Chapter 89 – Escapades
“What the… Bord, is that you?” Angeta is sitting on a battered ship’s railing as disbelief paints her face.
“Yeah, awesome, right?” The beastkin tries to reply to that statement for a few seconds but can’t get a single word out of her mouth. Gaping like a fish, she huffs and turns around, closing her eyes again.
“Oooh, that looks pretty, somehow.” Selis comes bouncing into the clearing, all kinds of plant pieces in her hands and hair. “What intent is that? Triangular muscles?”
“Yep!” The boy in question proudly pats his flat belly with a massively thick arm. His previous flabby appearance has changed drastically, turning him into a low poly model of a greek god on a lot of steroids. His tree trunk arms stick out of a tattered shirt. He flexes, and the clothing rips even more.
“Neat!” Selis pokes the massive, triangular biceps. Her finger sinks into the soft flesh. She puts a bit more effort in her poking, and half her arm disappears inside Bord’s well defined but angular musculature.
“Stop that, it tickles.” Selis looks at him with a grin on her face as she continues to prod the transformed boy. The pale skin forms an intricate web of sharp lines that shape every inch of Bord into a triangular mesh. She pokes the bulging pecs and the clearly defined angular arm muscles.
“It looks hard, but it’s very soft, is this all fat?”
“Tsch, there’s muscles. A lot of it!” Bord poses his wobbling biceps into a truly impressive polyhedral flex.
“ENOUGH! Let’s test out how tough you are.” A snarling Angeta withdraws the green aura from the ship she is sitting on, jumps and lands before the chatting duo. Grass swirls around her as she forms an exoskeleton made from plants. The vibrant green dulls as every leaf gets a darker, wooden sheen.
Selis hurriedly flounces away, clearing the area. Bord sinks through his knees a bit, taking up a low stance as Angeta barrels into him. The trilateral covered boy quickly pulls back an arm and punches the grass-covered person in the stomach.
Every edge made from Bord’s skin glows with an inner light as the stresses of the punch get spread out across the supporting structure. Time seems to stand still as the two opposing bodies find a new equilibrium of physical force. Bord wins in the end, and the beastkin gets blown backwards in a shower of shredded leaves.
“TRIANGLES ARE THE STRONGEST!” Both hands in the air, Bord shouts out his victory.
“SHUT UP!” Angeta flies back into the clearing, a spiral-shaped vine behind her propelling her forward. She crashes into Bord before he has time to react.
I note with interest that the triangular shape of Bord’s fatty tissue oscillates and jiggles in a normal manner. As soon as the wobbling motion dies down below a certain threshold, it snaps back into a polygonal structure. Also, that’s the second time Angeta got punched out of her grass armour, let’s hope she learns from her mistakes.
I look on from my castle’s balcony, a huge chunk of jade in my lap. I might have underestimated this entire project by a fair bit, to be honest. I have an enormous amount of information inside my head, distilling it all down into a uniform format while keeping it accessible has turned out to be a challenge.
That is because I remember a lot. I have an enormous amount of memories. So much that I always doubted that they were all inside my head. The fact that I arrived here, stripped of all qi, with all my memories intact has confirmed that there must be some sort of external memory bank where I am storing them all.
I remember quite a lot of information from Earth, I reinvented a large amount of scientific knowledge to fill in the gaps, and I read an innumerable amount of books.
So I think that all that data is stored in my soul. I have talked about souls like I know a lot about them, that is not true. I know a bit about the connection my mind has with my soul. I don’t know anything about the soul itself. Messing with that connection can have dramatic consequences – ‘Armageddon’ dramatic -, but it is still only messing with the connection to the soul instead of the soul itself.
I suspect that the memory banks in my brain have a sort of dial-up connection to an energy construct in a higher dimension. Firing my memory neurons in specific patterns then provides the requested memory.
Back on Earth, there were stories about people who could remember every single day of their life. They could look back through every day, hour and minute of their life like flipping through a file cabinet. The brain is quite complicated, but storing such enormous amounts of data seems to break the laws of physics.
All the information I could remember was available for access even when I didn’t have a scrap of qi inside my head. My braincore simply allows me to access more of it at once. I am sure it will all become clearer to me once I reach a higher level universe or plane, but so far my experiments on the soul have been crude at best.
Long story short, compressing and archiving all that data into an easily accessible file format is quite the challenge. I have merged a lot of the smaller pieces of jade in my ring into a single whole, giving me a sizable amount of storage to work with.
So far I have linked and archived all the information that I found inside the library in the Capital. The head-sized chunk of green stone now contains a high school level of data in a sprawling web of knowledge. Currently, I’m working on an access system. I’m torn between making physical terminals or linking the database to smaller pieces of jade.
I wave my hand and the flying pieces of tree shooting towards me clatter off a quickly formed shield. Angeta has ripped a tree out of the ground and is trying to tenderize Bord. Without much success. He absorbs the physical force without moving a step, the rippling fatty tissue the only indication that he just got hit with the force of a speeding truck.
I quirk an eyebrow as the shattered tree reforms into a giant, Angeta hanging inside of its chest. So she did go for wood control intent, after all. Her previously vibrant green aura now has a darker, more sturdy feel to it. Bord’s aura feels weird, a combination of geometric abstractness and unmoving strength.
A large brown fist crashing down on Bord finally forces him to move a single step. He then twirls around, using the circular momentum to perform a gale inducing roundhouse kick. A single wooden leg shatters back into its individual splinters as Bord continues to whittle away at the splintered construct.
Selis is cheering them both on, water sloshing in intricate patterns as it follows her cheerleading dance.
“Go Bord! Go Angeta!”
“EAT SPLINTERS, FATTY!”
I want to focus back on my own project, but this entire scene is just too amusing. Angeta crashes through a tree as Bord waves his hand around.
“Ow, that hurt.”
“WOO GO BOOORD! That’s twenty-three to twelve. GO ANGETA!”
“COME HERE STUPID TREE.” *huff huff* “AND LAUNCH!”
Bord gets pelted by a hail of tree shrapnel as Selis takes cover behind a thick wall of water. Talking about trees, maybe I should make Tree the access point? It could keep a list of permissions and note down the progress people have made in studying the material provided.
I ignore the rampaging trio and decide to have a nice chat with Tree.
“DIIIEEE! DIE DIE DIE DIE!”
Vox is looking at his sister with a complicated look in his eyes. Ket pokes him in the arm. “She is wild.”
“Is this the effect Teach has on all of us?”
“I don’t know. Thinking is hard. I’m going to punch some things now.” Ket walks away, a blissful smile on his face. He pulls a metal brick from his ring, throws it into the air and punches it. It leaves a vapour trail as it smashes through a swordfish-like stone construct that just emerged from the rolling waves of earth.
“Ket, please go back to a braincore cultivation.” Ket doesn’t even glance back at Vox’s request and continues to shatter the sleek stone forms emerging from the dark waves, a stupid grin on his face.
Four humans and a rabbit move around in an enormous cave. The ceiling hangs high above a sea of moving dirt. All kinds of stone fish jump at the intruders, only to be dispatched in a wide variety of ways.
Tess is surfing the undulating earth, doing insane acrobatic tricks with a dull expression on her face. “Bored, so bored. So incredibly booooored.” Every move causes a torrent of black streaks to fly from her limbs in every direction.
Small knives made from pitch black qi fly everywhere, missing allies with calculated precision and every single one hitting a weak spot of the dungeon monsters. A few dozen more black streaks emerge from her feet as she handstands over a rock turtle that’s snapping at her ankles. Every black weapon scores a hit or bounces a falling mana shard into her direction. Most do both. A lot do even more in a single throw, their trajectory calculated with utmost precision.
She twirls again, becoming a dark blur moving too fast for normal eyes to follow. The movement ends in a triumphant pose on top of a breaching grey whale, her hands filled with brown shards of mana. Numerous black qi constructs fall from up high and strike around her feet. The whale freezes as cracks appear everywhere on the massive aquatic and moving stone statue. Tess rides the waves of disintegrating rocks downwards and continues to skate over the roiling soil, all the while stuffing solid mana into her ring.
“Calculating the least amount of force necessary for optimum stone breakage is too easy. I’m so bored. I hate having a braincore, I need to think way too much. LOLA, COME HERE PLEASE!”
A white bundle of fluff bounds towards the black haired girl, jumping into her arms while avoiding a mass of granite flying fish.
“Thanks Lola. I’m going to try a heartcore this time, cya later!” Tess touches the necklace around the rabbit’s neck and with a wave towards the others, she disappears.
Ket and Ares are now working together to reduce the stone fish into gravel. The redheaded girl is still shouting “DIE” at the top of her lungs every time her fist smashes through a dungeon mob. Ket is just giggling to himself while wacking a marble hammerhead shark in the face with a metal pole.
Vox scratches his head while looking at the spectacle. The surface of roiling soil under his feet explodes as a segmented stone tentacle attempts to wrap itself around him. A flash of blinding light later, he is standing on top of the emerging appendage while looking down.
“Speed is fine and all, I just have no attack power like this.” He disappears with another flash, landing next to the rampaging duo a split second later. “I’m going to try out another intent. Pure speed is useless for attack.”
“Weapon?” Ket utters a single word in between his giggling fit. The metal pole is now rammed up into a certain marble orifice and Ket is waving the shark around like a flag.
Vox looks at his ring as realisation dawns in his eyes. A curved sword with a long handle appears in his hand. He twirls it around experimentally, avoiding a shark exploding from the dirt waves in the meantime. Ket smashes the impaled shark against the newcomer and both stone creatures shatter into pieces.
“Crystals!” Ket once again only utters a single word before going ham on a stone turtle. Vox looks around and curses under his breath. He zooms away, barely preventing some mana crystals from disappearing under the brown waves.
“LET’S DO THIIIIIIIS!” A thunderous voice sounds through the large cave as Bord pops into existence above Lola. He looks around for half a second and jumps away. Soon three heartcore cultivators are going all out on the large variety of boulder-like animals.
Ket doubles over at the sight of the polygonal musculature that Bord is now sporting. Ares is still too busy with venting her frustrations on the dungeon mobs to take note. Vox rubs his eyes while groaning.
“Whatever, let’s go find out if speed works with weapons.” The redhead jumps away again, now occasionally splitting a monster in half while catching all the dropping crystals.
“Teach, can you make a shield like Vox made for me? I’m super, super duper bored like this.”
I look at Tess, who popped into existence right beside me. “Braincore not suited for you? You did try automating parts of your mind, right?”
She raises a single eyebrow in response. “Of course, but I still need to think a lot, or time goes by way too slowly. I want to try a shadow heartcore now.”
“Sure, go ahead. Just shout ‘up’ or ‘down’ when needed.” I form a qi repellent sphere near the edge of the clearing, and she hurries over. I can see the relief on her face as she empties all of her qi into the atmosphere.
“By the way, you formed that braincore with your own expelled qi, right?” She nods. “That boredom could be a side effect. Maybe try forming your heartcore with wild qi?”
“Too much work, I think I’ll stick to a gutcore in the end. I’ll form that one the old fashioned way, ‘kay?”
I shrug. “Do whatever you want.” I focus back on my brainstorming session with Tree. We are exchanging ideas on how to form a system that even super dumb people can learn from. Tree is the dumbest being here – well, maybe except for Bord – so it’s an excellent testing platform for ideas.
I rejected its suggestion to implant jade shards directly into the brain and a whole slew of even more morbid notions. “Nope, force feeding information is a great way to make someone brain dead. I am also not implanting your saplings in the poor saps, stop being so morbid.”
Tree gets even more confused. Morality is not something it has even a basic understanding of. “I also can’t bury a piece of myself to make more of me.”
I sigh, maybe Tree wasn’t the best brainstorm partner after all.