Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Fort Pioneer was located at the edge of the galaxy, a chain of Void fortresses composed of many temporary research centers and large-scale observation facilities.
The colorful research centers and the ring of observation equipment coupled revolved around a rather uninteresting silver planet. The entire facility itself was built jointly by the various factions of the Mycroft Continent by absorbing the information and experience from Fort Glory and the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds. Although most of it was operating in the Void for the first time, all of it had performed perfectly.
The outer circle of the fortress cluster was a stair-shaped Void observatory used for studying other galaxies, the inside of which was prism-shaped research points where data from the observatory was and otherworld information was analyzed. Both buildings that were completely different in both scale and design fitted together like gears, presenting the entire Void Fortress in an unusual aesthetic.
And within a special white Void facility at the edge of the fortress cluster, a race of eight-legged fungi that were a mix of black and gray were crowding around a single white one, waiting in the hall.
The white one had lifted its enchanted senses and ‘looked toward’ the sights of Void outside the window, maintaining its silence.
The Great Khan was thinking about its race’s past and future.
The Starherders were a race of mixed fortunes.
Naturally, those words were not too meaningful for which civilization had not experienced mixed fortunes? Still, civilizations that had existed long enough to reach out for the Void must definitely have gone through much turmoil and calamity—no civilization in the world could progress without war or competition, and since both civil wars and fighting against other race would strengthen oneself, there should be no lack of strife.
Be that as it many, the Starherders remained a race that had lived through excessively mixed fortunes.
Even before they had completely developed Void technology, they were forced to evacuate their homeworld.
The Great Khan remembered that day until now.
As unimaginable dimensional presence tore the World Barrier apart, the constantly dull skies in the homeworld of the Starherders was suddenly illuminated by fiery light. It was a phenomenon caused by the simultaneous firing of energy projectiles from thousands of Void warships—the stream brighter than the sun drew streaks of blinding blue trials over the planet’s yellow-gray sky, and in a split second, infinite energy beams and missiles rained down on the ground like meteors, easily destroying every Starherder defensive system.
And what followed right behind what was cannon fire from other civilizations was an invasion of Chaos. Countless Eaters were staying right behind the flames raining down from the skies, descending upon the world to devour and destroy everything.
The Starherder civilization, unwittingly drawn into a battle between a certain advanced civilization against the World Eaters fell instantly, the shockwaves and stray missiles reducing an entire civilization’s future into nothingness.
At the time, being one of the greatest beings of their own race, the Great Khan had incidentally been in an exchange with a docile Void Behemoth. The Starherders hoped that it could spare some of its flesh, and in exchange, their civilization would provide the high-energy minerals it favored—a win-win for both as they obtain what they needed.
Being a race that mastered the aspect of soul, the Starherders could soothe the Void Behemoth’s unfathomable temperament. Having already made many deals with beings from the Void, this particular occasion was mundane—but unlike before, the Great Khan realized in despair that its own civilization might perish in their homeworld. However, it also had a sudden inspiration, remembering sharply that the Void Behemoth’s body had a cavity that was massive enough for normal lifeforms.
However, before they could think or plan, the continent was sinking and the mountains burning. As the shockwaves from the battle between the advanced civilization and the World Eaters destroyed the world, the Great Khan made the only choice it could.
It devoured the soul of the Void Behemoth, did it best to shelter citizens in its body and fled their home in a panic.
Thousands of years passed.
The Starherders that had lived in paranoia like refugees in the body of Void Behemoths became their namesake.
They herded the Behemoths, forging worlds over their backs, using planets and continents as pastures, earth crust, and magma being their grazing grasses. They pastured upon the galaxies, recuperating and reproducing over millennia to strengthen themselves immeasurably, the dozens of Void Behemoths and monarchs granting them power beyond the fleet that had destroyed their home planet. They could even perpetrate the tragedy that had befallen them—their race did not mind threatening other civilizations with planetary destruction so that they would offer the knowledge and resources they require.
The champion which had shouldered an entire civilization by itself and truly grasped the soul of all Void Behemoths was even less worth mentioning. Before the pioneer who had distributed and planted its own soul in every Void Behemoth’s body and suppressing the bulk of their soul from resurrecting, every eight-legged fungi would earnestly bend their stems and cry out its name, the ‘Great Khan’. Its power approached the pinnacle even in the entire galaxy, its name spreading to the very edge of the galaxy.
Recalling its labors in the past few millennia and dragging its civilization to rise from dire straits, even leading them to prosperity, the fungal cap of the white eight-legged fungus flashed slightly, revealing its stirred heart.
In the end, that light dimmed as it sighed heavily at the depths of its own soul.
But what use has that been? Ultimately, the Starherders were simply losing… And it was not on a single occasion. They had fled their Farms endless times, evading the terrible beings that wandered the Void.
There seemed to be no sacred grounds even within the galaxy that was so vast it appeared boundless. No matter how deep they did or how far they fled, the darkness would follow them like shadows, pursuing them.
“The thin veil of peace has been broken. Our home galaxy is naught but scorched, countless civilizations abandoning the balance and Order they hung on so bitterly for, thus trampling and slaughtering each other… I would not have the Starherders, a civilization that barely survived until now to be destroyed like weeds in meaningless battle. Therefore, I seek any little clue I could for the Lost Galaxy from the ancient texts, pursuing a single sacred ground in the dark Multiverse.”
Even these sacred grounds were ruins left from a much more terrible battle in the distant past.
Sighing deeply once more, the fungal cap over the Great Khan’s head presented the red-black color of a ‘bitter smile’.
Who could have imagined that the Lost Galaxy that was calm, ordinary and desolated was much more dangerous than worlds beyond!
How long has it been since they had crossed the zone of matter vacuum when they actually encounter an ancient World Eater’s awakening! And yet, it was the Forerunner champions that proved more horrifying—two of them were already enough to subjugate one World Eater!
It was an utterly terrible thing even if the World Eater had been weak, having just awakened from its seal and had no minions with it. After all, even advanced civilization that rules the Void would have to be prudent if they intend to stop one World Eater’s intrusion, even preparing an escape route like the Starherders did. Those calamities that wandered the Void could easily destroy every life in a world, with no firepower and magic capable of such utter destruction no matter how powerful.
In fact, the reason the Starherders had run away from their original galaxy was because the World Eaters were increasing. There were almost none in the first place—only the civilization with cases of terrible fortunes would encounter them. Nevertheless, their numbers grew by the day starting centuries ago, their very presence destroying certain weaker civilizations and laying waste to the already fragile balance in the galaxy, the latter which had wrought chaotic flames of war.
The civilizations of Order fought each other just as they repelled the invasion of Chaos, while weaker civilizations were callously destroyed as if leaves in a typhoon, while stronger civilizations like the Starherders could only flee in panic.
Now, it appears that they had fled into the maw of an ancient. slumbering beast.
At the very thought, the Great Khan turned towards the hall of the Void fortress.
After that powerful and ruthless Forerunner champion had slain the awakened World Eater, the entire Starherder civilization had been arrested by other Forerunner champions to the vicinity of the dark planetary region from leaving.
While the Forerunner champions that showed up were not many—at least less than the Starherders’ twenty Void Behemoths, the Great Khan remained away that the young ones they have on hand could never stand up against the champions who possessed wisdom and formidable skill. With his side positioned in an absolute disadvantage and coupled with his need to recover, they could only obey and wait by the edge of the galaxy.
Still, through the course of their interaction, it became sharply aware that the Forerunner civilization appeared to be in a special state.
The ancient civilization that called themselves the ‘Mycroft civilization’ unquestionably command unbelievably formidable technology. According to the news they received in exchange, their native world is located at the depths of the Lost Galaxy and extremely far from the edge of the galaxy—their powerful dimensional magic, however, would instantly cover that distance seemingly without cost.
Their Void fortress technology was very advanced too. Although they appeared not to understand much about the technology they themselves used, it was certainly far progressive and cutting-edge compared to the fortresses of the advanced civilizations they encountered in their native galaxy.
The champions were even less worth mentioning—each of them wielded unimaginable ability, even individual firepower to destroy worlds with the support of the Great Mana Tide. Any one of them was equivalent to one Void fleet, with it appears that there were seven more majestic powers known as ‘divine spirits’ supporting their powerful leader who commanded the sacred light. Indeed, the Great Khan believed that that particular champion could wipe out every Starherder by himself, and the Great Khan itself could hardly run or resist.
It appears that the Forerunners were still in a lost and idling state just a while ago. Through the exchange over half a year, the Great Khan was positive that Mycroft had been stagnating in their homeworld as they imagined with no desire to develop externally. It was also why they never noticed any anomalies in the Lost Galaxy over the last dozen thousand years.
But recently, that slumbering ancient civilization awakened.
They had cleared all differences amongst their own, restored their broken World Barrier and rekindled the Flame of their civilization as well as recovering long lost dimensional hubs and archives. They had begun to expand outward once more, intent on reclaiming ancient glory and undoubtedly cleaning up their own galaxy while suppressing every lingering threat such as World Eaters. Their eyes were not limited to their homeland, and were even directed to the endless worlds the Great Khan’s race had been to.
They could be seen repairing grand scale Void observatories and building fortresses at the edge of the galaxy, assembling a fleet and consolidating their power. The Great Khan believed that the expanding Void fortresses were not merely a demonstration, for ‘Mycroft’ definitely intend to step out of the Lost Lands and return to the stage of the Multiverse.
And they were quite simply the first unlucky bastards who overrated themselves.
“How should we fight the awakened Forerunner civilization?”
Being the leader of a civilization that had journeyed across the galaxies for millennia, no such folly would appear in the Great Khan’s mind.
“How to lick the boots of the Forerunner civilization and convince them that their ranks were definitely sincere in working together?
Such was the problem an actual leader of a civilization should think of.
Against a being that his own civilization would never stand up to or escape, it should think of every idea it could to join their ranks, to become a champion as well.
The Great Khan had been considering that problem all along, thinking about how its own ends could be achieved.
Be that as it may, it was regrettable since Mycroft was reacting unusually lukewarm. Though they might not show clear hostility against the Starherders, they certainly stayed vigilant against them as if they were untrustworthy foreigners. Even when both sides intended to interact, they kept probing each other, leaving the present situation ever impossible to unravel.
Therefore, when the Great Khan learned that the Forerunner champion who had fought against it back then and had recovered after self-destructing to subjugate the Evil God, it suggested the condition to enter an exchange with him.
It is exactly because they had fought each other, collided and consumed each other’s souls that the Great Khan knew beyond any doubt that he was a true champion who never goes back on his word or played fancy tricks.
The perspective brought by battle was far more reliable than any verbal exchange.
Therefore, it waited for the other’s arrival.
The Great Khan, which had its eyes watching the sights of the Void beyond suddenly turned its fungal cap, gazing at an empty position of the hall with its sensitive light cum magical energy sensory organ.
A fraction of silver light was flickering there, just like starlight from afar.
But soon, the faint silver light that normal individuals would never sense turned into a vortex of warped dimensions. Boundless Steel Strength turned into a cascading tide that gathered from every direction, solidifying.
Nearby, the silver world at the center of the fortresses and observatories was emanating with generous light.
The fungal cap on every black and gray fungus which had been on guard duty began to change colors intensely, just as a sharp siren echoed, indicating the highest level of alerts.
The white eight-legged fungi, however, merely lifted its own appendages—and the hall was silenced at once.
In the very next moment, it strode towards the silver vortex without any hesitation. At the same time, a clone condensed entirely out of pure Steel Strength appeared simply at the center of the energy vortex and stood in the hall.
“Nice to meet you, Great Khan of the Starherders.”
“Nice to meet you, Galactic Protector, Slayer of Evil God.”
The black-haired man who had appeared nodded slightly at the white fungus, just as it shifted the colors on its fungal cap in greeting.
And right after that brief greeting, Joshua, who was more acquainted with the Great Khan than anyone else and was aware of its thoughts and intentions asked the Great Khan a question straightaway.
“Before we work together, Great Khan, please describe in detail the galaxy you were dwelling in and the circumstances surrounding it.”
Joshua, never one for nonsense, gave neither preamble nor sweet words. He stared at the Great Khan’s body even as he spoke forthrightly.
“If your kind is so powerful, why would you flee your homeland so fearfully to come to this Lost Galaxy?”