a puppet?” He said quietly. “Give me the final blow!”
“You dare burn this world, and yet don’t have the courage to get past a Soul Puppet to kill me?”
Joshua, however, did not reply. He looked at the world of Simboa around him, while Fattrovi subconsciously followed his movements—what he saw was not a dilapidated world, burnt and eroded by Steel Strength.
Instead, Fattrovi saw a completely different continent.
Dust was descending from the skies, turning into new soil that piled upon barren lands. Plants were sprouting over the earth, icy water streaming down from mountains, flowing into the continent along rivers that had long dried up.
In the oceans, turbid pollution was cleansed gradually, and mutated creatures now swim amidst clear seas they had never seen before, unsure how the bygone environment that was both dangerous and familiar had changed to such a state. There were green leaves on muddy riverbanks, while little trees grew in the desert. With the power of a mysterious force that burned the Soul Stars, the silent world of Simboa rapidly recovered vigor, much faster than anyone would imagine.
“…You didn’t burn the world…”
Would Fattrovi not understand the truth now that things had come to this? Joshua did not destroy the world to absorb energies, but was simply using on the illusion of incinerating the world so that he would exponentially increase his consumption of Soul Stars, thereby exhausting his reserves. By fooling him into burning his own soul, the Foreigner reignited the Flame of the world and revived it!
Even so, an indescribable emotion made Fattrovi seethe, and he bellowed in rage despite his coldness in the face of death throughout his life. “I don’t need you to heal my power!”
With that anger, Fattrovi stood again despite his broken body, pale blue energy fluids flowing out incessantly from his body as he started towards Joshua after struggling to pull the Soul Puppet girl behind him.
“That had been their deserved judgment! They should have been tormented by the world they destroyed! On what grounds do you, an outsider, would shoulder their sins! On what grounds do you give reparations for those damned bastards!”
Joshua stared at the enraged Fattrovi—the real Fattrovi, who had thrown away his mask of the God of Futures and Ruler of Destiny, revealing his real thoughts and nature.
Indeed, the Simboans’ Ultra-power war had destroyed their own world, wiping out their own civilization and Order. As the most powerful Ultrahuman, Fattrovi had ended all chaos, subjugating dissidence and establishing ‘Order’ with the Soul Puppets at its core. He set the development of future civilization in place, anchoring the coordinates of Simboa and saving the world.
He was savior, but was ultimately an avenger, thirsting for retribution over everything, massacring billions of innocents.
“You’re wrong. This isn’t reparations.”
Joshua clenched his right fist and abruptly punched Fattrovi’s left cheek, the ruler having stood up in his intent to keep fighting. The tremendous force shattered his shell, spraying blue energy fragments and energy flow. Once again, Fattrovi was floored, and he did not stand up again this time.
Joshua panted, now as feeble as his enemy after that punch.
“It’s my oath when I ascended as Legend,” he said quietly in front of Fattrovi.
“I will shoulder everything, save everything and punish everything,” the warrior added calmly as he looked around the world of Simboa. “I did not heal the world for the Simboans, but for all life that had been or yet to be born. My fight against you is not just because you’ve killed billions, but because you have slain the world’s future, making Order and civilization your one-man game.”
“It is my duty. I have done what I should, but you’ve lost yourself.”
Joshua said with a solemn tone he never used before, at the great adversary that he never faced before. “You thought you’ve grasped destiny, but you’re just its prisoner.”
“When you lower your head and kept your gaze upon the past without reprieve, you would never truly gaze upon the starry skies and grasp the future.”
Fattrovi said nothing.
However, the illusory crown on his head was finally shattered.
Mysterious power unfurled across the world. At that moment, the World Barrier that kept Simboa isolated from the Void Vortex as well as the entire Multiverse rapidly diminished.
Beyond the world, the profound consciousness of both Steel Pythons Simboa and Karlis were together. They had seen how everything unfolded through the rifts torn open during Joshua and Fattrovi’s battle, witnessed time being flipped inside the world, as well as the unstable futures and pasts. They watched as world history and possibility tangled, Steel Flame swirling with the radiance of time.
They saw the history of civilization, the Simboans’ self-destruction and the birth of the Soul Puppets.
” It’s my fault.”
Simboa the Steel Python suddenly said. The visage of the World Will that was now mere spirit darkened, lowering its head despite not always too mindful of things, with something focusing and dropping in its crimson gaze.
“It’s my fault.” It repeated seemingly to either Karlis or itself, its voice gloomy as it shrunk into a coil. “I never once cared about the world, having only spectated live cycles and never doing a thing.
“I know that early Simboan civilization had endured all hardship, hence building an unusually strict civilization of Order… They never allowed any individual to escape collective restrictions, never permitted any distortion in development. They held doubt and ill-intent toward everything , because they would not have survived in the cruel world otherwise… It’s all my fault.”
“I never loved them, never aided them… They felt no love, which was why everyone saw others as hell.”
Karlis witnessed it all silently as well. It remembered the fallen civilization of Karlis, and the Avian warriors who fought the Evil Gods until the very last moment. It rejoiced that its Children did not destroy themselves, but remained sad that they left it behind.
But like Joshua said—it should be looking toward the future.
The refugees from Grandia were its new children. It should not overlook them, but encourage them, thereby reestablishing civilization and Order.
In the World Inner of Simboa.
The light of souls and time filled the starry sky and continent.
Destiny and future vanished from the silent world between flickers, while the battle between warrior and ruler finally ended.
Joshua raised the greatsword that formed in his hand.
The greatsword descended.
All sadness, despair as well as love and hope hence concluded.