chapter 481: Creeping Closer

“Here.” A voice spoke up from behind an elven man in a white robe, briefly startling him. When he turned around, he saw a halfling woman holding out a small, styrofoam cup, steam rising above the rim.

“Thanks, Rin.” The man smiled, nodding as he took the offered cup. Rin moved over to sit at her terminal near him, studying the almost graph-like representation of the starry sky.

“Anything interesting happen while I was gone?” She asked with a knowing grin.

“Oh, yeah. Proxa three through five started dancing. Totally missed it.” The man laughed, shaking his head. “Nothing new so far tonight.”

Rin nodded, leaning back and staring at her screen, which was alternating between close up shots of various celestial bodies. “Ever wish you could actually get out there? See the stars up close?”

“Well, yeah. But the first warp expedition isn’t scheduled till next year. Even if I wanted to go, not much I can do about it for now.”

“That’s true. They get back to you on your application yet, Regas?” Rin glanced over towards the elf as she asked that, but was rewarded with a hollow sigh.

“Nothing yet. Mason from the second shift managed to get on, so here’s hoping.” Regas gave a helpless shrug as he said that. “I hear that Spica’s making a modified warp drive that uses their own system of magic as well, so maybe I’ll have better luck there.”

“Help a girl out if you do, will ya?” Rin smiled sweetly towards Regas. “They’re pretty harsh on their immigration laws.”

As the two joked, one of the screens near Rin suddenly flashed red. They quickly looked over at the screen in question, seeing a rather large rock drifting through space. Regas was the first to speak up, his brows furrowing. “I don’t remember any large meteors in that sector, do you?”

“Nope.” She rolled her chair over to another keyboard and entered in a few commands. “Weird, it’s not showing up on mana sensors. We only caught it through the optical scope.”

“Think it might be made of that Void Concealing stuff they have in Fyor? I hear it disperses the mana around it.”

Rin tilted her head at that. “Maybe. Let’s see where it’s heading.” After typing away at her keyboard for a few moments, a new graph appeared to display the meteor’s trajectory. “Looks like it’ll be a pretty close one…”

Regas let out a low whistle when he read the chart. “Yeah, we’ll need to report that one. Best be prepared with the defense grid.”

Rin chuckled, shaking her head as she began drafting up the email. “Saving the world, one giant rock at a time.”

As she was writing the email, she would occasionally glance towards the screen which displayed the meteor in order to get accurate readings of its size and speed. Which was why she was so surprised when she looked up and saw… nothing. The screen which had shown the meteor on a near-collision course with Earth had simply vanished.

“Regas…?” She asked her partner, who had already gone back to sipping his coffee while watching his own terminal.

“Yeah? Need help with something?”

“You could say that. I’m not crazy, right? We saw a big rock just a second ago, right?” When Rin asked that, Regas had a sinking feeling in his gut, looking over and catching sight of the now-empty screen.

“Check the coordinates. Make sure the telescope didn’t shift. Could be nothing…”

Rin gave a hasty nod, linking up with the orbital telescope. “Angle’s good. No collision detected that would knock it off. Doing a wider scan now–my goddess…” Rin’s eyes went wide suddenly, and she began to type away again.

When Regas looked over, he saw that the meteor had been found, so he wasn’t quite sure what she was upset over. Until, that is, he saw the sector coordinates displayed at the bottom corner of the screen. “Wait, isn’t that…”

Rin had already sent the email, rising up from her seat and moving towards a blue spherical crystal embedded in the wall. “Emergency communique, please put me through.”

A small pulse of mana rolled out from the crystal, washing over her face before pulling back. Afterwards, the energy formed into a circle. After a few moments of waiting, a figure appeared within the circle. A golden-haired kitsune with faintly shining eyes.

“What is the emergency?” She asked, cutting straight to the chase.

“Ma’am.” Rin nodded her head. “Moments ago, we detected a large meteor, roughly Delune-sized within the system. After confirming that the meteor did not appear on mana scans, we estimated it to be on a course that would have it just missing Earth.”

“You wouldn’t use this line for a near miss.” The kitsune said, raising an eyebrow.

“Correct. As we were submitting the report, the meteor… moved. It advanced along its path considerably. In doing so… it is now on a direct collision course with Earth.”

The kitsune froze up at that, her face becoming serious. “Give me a timeframe.”

“Ma’am, according to the computer, it will arrive within two days.” Originally, the rock had been at least a full week away from the planet, which would have given Earth plenty of time to naturally move out of its path. Now that it had advanced so much closer, such a thing wasn’t an option. “If it vanishes again… it could be here at any moment.”

Terra and I sat down at the dining table with Ryone, Bihena, Aurivy, and Leowynn. In front of us was a collection of cards, Keeper’s Cards to be exact. Given that I had only just finished my excursion to the mortal coil, we decided to play a game to relax.

“Let’s see… this battle will be between…” Aurivy started to speak up as she hit the button on her own interface, readying the battle phase. Everyone at the table had a card appear in front of them, two each of yellow, blue, and red. Aurivy held a blue card, and smirked mischievously as she saw me holding the matching blue card. “You and me, bro.” She looked down to her own card, seeing the image of a sword on it. “And I’m attacking.”

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We were still in the early stages of the game at this point, so nobody had been eliminated yet. It also meant that we hadn’t had as much time to build up powerful decks. I simply offered her a small smile, confident in my defenses.

Keeper, hear my prayer. At least, I was, until I heard a familiar voice speaking into my mind. My eyes went wide with shock, having not received an actual prayer since Leowynn died.

Only allowed on

“Just a second, Aurivy…” I spoke, closing my eyes and focusing. Tsubaki. What is it?

I fear that your world may yet be at risk. A meteor has been sighted, now on a direct collision course with Earth. Its size is roughly comparable to Desbar’s moon, ensuring that it would do a substantial amount of damage, possibly on a global scale.

Immediately, I pulled up a mental map, zooming out from Earth. It didn’t take me long to find the meteor in question. It was… massive was an understatement. “Terra… why didn’t I get a system prompt for this?” I knew from experience that the system would warn me whenever any natural disasters were on the horizon that threatened a significant percentage of my population. ‘All of Earth’ seemed like it should qualify there…

“Hmm?” Terra blinked, before focusing. “Oh. Oh my. Sorry, after that whole thing with James, I’ve been kind of out of it. Let’s see… according to this, you weren’t given a warning because the matter was destined to be discovered by mortals, and it is within their collective power to avert the disaster.”

“How can they– right… gods.” I muttered, shaking my head. The sheer scale of the meteor had me slipping back into my old mentality. Tsubaki, you have my permission to act. If need be, request the assistance of Jonas, as well as the dungeons. Between the three of you, it should be entirely possible to ensure the safety of the world.

…I shall do as you wish, my Keeper. Tsubaki spoke solemnly before ending the prayer.

Just to be safe, I glanced over towards Ryone. “Would you mind keeping an eye on the situation, making sure it doesn’t get too bad?” Although Terra said that the system evaluated it as ‘possible to avert’… that didn’t mean that they would necessarily be safe in doing so. It could be possible that they had the power to divert the meteor at the cost of their lives.

Ryone hesitated for a moment, before giving a firm nod. “Sure. I’ll step in if things look too bad.”

“That might not be such a good idea, Dale.” Terra spoke up. In my mental map of the meteor, I could see it zooming in, and a geological survey was displayed. “The material that meteor is made out of… it’s a sort of natural counter to Ryone.”

“Similar to the Void Concealing Stone, it obscures the mana that enters its territory, preventing it from being located through magical means. However, it’s not quite the same substance. If I had to give it a name… I’d call it the Void Traveling Stone.”

Aurivy’s eyes went wide at that, just as she was picking her cards to use in the game against me. “Wait, does that mean…”

Terra simply nodded her head. “Whenever it obscures the mana around it, it actually devours that mana, fueling a short-distance teleport. If Ryone were to act, with her powers focusing heavily on magic, it is likely to trigger another teleport. There is the chance that the meteor could appear out of harm’s way… but it could also teleport inside of the planet, and shatter it from within.”

Don’t use any magic on the meteor! I called down to Tsubaki immediately, relaying Terra’s words. Don’t even let them scan it anymore. Mana triggers its transportation effect. Make sure that Tower knows to restrain his mana aura.

Understood, my Keeper. Tsubaki spoke up, this time with a far more relieved tone than previously.

“So…” Ryone spoke up. “I’ll leave the reinforcement to Ashley. But, when that thing gets blown up…” There was an almost sparkling look to her eyes, making it clear what she wanted to ask.

I spoke up with a faint sigh, agreeing to her unspoken request. “Yes, you can have as much of it to study as you want.”

“Yes! You’re the best!” Ryone bounced in her seat happily, grinning from ear to ear. She always loved to study minerals that had magical properties, so this ‘disaster’ was like a treasure to her, offering itself up for her to unravel.

Thankfully, and I did make sure to check this, there weren’t any creatures living on this meteor or anything like that. We didn’t want Earth to turn out like Eingard, after all. A world ravaged by monsters brought from the furthest corners of space…

In the worst case scenario, a common meteor like that is something that I should be able to forcibly move if I descended to take care of it. I might even be able to do so through the Keeper interface. However, thinking about Tsubaki rising into the air to confront the meteor… it made me flash back to the dream that I had during my time as Clover. The dream that Nyx had given me.

It was just a bad feeling, I knew, but I still didn’t like it. Probably because it made me remember everything I saw in her memories, or how she had set up a scene to watch me ‘destroy’ my own world. Either way, I was suddenly wishing for this meteor to face the most unpleasant of endings.

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