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Soul of Searing Steel (Web Novel) - Chapter 957: The Praying Stars

Chapter 957: The Praying Stars

This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

[Child.]

[I still vividly remember the moment you were born.]

In an artificial nursery with an average temperature of approximately thirty degrees, a massive white egg case was placed upon a flat wool insulating nest. Surrounding the egg case were many of its shriveled brethren—amongst the dozens of brothers and sisters, only a single egg case had successfully cultivated a lifeform. With a rustling sound, a bizarre insect that resembled a cicada’s larva or an ant broke through the egg case and climbed out from within, the thin membrane over its eyes yet to peel off, preventing it from seeing the world.

To obtain a more stable and excellent individual form along with formidable and widespread intelligence, the Tanyans had abandoned the incredible fertility of their ancestors and rapidly mutating genes. Instead, they made their choice to lower their breeding rate to the level of common mammals, and at the price of having only one out of dozens of egg cases surviving, they obtained a body that was much more robust, a brain, and the natural ability to tap into Psi.

The larva appeared to be shocked when the massive doors to the artificial nursery opened and attempted to return to the refuge of its egg. However, that was when two agile tendrils reached out to gently pick it up—the solar lights had kept the environment illuminated, dyeing the newborn life with a thin golden layer of silk.

Changing perspectives, the bright solar lights became a genuine star, its flashing light a blinding radiance of vacuum. Thus, a convoy of complete warships, mostly intact though with several being heavily damaged, darted through the emptiness of the universe.

The fleet was composed of three different warship styles. One had an insectoid exoskeleton design, while another resembled florals and fruits—or indeed a living warship grown than built. The third type—also the style fewest in number—were ordinary metal warships.

Either way, the strangely mixed fleet, which belonged under a single banner, was streaking through a planet system and making a beeline for the inner orbit.

“Alert! Spawns of Chaos!”

An inorganic voice hailed from the communication channel. The orbital edge that the fleet had already passed was filled with the wrecks of many warships and corpses of unusual, aberrative lifeforms. The wrecked ships consisted mostly of the insectoid exoskeleton vessels, while the aberrations were of diverse forms—they were warped, malicious and filled with all sorts of insignificant but absolutely dangerous tumors and bacteria, their very existence seemingly symbolizing absolute Chaos.

Then, the cold mechanical voice spoke again, “They may be lurking in the wrecks. All hands, attention—vaporize them!”

At the sound of the order, the fleet synchronously armed their weapons. Barrels of psionic wave cannons began to condense photons as burning psionic flow that could vaporize most substance gathered.

Silver blue light flashed, and then exploded.

The vast psionic beam that was as long as a trial of stars instantly reduced warships and aberrations into nothingness. Likewise, countless younglings of Chaos that lurked within screamed silently in the Void, before dying in the light.

[Time flies. I’ve already forgotten the time I lived by your side.]

[Even so, I have to leave—for the stars, for the races, and for our own world.]

In the azure skies, the huge larva which grew slowly—or in other words, a young Tanyan—was using psionic powers to fly unsteadily in the air, even frequently making mistakes. However, a pair of huge, gentle tendrils would constantly reach towards it and fix its flight path, and soon the larva learnt to fly.

It, or ‘he’ was pleased. Holding the small larva in a tendril embrace, both entities looked up towards the stars, where one star was dying after another in the vast oceans of stellar bodies. The stars were dying visibly in the dark universe, just as how the main batteries of the warships ignited and slowly incinerated the carnage.

The mixed fleet had escaped the galactic battle zone only to reach a broken fort. In the orbits of the gas giants, the wreck of the trapezoidal fort was 14,000 kilometers in diameter—a planetary fort in its truest sense. Its distinct armored form, along with the interior style of its broken sections revealed that the fort and insectoid warships shared the same origins.

“Scout spheres detaching, searching for survivors!”

The cold mechanical voice sounded at the edge of the fleet. Rows of corvettes marched, ports opening on their bottom hulls as small metal spheres shot out, igniting with psionic light and streaking towards the trapezoidal fortress.

Soon, one reply after another echoed.

“Report, no survivors found.”

“They’re all dead. It only fell three months ago, damn it! If only we had arrived earlier!”

“At least the Chaos minions have been repelled. The operation ‘Great Turnaround’ has been a great success—they have been forced out from this quadrant.”

As the noisy information exchange rang throughout the channels, a cold mechanical voice spoke, overlapping every other voice.

“Destroy it.”

A massive G-shaped warship more than twenty-five kilometers in diameter stood at the center of a fleet, with its bow armed with a psionic gathering port. A grey-white intelligent creature resembling a massive cicada and advanced in years stood on the command post, his tendrils flailing. The mechanical voice had spoken from the translator crystal on his chest and was relayed to the entire fleet.

“Destroy it,” the old Tanyan repeated, “attack the Fifteenth Zone—the lower half of the fortress where the energy reactor had been, and leave not a single spot of Chaos.”

Therefore, light converged and radiated once again, shooting straight and stabbing directly into the energy reactor in the 15th Zone.

In the blink of an eye, blinding light shone. An incomparably violent detonation erupted without a sound, and the planetary fortress disintegrated amidst the shockwave, crumbling into massive pieces of debris that finally broke in the fiery radiance, reduced to dust amidst the stars.

The fleet, however, stayed unaffected by the little explosion.

They simply kept advancing.

[I’ve promised that I’d definitely protect you. I’m a great hero who would definitely return in triumph.]

[All will be well.]

The light from the fortress explosion washed over the fleet like tide, but the psionic shielding on the surface of the ships intercepted it just like reefs. The old Tanyan looked upon the vacuum and the sun as if time had reversed to a dozen years ago, to a moment where he carried a child over his shoulders and strolled over the shores, both of them watching as their footprints were washed cleanly away by the seawater, their tendrils dancing simply and happily.

The scene where the sun was reflected over the seawater resembled this very moment… the shockwave from the explosion burst away, strong solar winds that stirred dazzling, dreamlike halation.

Even as the halation kept its pursuit, the fleet advanced to the edge of an azure planet.

There were even more shipwrecks, corpses of Chaos spawn, and fortress ruins there—in this place, one would have distinctly felt that Chaos was not far away, lurking in numbers nearby within the very corpses of the Chaos spawn.

However, upon another cool order, the advancing fleet energized another translucent layer of bounded field—within the reach shrouded by the ethereal light of the so-named Barrier of Order, all Chaos briefly lost all vigor or were simply reduced to nothingness. The advanced technology, invented by another elite civilization on Stellaris and freely provided to other civilizations, effectively curbed the spreading and infection of Chaos, on condition that the barrier emitter had sufficient output.

Meanwhile, the Tanyan captain moved slowly to the forefront of the bridge. No one stopped him, with some of the crew even quietly leaving their positions to allow the imposing and respected commander to clearly see the nearby azure planet.

Even with the naked eye, the commander could see that the planet resembled bread covered in mold. Its azure shade, though still perceptible, was already covered with dense dark green mold.

And the spots where the mold covered were incidentally the most populated regions of the planet.

“…Attempt communication.”

His tendrils dancing, the translator on his chest did its job dutifully as formless low frequencies that compounded with psionic energies echoed in the atmosphere. “Try every frequency—don’t give up on any single one of them.”

Having heard their orders, the other crewmembers certainly would do their best. Noisy hailing of all sorts rang at once throughout, filling the once quiet bridge with various exaggerated contents and trivial words.

On the other hand, despite all the bustling and shouting, the Tanyan commander did not move at all. He simply watched the familiar azure planet and the dark-green mold spots that kept enlarging… as a powerful psionic, he could no longer sense any single independent consciousness or psionic presence on the planet.

Whether it had been a continent or ocean—all light had died from the planetary surface on the other side of the sun.

The radiance of civilization had been extinguished.

There was no answer from any frequency.

“Commander…”

Eventually, there was no more hailing. Every frequency fell silent, and a humanoid plant lifeform who was wearing the First Mate standard hesitantly approached the Tanyan Captain, pausing as he was about to speak.

“There’s no response or signs of life,” he eventually said with a quiet voice. “My condolences, Commander.”

“Tanya has fallen.”

***

[I swore to do everything in my power to protect everyone, even if it means sacrificing myself.]

[I’ve once sworn so.]

Infinite soul fragments surged across the river of souls, with screams of emotion leaping like fishes off the water, whereas rage, misery and despair crashed into the surface and stirred waves in the soul. There was much recollection—the first feeding, the first crawl, the first word, the first mumbling of ‘mum’ and ‘dad’… there was also the first flight, claiming first place in the first academic year, and leaving for the central academy for further studies…

Too many first times, including that particular one… before leaving, the cicada that was now as large as its father had flipped its tendrils, linking and rubbing them to emit a tiny signature.

“I love you, daddy.”

It was his first mention of love to his parents. Seemingly embarrassed, he hurriedly added, “You must win and come back safely!”

“Of course.”

That had been his voice—confident, filled with purpose, the great sense of duty crushing the trace amounts of disquiet for momentum to persist in his advance. “I am a hero.”

***

Silence.

There was only silence in the bridge and the communication channel.

Everyone had quieted. The noisy orders, the banter amidst the pain, and the voice of each captain scolding their crew were all gone—the Void fleet simply suspended upon the gravitational balance point of the planet.

Nevertheless, their stillness did not mean that the planet would have remained still as well. The little mold spots spread across Tanya had suddenly began to shrink and wiggle, with countless miniscule but dense spots of green ejecting out of the moldy clusters.

Those were newborn spawns of Chaos.

It was the aim of the Evil God of Pestilence when it eroded the planet—every organic substance would not be spared, but be assimilated instead. Chaos indeed ate away at all things, although it simply prioritized living creatures.

From the perspective of psionic individuals, a planetary-sized cicada silhouette was being bound by all sorts of mold and tentacles on Tanya itself, struggling, trembling, flapping its wings but never escaping… it was the composite of all intelligent souls, psionic energies, and supernatural energies of the planet, bound by Chaos and slowly corrupted.

And it was now the raw material with which the Evil God of Pestilence would create a Void Mother.

In that very moment, the Tanya Commander’s tendrils that had froze for sometime swayed. His voice, very cold and mechanical, spoke quietly.

“Execute purging protocol.”

“Commander…”

Beside the huge inside, the Midgardian resembling a plant raised his hand as if intending to dissuade him, but ending up saying nothing and only sighing.

In his eyes, the psionic signature of the Tanyan commander had changed from silver blue to blood red. “Destroy it,” the mechanical voice that was calm to the point of depressing repeated, the Tanyan commander motionless apart from his tendrils. “That place is now the domain of Chaos.”

In the emptiness of the universe, the mixed fleet slowly dispersed while the massive G-shaped warships moved forward slowly to hover directly above the planet. The vessel transformed, stretching its hull which had contracted and became a straight, colossal inverted cross. And by the lower tip of the cross, the port of the psionic crystal began to gather light that was infinitely focused.

“Shoot.”

Light converged and promptly burst forth—under the command of the cold mechanical voice, a ray comparable to the Milky Way hence descended, shooting straight into the oceans of the planet.

***

The surface of the now-polluted coastal borders of planet Tanya used to be a place where many Tanyans once enjoyed their vacations and had been filled with countless laugher.

It was also a place where a father and son had a stroll, and gazed upon the stars in the skies.

But now, the once beautiful shores only had clumps of corrupted organic composites that resembled seaweed and mud.

A bright beam like no other shot down at the very heart of the ocean.

Firstly, there was silence.

Then, it grew into a rumble that was deafening, oppressive and profound.

Ka-booooom!!!

A titanic tsunami dozens of miles long and vapor burst away from where the beam had descended. The atmospheric cycle of the planet was instantly shattered, and the planet’s very form resembled a broken egg, the steaming vapors its yolk that kept flowing away.

Even from the emptiness of space, distinct ripples could be seen spreading to every corner of the world, breaking mountains and destroying cities, engulfing the dense virgin forests that were now all but polyps, and cleanly washing away every remnant of civilization and Chaos.

Naturally, those ripples were completely engulfed alongside the corrupted beach.

Everything was destroyed.

In space, the core of the planet had been detonated by the exceedingly focused psionic beam and gradually disintegrated into planetary debris. It would have kept crumbling in millennia to come, eventually becoming an asteroid belt dozens of millennia later.

Meanwhile, the mixed fleet had long since warped away from the planetary system and headed for the location of their next mission. One task awaited after another for the guardians of the galaxy, for Chaos allowed no rest for the weary.

Inside the warship, which had now reverted to its G-form, the body Tanyan Commander who had appeared so calm was shuddering, and the shudders grew stronger the further the vessel warped away from the destroyed planet. Beside him, the Midgardian First Mate had wanted to console him, but was pushed away by a gentle wave of blood-colored psionic energy—though appearing threatening, it remained ever so calm.

*Snap—*with a whirl of tentacles, the old commander pulled out the translator on his chest, his tendrils flailing violently in the air as faint psionic energies stirred.

There was no sound apart from air being whipped. Without a translator and with so far a distance between, none could understand what the old man was roaring or hear if it was a cry of rage, misery, or perhaps both.

Even so, the truth was that the old Tanyan had said nothing.

He could not say a thing.

“Ah, aaah…”

“Aaaaaaaaaargh!!!”

A lamenting scream, as if one was vomiting their soul.

It had merely been a small planetary system—a small civilization and an insignificant battlefield between Order and Chaos for a galaxy.

As one looked further away from the planetary system, one could see that atop the great chessboard of the stars, infinite light flickered, just as there were those eaten away by the inexhaustive darkness.

The stars swirled.

Infinite rage, despair, sadness, and longing. Boundless misery and mourning, along with infinite love.

Immeasurably intense emotion combined with countless souls and lives, gradually gathering into a great vortex that swirled between the stars.

The psionic energy and life combined into a vortex as if invoking, praying, and yearning for something.

It was summoning Destruction, or perhaps Hope.

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