“If only you had listened to me none of us would have died.”
“Hahaha. How could you fall for the easiest trick in the book?”
“The blood of your family is tasty, but how much better it would be if I used your skull as a chalice?”
A myriad of thoughts echoed and lingered within Luon’s mind. He could see the despair of many and the shattering trust of who he thought was friendly. His negligence and actions had caused the downfall of many of his friends and family.
“Stop! Just stop!” Luon screamed as he jolted himself awake. Breathing heavily he rubbed his hands against his face. It was warm, he was still alive.
Ever since he was betrayed by Opo, Luon began to have visions from the times Thanatos had been betrayed in the simulated world. He was afraid to sleep and would barely manage to squeeze in an hour at most during his time on the planet. It was like he was watching a cruel film that starred people who were significant to him in a horrific setting. Staying awake was the only way to avoid it.
Wiping his sweat away on his forehead, he found himself in a cavern. The mossy and damped walls felt cold and bleak, the atmosphere would have made him feel unsettled if it weren’t for the three things. The warm fire in the middle, the other being who was with him, and the fish impaled and roasted by the embers.
Luon stared at his saviour and evaluated him silently. Despite the orangish hue made by the fire, his skin was without a doubt blue. His body was slim but is forged and tempered with muscles, and the only thing he wore was a tattered cloth that protected his sense of dignity.
“You’re awake. It’s surprising to see a half-elf in this Inzektor filled planet. You must have been a part of the war that happened in the space above? Isn’t that right?”
The man plucked a fish stick and offered it to Luon, but Luon didn’t immediately accept it. It was strange enough that a person was still alive in this devastated planet. Luon feared that if he were to receive it, that he would end up as the next meal for the person in front of him. For all, he knew cannibalism could be a fad for desperate survivors.
“Hmm, well it’s not poisoned or unedible. More for me then,” said the man as started to eat the offering. Giving the meal a slight glance he stared at the man and asked, “Who are you?”
There were many questions that Luon had for the man, but the one that irked him the most was his identity. He had blue skin despite showing no signs of being a part of the Aqua Kingdom, and Luon couldn’t recall a race that looked like him. Everyone he had seen so far screamed fantasy, but the man before him made him think of one thing. An extraterrestrial being, a real Alien.
The man smiled at Luon’s remark as he replied, “Of course you won’t know who I am. In fact, I may be one of the last of my kind after all. The name’s Ner, and I’m a Tacar.”
Tacar. It was a race that Luon had never heard of before. The crazy thing was that the man claimed to be a mysterious race in a once civilized planet centuries ago. How come had no one had heard of it before? Ner sensed his doubts as he said, “Well I can’t prove my identity as I have nothing to show, so it’s better to take my word for it.”
“How come you’re still here? Have you ever thought about escaping?”
“What’s the point of escaping? The universe around us has filled with destruction and chaos all around. It’s meaningless to leave.”
“What do you mean?”
Luon grew curious at the man’s words, he must have known that Luon was part of the resistance group against Inzektors yet he proclaimed that even the Alliance wasn’t a safe place to be.
With a slight chuckle, Ner answered, “Between a place where Inzektors would roam or political world where the strong eats the weak, what difference does it make compared to living in the wild like this?”
Luon nodded, if he could he would love to live in a peaceful countryside if he didn’t have to worry about either Inzektors or political powers he would do so. Luon couldn’t help but recall his conversation with Arisa. However, he shook away the pointless thoughts as he realized that such an ending would only be an act of abandonment of his civic duties.
Fighting Inzektors was a great cause, his father and mother had done so. Luon wanted to pay them back by doing the same. They could have developed him without the use of the Vortex Container, yet they chose otherwise. Without strength, everything was meaningless.
Understanding where Ner was coming from Luon firmly proclaimed, “I see. Then can you help me escape back to the Alliance then? I’m sure that you already know the method to do so since you’ve been living here for I don’t know how many years.”
“Of course I’ve been here for a long time, and I do know how to escape from the planet. However, with your capabilities, I don’t think you’ll be able to accomplish it.”
“Just tell me the requirements.”
To Luon’s demand, Ner gave it some thought before sharing with what he knew with Luon. The hanger bay is located at the top of the large tower nearby. Currently, it is infested by a high-level queen equivalent to a level 85 being. However, even if he managed to slay it, Luon needed to quickly construct a workable starship while under the attack of wild Inzektors, some of which were level 80.
“An engineer and a combatant, no matter how good you are you cannot accomplish this by yourself.”
To Ner’s statement, Luon could only grit his teeth at the reality of things. He had a few robots to help him speed up the construction, and he has a few damaged designs from savaging buildings for the last couple of days as well as the ones he already had on hand. However, to build the ship while fighting Inzektors is a different story. He needed the support of another person.
Luon looked at Ner deeply, he knew what Luon was thinking and replied, “As I said before, it’s pointless to leave.”
“Even if I guarantee your safety?”
Luon couldn’t convince with words, and he didn’t want to get physical. From what he could see Ner is strong. To survive in an uninhabitable planet like this one would need to be much stronger than the rest of the beings around him.
Giving up, Luon asks, “What do I need to do to convince you to leave with me?”
“Let me ask you this, why would you want to leave?”
“Of course, to return back to my friends and family.”
“Friends and family, eh… what a nostalgic phrase.”
Ner’s voice faded out at the mention of friends and family, Luon felt that he had touched a sensitive topic, but before he could apologize, Ner said, “But my presence will only put you more at risk than before.”
Luon felt that the history behind Ner was quite profound. He didn’t want to pry into it, but since Ner brought it up himself Luon couldn’t help but ask, “What do you mean?”
“Why did you think humanity lost to Inzektors so quickly?”
“We were too slow to notice the development?”
“Close, but not close enough.”
At his remark, Luon’s curiosity got the better of him as he blurted out, “What do you know?”
Ignoring Luon’s query, Ner asks, “Do you like to read?”
“Of course I do, who wouldn’t?” Luon, the self-proclaimed omega bookworm, replied.
Ner nodded, as added, “I do too. In fact, my entire race did. We were known as the seekers of the truth.”
Seeing how he had caught Luon’s attention, he continued, “The lifespan of my kind lasts for centuries, and the knowledge we have learned is passed down using a special syncing technique using digital mind waves. It was our prided ability to share our thoughts with each other. We called it the ‘Golden Road.’ At first, we were like any other race, developing a civilization and progressing into space. At one point we discovered our planet was round, and many centuries later we found that space itself was circular.”
Luon looked at Ner as if he was a madman. How could space be round? It’s a 3-dimensional region that no concept of being round and there were countless stars yet to be discovered.
Ner chuckled at the look that Luon had given him, as he continued, “It makes no sense at all right? However, space itself is divided into regions which we the Tacars named as dimensions. To prove our theory we had continuously travelled the galaxy and mind sync with other Tacars. It took many generations to prove as our abilities continued to advance over time.”
With a proud look, Ner smiled at his ancestors. However, expression distorted to sadness as he continued with the subject.
“Eventually, when we had mapped the majority of the space using our memories as a catalyst. The majority of the Tacars divided themselves into their own field of research. Those who were adventurous retired to be known as the great elders, others became professors of their own field. We studied things such as medicine, weaponry, inherited skills and abilities, dimensional theories, and species biology.”
Luon felt that when Ner mentioned species biology, the atmosphere dropped a few degrees.
“They were all respectable on their own kind, every single one of us wanted to understand more and more. In particular, one of us ventured into genetic mutations but was scorned at the thought of alternating original DNA of unintelligent species. Like a castaway, the Tacar spent his life on a small planet far away from our homeworld. Although our mind syncing techniques help our ideals realign with each other, each of us has our own opinions of things.”
Luon whispered his conjecture, “That Tacar developed the Inzektor race.”
Ner nodded as said, “That Tacar did indeed develop the Inzektor race. While other species were unaffected by our technological advancement due to our non-intervention policy, the man turned a planet into the first Inzektor world, and by the time we took action, it was too late.”
“At first the man sent invitations about his discovery. Many of which declined to travel all the way to such a desolate planet to learn of what he had accomplished. Those who did were the first victims to the problem we have today.”
“It was a trap, the man had already been consumed by the very insect he had created, whether or not this was intentional, we don’t know. What we do know was that this created what we believed to be the leader of the Inzektor race. We later named it the Hivelord. Another notable thing was that when no notice came from the first group of invitees, other Tacars sought to find out more, and never returned. One day, one of our kind discovered the atrocity and notified the high council. With the consumption of our kind, its strength grew and so did it’s intelligence.”
“When it first took down one of our ships it had declared war on us using one our own communication system. It said, ‘Evolution is only the beginning, the realm we seek is an entirely new dimension.’ However, we were arrogant, with our technology and weaponry we believed it wasn’t a threat. But after consuming planet after planet, Tacar after Tacar did we finally notice that the extinction of our race was imminent. It was hunting us to increase his own strength.”
Luon who was digesting the information slowly then ask, “What was its goal?”
“After the Tacars had gone on to researching their own things, our overall goal hadn’t changed, to seek the world beyond our dimension. We believe that it has the same beliefs. By using the word evolution as the core of our thesis, we came to the conclusion that it’s seeking one thing.”
“Ascension, the goal of reaching level 100, a world that no one has ever reached.”