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Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
In Midgard, the Midgardian System in Stellaris—since the destroyal of Void Mother on the fringes of the Garden of Flowers, a distant Midgardian colony in a faraway system, the once reclusive Midgardian civilization was swiftly discovered and accepted by a strong galactic alliance of civilizations. Having the fortune of being positioned behind the fields of engagement, Midgard became one of the logistics hubs to the rear of the alliance, catering for 7.4% of resource logistics for federation systems.
The influence of the alliance that called themselves the Stellar Guard stretched across several different galaxies, with the number of civilizations fighting under their banners exceeding 8,000 and counting. The alliance was chaired by the Life Preservation Sequence, the supercivilization which stood atop all worlds in Stellaris. Said to have been born millions of years ago, the intelligent machinery collective created by an old pioneering race had not originally involved themselves with the world, but having been entrusted with the quest by their Creator to ‘preserve all intelligence regardless of race’, they lived peacefully in a barren system and maintained their watch over Stellaris.
Their Creator had since been lost to the flow of time after having disappeared without a trace. Even so, the immortal collectives remained, continuously improving and growing while maintaining their watch over civilizations. Even so, though they were supposed to silently stay inside their own system until a succeeding race discovered their existence, the appearance of Evil Gods seemed to have exceeded the predictions of their intelligent sequence. The Life Preservation Sequence, which had destroyed a fleet of Evil God spawns, had predicted that every civilization in the system would have meet their end if they did not react.
Hence, after swiftly approving the Final Defense Protocols, the Life Preservation Sequence left their state of isolation, completely correcting their basic programming as they formed an alliance, and instructed the diverse races to defend themselves against Evil Gods.
[According to our calculations, we must come together. All life would be threatened by Chaos otherwise.]
That alliance had stood over 3,000 years, with the Guard having repelled Evil Gods even before Midgardians built houses out of concrete. Still, it was indeed ironic—it was a realm of worlds that revolved around psionic powers, and yet the greatest of them proved to be some collective sequence.
But reality was not what it seemed. The control core of the Life Preservation Sequence, known as the Triple Curtain, dominated the collective consciousness of every collective individual and wielded the greatest psionic powers known to Stellaris. It actually heard the very ‘voice’ of the world itself, communicating with it to suggest various stunning ideas, not to mention making judgement that bordered on precognition.
There were even those who claimed that the Triple Control was very much the agent of Stellaris’ World Will, and every act was to improve the safeguarding of their world.
After being accepted into the Stellar Guard alliance, the Midgardian civilization soon joined the battle for paradise that engulfed countless systems and galaxies. Commanders who excelled were specially promoted to commanders for the alliance’s fleet, while their unique biological armada was also refurbished with equipment from other allied civilizations to be better, faster, stronger. After all, there was no time for infighting or factional dispute in the face of the Chaos invasion that threatened to consume all things. Though there would always be the occasional fool who would try to stir trouble and sabotage the alliance from the back, but as most had suspected, the Preservation Sequence would have handled such fools before they could even cause any damage, just like a prophet.
Nevertheless, every civilization was dismantled so they could be converted to a larger form. Everyone was then assigned to divisions where their strengths could be used in their full capacity, whether for battle or research. Each of them had a place where they belonged depending on whatever they were adept at, and even those who lack an edge and were self-declared garbage would have been told to get into mobile armors to carry out mechanical menial labor.
With most Midgardians, their innate psionic gifts, accumulated knowledge through their longevity, proportional resistance against Chaos (the most important aspect), along with their fine minds allowed them to rise meteorically in the ranks of the alliance. Many veterans who had been involved in the battle of the distant stars against the Void Mother were assigned as the chief officers, or even captains and commanders of fleet and strike teams.
Despite that, even if they were a rising race who had the approval of numerous other civilizations, even if their elites had gained strong positions in the alliance hierarchy, and even if their home system enjoyed the strongest protection as a strategic backline logistic base, most Midgardians were not thrilled at all.
It was because authority could only be gained through sacrifice—the acclamation of others came at the cost of Midgardian blood spilled over the last dozen years.
In the grey steel castle of the Third Logistics Base in the Midgardian system, alien species of all forms were moving around, while vessels of diverse forms darted here and there in the outer zones of the castle, shifting cargoes around. Eighty percent of the workers were Midgardians since it was their homeworld, but they remained every busy, taking continuous shift to keep working over twenty-four hours. Even so, as the duties of the reserves grew heavier, overtime shifts increased as well, and everyone eventually had to work beyond 14 hours, having little time for breaks to eat, rest, or even handle personal issues.
A Midgardian logistic crew member with hair that resembled broccoli walked into the canteen, carrying his tray to a seat near the window. From that angle, one could see the massive vortex swirling in the heart of Midgard, as well as the Mother Tree that pillared heaven and earth, linking the minds of all Midgardians.
The Mother Tree’s existence had also been one of the reasons for the Midgardians’ meteoric rise. It was a body of collective consciousness that resembled the Life Preservation Sequence’s own Triple Curtain, which in turn afforded the Midgardians special treatment. The higher ups of the Alliance—the Life Preservation Sequence especially—were intending to artificially create a formidable psionic body similar to the Triple Curtains to withstand the escalating Chaos attacks, and had hence granted the Midgardians a free pass on many aspects, providing them a freer channel to obtain resources.
The initial stages of the cultivation proved successful in the past ten years—the Midgardian Mother Tree’s sheer processing ability was able to cater to almost all logistics protections, which explained the Midgardians’ growing influence in handling logistics.
Broccoli Head, however, was not too concerned over such matters. For the ordinary Midgardian logistics crew member, driving a cart in the vacuum to transport resources was no different than driving a heavy-duty truck on the planet, albeit with greater risk…even if it paid better. Most importantly, Broccoli Head worked to the point of fatigue every day thanks to his 14-hour shifts, which left him with no excess strength consider other matters. Even eating to him was simply to put things into his mouth and munch, before numbly swallowing.
“Noodles for dinner today…it’s fine, I guess. Still, I envy the First Logistics Base—working right beside the star and sunbathing every day, such rich replenishments.”
It was indeed strange that many fully-loaded logistics vessels had been darting to the First Logistics Base recently, and yet not many were fully-loaded when they leave —one should be aware that those were the resources of various fleets, and the hubs did not usually have such large warehouses and could not have been using said resources. Even if the workers in the First Bases were gluttons, there was no reason for such major consumption.
That, however, had nothing to do with crew in the Third Base.
Broccoli Head lifted his brows when he uncovered the lid over his dinner—it was good. Though the noodles were noodles, it was made from solid nutrient extracts from the roots of a curious supernatural plant called the Stardust Tree. It marginally enhances psionic attributes, and Midgardians could simply ‘eat’ it by absorb the nutrients from its skin. His chopsticks that were made from the trunks of the Stardust Tree were edible too, and Broccoli Head hence quickly dug in—as break periods for logistics crew were fixed, if one took more time to eat, they would thus have less time for sleep or contacting their kin.
The noodles tasted fine and was indeed revitalizing. Though the work was hard, the Alliance was never stingy when it came to basic provisions since all of them were fighting enemies of Order—there was certainly no way they would create a mess amongst their own ranks. Even so, as Broccoli Head stuffed noodles into his mouth that absorbed it, as his species did not actually have a digestive system, he could not help but to think of his home back in the sunny side of the southwestern reaches of Midgard.
It had been seven years since he had been conscripted into service, and he had never once been allowed to visit home. He missed his parents and his sister, who was 120 years his senior, and his brother, who was thirty seconds older.
But just as Broccoli Head reminisced about his homeworld, a sudden and stiff electrical voice spoke from the big screen in the canteen fore that was broadcasting local Midgard news.
[Bzzt… And now, for an emergency update.]
The scene of a Midgardian newsreader had been swiftly replaced by a burly reporter who appeared to be a female minotaur standing on the bridge of a vessel and announcing with a serious expression, “Three months after losing contact, the Alliance has once again sighted the home system of the Tanyans. The heavily-armed armada, which consists of the state-of-the-art mothership Blaze, has already headed for the frontlines, confirming that the spawn of the Evil God of Pestilence that had escaped the encirclement of the Great Turnaround has ambushed the Tanyan system.”
“Regrettably, most of the fleet anchored in the Tanyan system have been reassigned to other posts for the Great Turnaround, with the Seventeenth Patrol Fleet who had been stationed to defend the Tanyan system killed in action in the Pestilence spawn ambush, along with the 4.6 billion Tanyans on their homeworld… Kedar, the Tanyan chief commander of the Fifth Starfleet, has confirmed the full corruption of the Tanyan homeworld into a breeding place for Void Mothers, and thereby executed Purging Protocols to simultaneously destroy the planet and every residual sign of Chaos in the system.”
“The Great Turnaround has been a success that has assuredly slowed the spreading combined legions of the Evil Gods known as Pestilence, Famine, and Limbo. By trading losses, our forces have claimed a great strategic victory by destroying the Permanent Anchor Points with which the spawns would have summoned the Evil Gods, although there is no denying that the Great Turnaround has not reduced any considerable size of the Chaotic legions, and that there are openings in the the tightest perimeters. Now is no time to celebrate our triumph—the plight of the Tanyans is the plight of the Alliance, and we must be ever vigilant to avoid repeating such critical errors so that no such tragedies would happen again… we shall have three minutes of silence to mourn the Tanyans.”
A clear sound echoed in the silence.
Broccoli Head’s chopsticks had fallen from his hand onto his plate and he had not listened to what was said afterwards.
In fact, his mind was left confounded when it was mentioned that the entirety of the Seventeenth Patrol Fleet was killed in action.
If his memory served him well, Broccoli Head’s own siblings were in the Seventeenth Patrol Fleet. More than that, the Tanyans were the first Alliance member whom they had encountered, and both sides shared a strong relationship after the Tanyans had brought the Midgardains into the family of the Stellar Guard. There would have often been many a Midgardian ship joining a Tanyan fleet, and vice versa. Many Midgardians had joined the forces guarding the Tanyan perimeters, intending to build their career, since the Tanyan system was quite near the frontlines.
All… killed in action…
Broccoli Head stared blankly at the huge screen. He knew well that he was not soldier material, and even his religious beliefs leaned towards the Mother Tree and the Void Saint, rather than the recently deified and ever popular Radcliffe the Infernal, the patron god of warriors and victory.
He was merely a logistics crew who simply got by, while his siblings, who were keen on making a name for themselves and their own race, joined the army after having witnessed the might of the Infernal and were his devout believers. They had risen through the ranks, with rumors having it that they had been respectively promoted to commander and vice-commander of the Seventeenth’s detachment.
All killed in action.
Truth be told, having not met for seven years and not sharing much childhood memories, Broccoli was aware that he was simply an ordinary family member who was not especially intimate with his siblings—even if their bond had been cordial. Since moving out to live alone fifty years ago, they rarely met, and not to mention, were at two different ends of the stars which in turn made even communications troublesome. Were they ever truly intimate siblings? They would have at most resembled normal cousins after going their separate ways, albeit with a closer bond.
They’re both dead.
He should not have been sad… or, in the very least, he should not have been that sad.
Broccoli Head lowered his head and saw the noodles in his plate, his gaze remaining blank. He had never thought that he would feel miserable or depressed since he knew such a day would have come when they enlisted. Had there ever been an undefeatable and immortal army? He even remembered the harsh words they traded when he had refused his siblings’ invitation, stubbornly insisting to stay on their homeworld as a logistics crew instead—they had accused him of being a coward, while he mocked them for shortening their own lifespans.
Trembling as he picked up his chopsticks, Broccoli Head kept eating—the mourning may have been only three minutes, but his break period remained the same, and there was no excuse for any delay.
However, it was until another Midgardian sat beside him and gently prodded him that Broccoli Head realized his chopsticks had not been catching any noodles, but that he had eaten the chopsticks instead.
It was only then that he collapsed onto the table limply.
The Midgardians lived a long age. Several centuries would have at most seen the birth of two generations. Hence, seven years without contact was merely the same as a few busy months where one forgot to call home—none of them would have thought anything of it.
Broccoli Head had always thought that time stretched on, and there was thus no need to stay in touch since Midgardians had all the time they needed… that was when the man whose leaves over his head began to flow with cooling fluids, and he began to cry. He only realized then that his nonchalance had developed under the impression that there would always be the time and opportunity in future for him and his siblings to sit down for a good talk and resolve their misunderstandings to live freely once more.
Just like the mundane days of the past centuries.
But time awaited no one.
There were no ‘ifs’, just as there were no ‘under the impressions’.
He was perfectly aware that there was no reason for the gods to babysit everyone, that they were merely symbols of a path that should be taken and a representation of Order. Nevertheless, Broccoli Head clenched his fist and gritted his teeth to stop his tears, looking up upon one of the sacred three symbols above the huge screen in the canteen. The logistic crew who once desired nothing more but a calm life was staring at the Φ crest, the mark of the Infernal.
“I… want to fight.”
With neither hate nor vengeance, the Midgardians were essentially a psionic race of plants who could calmly face death, misery, or even eternal parting. They would fight their foes with serenity, and peaceful await their deaths.
However, no matter how brave or how resolved they were, even Midgardians could not help it sometimes…
That was, could not help but pray.
However, in that single instant, a bright light had burst away from the two poles of Midgard’s star, with two dazzling silver divine radiance stretching endlessly at the dark emptiness of the universe like two lances.
The star whirled slowly. As it moved, peerlessly profound energy was drained from the core of the star—thirty-six rings that resembled chains appeared out of nowhere, encircling and flickering around the star like electrons orbiting an atom’s nucleus. Then, the ring formations and the poles of the star burst out in radiance, forming a greater celestial sized Φ symbol, rapidly draining the star’s energies and delivering it to the Void beyond the world.
“What… what is that?!”
Even Broccoli Head was stunned at the sight. He could see the anomaly transpiring at the faraway star even if it had already occurred for almost ten minutes. “What on earth are the people at the First Base playing at?”
The answer was, in fact, simple. They were making an offering, an ancient tribute by sacrificing something in exchange for the protection of a certain profound entity…or indeed, their arrival. Dozens of days of constant resource accumulation—resources that would have been decisive for the outcome of a great battle, even offering the star of a strategic planetary system used for logistics…
Nevertheless, the Midgardians never hesitated to make a gamble like no other in history.
And they won.
Silver ripples stirred the world.
As the mass of the star shrunk and decreased in mass, the blinding silver light became ever brighter, even completely replacing the former brilliance of the star itself. A great hole that appeared to link to distant dimensions, or indeed a rift that connected to the other side appeared in the heart of the star, expanding and devouring the very mass of the star.
“Field of vision established.”
“Dawn node in position.”
“Mystery node in position.”
“Ring node in position.”
In the massive steel base of the planet, Milhabus, the most powerful Midgardian psionic stood before a huge crystal ball and confirmed that each node was prepared and ready. After doing so, he took a deep breath—the leafless-headed Midgardian’s serene expression crumbled, and he pressed both hands forcefully onto the crystal sphere as his entire body erupted with boundless silver-blue psionic light!
Almost seething, he cried out, “Charge and activate the Abyss of Tomorrow!”
“Abyss of Tomorrow! Activating!”
Countless voices answered in synchrony as endless specks of light shined simultaneously, with billions of beams darting from every corner of the Midgardian system and gathering inside the star.
On the shrinking star, the psionic concentration project had been completed. The rapidly converging formation was online, draining the star of all energy and reduced to a simulated singularity. At the call of a profound being from the other side, the dimensional doorway that resembled an abyss opened. Everything was now on the right track—the star was dying rapidly and not merely at its core, but as if all its fuel was being focused and burnt.
Inside the rift, a warped silhouette appeared, seemingly reflecting the distant stars. Bright, deep, but dispassionate eyes that seemed to belong to a Giant God appeared, as if it embodied the end of all things, the limbo from which none could escape.
The light of innumerable Midgardian psionics were streaking, arching through the darkness and converging before sinking into the abyss, drawing the entity from the other side.
A Void Doorway ritual that had been the craziest ever attempted in Stellaris and eclipsed the Evil God spawns’ Permanent Anchor Points, one which was calmly named the ‘Abyss for Tomorrow’ by those who planned it, opened successfully. A star was being offered, consumed by the dark hole—but even as the light of the stellar body diminished and darkness began to spread in the planetary system, a new blinding silver radiance appeared, illuminating all things and life.
Exchanging the sun of this day for the light of tomorrow.
Exchanging the present darkness for tomorrow’s hope.
If there is no triumph to be had and paradise could not be reached, let us all fall into the abyss called the future.
As the massive energy surged, space quaked like cloth in the wind. At the same time, the planets darkened but soon regained light, for in the heart of the dark dimensional rift resembling an abyss, the silhouette of a profound silver star appeared where the sun had been after consuming the star itself. He materialized, transcending as if swimming out from a distant ocean to reach the shore.
Every sensor, communications equipment, and surveillance spell across the entire planetary system shut down one after another as massive gravitational force appeared abruptly alongside volumes of complex information, almost knocking every planet in the system out of their orbits. Countless screams and prayers could be heard from Midgard, but the gravitational force had vanished, as if it had never even appeared in the first place.
Meanwhile, a perfect silver sphere had taken the place of the original Midgard Star, hence ruling the orbit of the entire system. He emanated gentle light that illuminated the dark emptiness of space.
In that single moment, the Midgardians heard the voice of the person they consecrated as a god.
“Do you still have courage?”
“Do you still have hope?”
“If you wish to fight for tomorrow, draw your weapons.”
Broccoli Head heard it.
The Midgardians heard it.
Every member of the Stellar Guard, every intelligent and sentient lifeform or indeed, everything heard it.
They heard the shrill horns and the war drums of rising fighting spirit.
They heard the whispers and encouragements, resounding across the dark nights of misery and the dreams of despair.
“With the conviction in my heart, I shall open a path to the future, crushing the end of times with the weapon in my hands!”
In that very moment, vigor and rage blazed.
—Volume Seven, the Aligning Stars. End.
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