Warm undersea springs, searing subterranean trenches, lands of snow elements, and plains of concentrated magic crystals… the earliest origins were in places where eyes never lingered.
Later, it began to spread from the sea to the continent, and from beneath ground to the surface—and then the entire world
It could have been on continents, planets, the infinite seas of stars, or even the Void that was larger than the cosmos, not to mention worlds beyond the Void—it bred, replicating itself and infecting, thereby becoming a swarm
Common yet extraordinary, it was known as…
There were innumerable worlds in the Void. Each glimmered in starlight, and their inexhaustible light would in turn gather into galaxies, which in turn gathered into different pluralistic galaxies—the most solid and profound structure in the present Multiverse.
Among all that, minute worlds were remarkably special existences. Most only had a few hills and a grassland, spanning no more than a few hundred squared kilometers and were smaller than a city.
However, it was in such worlds that tremendous supernatural energies gathered as its primary stabilized World Barrier, and it would not have been unusual to have special condensations of those energies within as well. That was why minute worlds were hidden treasures in the Void, but they were so few that even finding one in the galaxy was difficult.
Moreover, they were unlike demiplanes and planes. Generally speaking, demiplanes were realms without any natural internal circulations, while planes were worlds attached to other worlds and mostly man-made. Natural planes were very rare as well, having variety in size and categorized by the world they were attached to.
The most commonly seen worlds were small worlds in the usual sense. The smallest of them recorded had a surface of 150 million squared kilometers—just slightly larger than a major Mycroft nation. On the other hand, the largest small worlds were 60 billion squared kilometers that could accommodate dozens of Mycrofts.
Such class of worlds contained complete natural cycles and lasted a long time, surviving for billions of natural years in the event of nothing unexpected happening. In addition, the fact that supernatural energies greatly accelerated that process allowed life to be born in just a few million years, or indeed be filled with intelligent life in just around a hundred years should luck be on their side.
Small worlds were most numerous in the Multiverse. Most of their supernatural energies and total surface could reach a density equilibrium to quickly grow life, and the intelligent life inside would have been able to discover the Void as fast as possible, hence beginning their exploration towards the unknown or beyond the world.
Further up were mid-sized worlds, which were second to small worlds in number. They were remarkably vast and generally hundreds of times the size of Mycroft—and that being the smallest of them, since most mid-sized worlds had one or even several stars and multiple planetary systems combined with many planetary worlds, which made up the so-called planetary realms. Life had less chance of growing here, since supernatural energies were of a lower density and there were less planets for any exceptions to exist. Indeed, a major number of mid-sized worlds in the Multiverse were still in the process of developing life, and it would have only been perhaps billions of years later that recently born organics and unicellular lifeforms would come to be, and then slowly evolve intelligence.
The lower boundary of mid-sized worlds were supercontinents of stellar scale or super planets, while the upper boundary were small galaxies which had over a thousand systems. The stars quietly orbited in such realms, biding as their time as the life they grew would be peacefully born within the young Multiverse.
And generally speaking, as well, a world larger than mid-sized worlds were the large worlds that had one or multiple galaxies within. Billions of stars twinkled in such worlds, and that was just on the surface—large worlds that were slightly standard were of multiple galaxies and contained trillions of stars.
At that point, the barrier of such worlds would have been so sturdy that non-Legends could not enter or leave, while Supremes could move through mid-sized or small worlds via special techniques. Even so, Supremes would never have been able to approach such galactic realms, or could only simply brought inside but were unable to escape. It was so enclosed that most lives would have aged within its vastness, unable to unravel the truth of the Void beyond.
In turn, the greatest large worlds were basically multiple galaxies with quadrillion observable stars. Even Legends would have needed specific skills to enter as they were not connected to ordinary galaxies and were basically without information and energy connection in the Void, save for the Great Mana Tide.
However, only worlds of such scales could have relied on chance to grown intelligent life, just as only such worlds could have repelled weaker Evil Gods.
As for the superworlds vaster than large worlds, or the rumored worlds which contained boundless stars and galaxies, their sizes were not measured in the number of stars but by 'billion lightyears radiuses' instead to determine their observable range.
Such worlds did grow in the Multiverse, but were isolated from the Multiverse and impossible for Evil Gods to evade—perhaps it was open in the days when the Initial Flame was still ablaze, but as time passed and the Multiverse fundamentally shifted, it was severed from the Multiverse, with some superworlds even retaining the original state of the Multiverse where supernatural energies were absent.
On the screen, pages of an electronic book was flipped as an agile insect feeler touched the simulated screen. Having read through the entire book, the elderly Tanyan appeared thoughtful.
"So, our world is a superworld…if there was a realm larger than ours, it would be those near-infinite singular universes that are considered boundless."
Having read every world, Fleet Commander Kedar turned off the e-book in the Psyweb app, which had a row of very distinct Mycroft Basic written on its cover.
Title: Joshuapedia, Volume Five
Index: A Thousand Things You Don't Know About Void and Worlds
Summary: Learn about the fundamental state of the Multiverse in an hour! Disclaimer: This book is only intended for disseminating basic knowledge regarding the Void and should only be used for learning and exchange, not for commercial use. —Joshua van Radcliffe.
After Joshua was summoned to Stellaris by the Midgardians and jointly popularized Emotional power alongside the Triple Curtain, he had begun to spread knowledge regarding the Void, Evil Gods, and Multiverse to the civilizations of Stellaris.
It was actually one of Joshua's intention for returning to Stellaris too—if he succeeded in culling the Chaos problem in Stellaris, he could secure major knowledge about the Chaos spawns, or even have the veterans who were well-versed in fighting the Chaos become reinforcements. Most importantly, he had disclosed to Stellaris locals about the other worlds and Evil Gods beyond, which were the cause of Chaotic invasion in their own world.
Joshua had no intent of hiding that intention, something Kedar could be sure off after reading that encyclopedia. In fact, the old commander could tell that the power of the Four Divine Rings which he now wielded was actually a test he conducted with Extraordinary powers. Essentially, they were being used for an experiment as he discerned a possible path for his future.
Reaching out with his feeler to touch the red ring on this joint, Kedar smiled.
As a senior who had lived and fought the Chaos for a long time, Kedar certainly was aware that noble could not begin to describe the gesture in which a profound existence such as Radcliffe the Infernal, God of Midgard had carried out in crossing the distance of endless worlds to aid Stellaris in fighting the Chaos, not to mention the spreading of Emotion power without hesitation. In fact, such a behavior had reached the level of selflessness.
In any case, there was no hassle needed for such a class of existence to enlist reinforcements from Stellaris. Even from the strictest of perspectives, it was selfless help and a fair deal at its bare minimum—certainly not deceive.
As for experimentation… it was only because Stellaris civilizations were worthy of being test subjects!
One should remember that the power of Emotion was not some random ability, but a system developed with deep consideration from a champion, even compatible with Psi! The higher one's position was in civilization, the clearer the value of that system: it was a power that could get an entire tribal race to transcend overnight. After all, who would waste such an opportunity on Stellaris if they were powerless, and have them work as test subjects?
"If not for you, could I have gained the courage to step away from my predicament, and hence vent my anger at Chaos?"
Looking up, Kedar the Tanyan, former commander of the Blaze Fleet and present five-star commander, stared beyond the bridge at a planet which an entire fleet was suppressed with bombardment. He watched as the planet was eaten away by the epidemic and reduced to a world of death, crimson radiance burning in his eyes.
Ever since Emotional power had spread throughout Stellaris, the Stellar Guard had refitted the former Blaze Fleet into the Gallant Fleet, which centered around Kedar, Ringbearer of Courage. All the crew members were individuals who had awakened the Emotional power of bravery, or powerful psionics whose abilities at least leaned towards it.
And the objective of that fleet, which was brimming with courage and wrath, was to purge all uncertain elements in their frontlines before Retaliation…
…such as planet which was being bombarded before him—a planet fully infected by the Ultimate Virus.
"So, it could be the work of the Evil God of Pestilence…"
Kedar towards the edge of the bridge and watched the planet as it was bathed in starship cannons, his gaze somber while still remaining on his guard despite the absolute advantage.
The Ultimate Virus—through the power of the Triple Curtain and the Four Divine Rings, Joshua had informed the Stellar Guard about that supervirus that could survive in vacuum and in heat of over 6000 degrees.
It was highly infectious, concealed, and lethal, causing the deaths of billions and decimating over a hundred planets within less than a week with some Alliance races going extinct. The casualty count was that of a major war, although this time, the Stellar Guard were not able to even see the face of their enemy, much less prepare against them.
Still, if that was all to it, the Alliance did not have to swing their keen edge in the Gallant Fleet.
A bellow that transcended space to directly resound in spirit echoed. Kedar felt it and lowered his gaze, staring coolly at a certain spot at the bombarded planet.
In the gloom where oceans were vaporized and billowed by the artillery of the starships, pale-purple bolts of lightning sparked as a massive creature that could clearly be seen even in orbit strode across the thunderclouds. It withstood salvo after salvo of psionic lances, occasionally exposing parts of its body due to the terrible explosions as the atmosphere of the entire planet was stirred by it, rippling.
Kedar could see and distinctly estimate its size—based on the parts that were exposed, it was probably more than 1,500 kilometers in length.
Its body was a part of the ocean.
With the raging cry and perhaps succumbing to the bombardment, the massive monster shook its head to clear the fog around his head, revealing its true form to all: its head had distinct black and white patterns like a killer whale, but the rest of its body had a ceramic glaze that effectively deflected the brunt of the psionic beams. Metallic bony spikes protruded high over its back, craggy and flickering with a dangerous crystal glint, seemingly capable of retaliating with a psionic beam of its own.
The fog stirred. The structure of the entire planet was affected, and the atmosphere that once shrouded the outer reaches of the planet was now under the monster's control, molded into a clump that could repel the beams. In turn, it kept flailing within the mist, using the planet's own power to stop the bombardment of the fleet.
"Ultimate Entity…" Kedar said quietly to himself, his expression calm again. "Even when metamorphizing, its ability is beyond ordinary Perpetuators—if I were to be without Emotional power or have not become a Ringbearer and ascended by my own power alone, I would really not be able to fight it."
Perpetuator psionics could achieve immortality in body and spirit through Psi, surviving and resurrecting through spirit even after being slain. However, since their combat ability did not include brute strength, ordinary Perpetuators were at a disadvantage against the Ultimate Entity.
After all, it was a monster that devoured most of the life in the oceans—with time, it would have eaten the planet as well.
"Report, Commander: the refugees of Minglida have been brought on board—all confirmed clear from the Ultimate Virus!"
Just as the Ultimate Killer Whale that controlled the planet's atmosphere fought to repel the starships' bombardment, a rather tired but excited voice appeared in Kedar's head—it was his former vice commander Faya the Midgardian, and the current vanguard leader of the Gallant Fleet. "Confirmation: no normal beings in Minglida; the atmosphere is filled with mutating Ultimate Virus while the rain and mist are infectants!"
"Understood. You've done well." Nodding slightly, Kedar commended the other before turning to look at the Ultimate Killer Whale again. The Ultimate Entity was indeed powerful that even ordinary Perpetuators should not have recklessly fought it or they would have their intelligence consumed instead.
Even so, would it have been able to stand against a planetary armada crewed entirely by wielders of Emotion?
The mere shockwave bombardment that did not directly destroy their target would have completely destroyed everything that existed upon the planet. But now, with the rescue teams having completed their task in the planet, it was also time that they exerted their full power to completely crush their objective.
Taking a deep breath by gaping its mandibles, Kedar warped the short distance to the outside of the flagship Blaze instantly with Psi, standing firmly in space as if the sturdiest of grounds were beneath his feet.
The entire fleet ceased their shelling of the Ultimate Killer Whale upon seeing their commander, their natural leader and Ringbearer of Courage, arrive personally at the battlefield. In fact, even the Ultimate Killer Whale itself looked up uncertainly due to the pause of its enemy's attacks, staring at the darkness of space.
Then, it saw the light of scarlet flames slowly igniting.
In return, Kedar looked downwards at the creature which had nearly eaten away every life in a planet, decimating the ecosystem of an entire world.
He remembered his own home which was destroyed by the Chaos; he heard the screams and cries when countless lives died in agony.
War, depression, death, and despair—all darkness was cancer embedded in the bone that latched onto Stellaris, gnawing away at the flesh and blood of intelligent life and civilization.
Even so, it was precisely because he had witnessed the darkness and experienced the despair, and it was precisely because he had personally gone through it all that everything was ingrained into his bone.
Thus, the wrathful flame ignited, and courage was thus born.
In space, Kedar lifted his limbs, feeling every bit of energy across his body surging alongside his spirit. A clear order was delivered across the fleet, ever calm and determined—but this time, they could all hear the calmly burning inferno behind it.
"Lend me your power!"
Hence, the millions of soldiers whose hearts embodied rage and courage raised their hands and roared together.
Courage! Faith! Resolve! The three as one!
Above the brilliant crimson ring worn on Kedar's lifted limbs, ripples of crimson light began to manifest out of nowhere. A warmth that incinerated everything beyond the sun's heat was in his control, while the brimming power of Emotion conjured one solid form after another: weapons from lances, swords, and axes to guns and cannons, even massive planetary warships and the most insignificant of supernatural weaponry.
It was every armament and physical object affiliated to destruction built since the birth of intelligent life. Everything gathered upon Kedar's body and was equipped, as the mutual strength known as destruction was drawn upon, molded into a bright bundle of light over the head of the old commander. It was as if a great star composed of all manners of weapons had suddenly appeared within the dark skies, and it was no silhouette—it was an actual star, a manifested object granted form by the power of Emotion!
On the planet called Minglida, the Ultimate Killer Whale, which was perplexed by what its enemy was actually up to, suddenly felt a chill in its bones. It emitted an unusual cry, before turning to dig deep into the lithosphere, seemingly attempting to escape the assault.
But it was futile.
"The ultimate skill of the Infernal Midgardian God, a blow that ignites giant stars!"
His limbs lifted atop, Kedar felt the power of his entire fleet converging over his head, finally condensing into a massive solid cluster of crimson light that was hundreds of meters wide. The silhouette of all weaponry surface within, shining bit by bit until it became so bright that none could discern any color from it as it illuminated half of the planetary system.
Hidden behind courage and wrath, the power known as madness and destruction surged as brilliant bolts encircling the cluster of light as Kedar sonorously cried, "Witness the rage of the Infernal and mine!"
To a planet, that very small cluster of crimson that was flung away heavily by Kedar reached its maximum capacity in an instant, transcending space at sub-lightspeed to sink straight into the planetary body, even leaving the mist unaffected.
Nonetheless, there was an earth-shattering roar and scream in the very next moment: the entire atmosphere of the planet which had condensed into mist was ignited by the heat that was beyond a planet's core, turning into a blazing sea!
Across the Minglida planet, rifts spread as if they were innumerable veins and scars. Crimson light extended away from the cracks, morphing into countless blades and beams that spread away—the power gathered from millions of elite Emotional power wielders were now fires of destruction that directly kindled and melted the planet.
Like a wild stallion freed from its bonds, the fire spread over the planet, melting and softening mountains, while the oceans evaporated and were blown off.
There was no terrible explosion or forceful shockwave. In minutes, the once living planet was a land completely infected by the epidemic, a molten planet of crimson gold. There were no longer mountains or seas on the planet, only fire.
Naturally, the Ultimate Killer had already been blasted by the Emotional version of Stoner Sunshine, screaming as it was reduced to nothingness.
Kedar stared at the planet that was melting beneath him, no expression visible on his face.
According to the original orders of the Stellar Guard, he should have used the Star Destroyer Blaze to blast Minglida into pieces and sever any chance for the epidemic to spread. However, he judged that decimating that planet would not have sterilized every bit of Ultimate Virus on it. Therefore, to prevent it from coming back, he learned the ultimate technique that the Midgardian god had left in the appendix of the encyclopedia—Stoner Sunshine, the technique that could have truly created a star when cultivated to its peak form.
Of course, it was merely so that he could act by his own hand, a reason he made up in the moment to destroying his foe from the Chaos. After all, it is only by hearing the cries of his foe and seeing it crumble into nothingness with his own eyes that the old commander, who had lost home and child, could have felt it—the flame of rage in his heart becoming ever purer.
It certainly was not diminishing.
The warrior's flame of wrath would have only grown stronger before Chaos was completely purged. As a father, husband, and the hope of everyone back home, Kedar's anger as a life towards the Chaos would never have died so easily.
With one flicker, Kedar was back inside the ship's bridge. He turned, keeping his back to the bridge crew who was watching him with reverent gazes before quietly commanding, "We shall depart for the next objective."
But there was only silence in the bridge.
"What is it? I said, proceed to the next objective—didn't the Alliance already assign us another mission?"
Feeling something amiss, Kedar turned in curiosity to the comms crew who should have been answering him. He wondered if the Alliance had suddenly, in some great act of kindness, decided not to have the fleet keep working.
Unfortunately, it was not: Kedar could see the astonishment of his subordinates.
One of the crew recovered and responded gravely—being a wielder of Courage, he would not have stuttered in cowardice despite the shock. "Look. We may not have the next mission!"
Kedar took a step forward, his compound eyes clearly seeing every detail in front of the crew member. It was a map of the local sector which was divided into sixty-seven smaller zones, each of which was a planetary system. Generally speaking, if there was Chaos or other unexpected circumstances, the portion of the map which depicted the smaller zones would have flashed red, or blue otherwise. There had not been many red zones in the sector, with some of them having been cleared by the Gallant Fleet.
Now, however, Kedar realized that the star map in front of him was all scarlet!
"Emergency alert from the Alliance: the epidemic is spreading on a major scale!"
"Attention all frontline fleets! The connection between the Ultimate Virus and the Chaotic Evil Gods has been confirmed—locations close to Chaos spawns have a higher chance for the birth of the Ultimate Virus!"
"All frontline fleets retreat! Defend the nearest advance stellar base!"
Consecutive warnings rang, taking up most of the screen—in the blink of an eye, the entire system had fallen, leaving a single blue zone that was the location of the Gallant Fleet. In a single instant, they were isolated with no help in sight!
"Is that an Evil God trick?!"
Even Kedar could not hold back his astonishment. If the Ultimate Entities grew out of the fallen regions with one growing out of each planet, they would have been the ones destroyed instead!
In fact, it was not just them—if the same thing happened throughout, Stellaris was facing a clear and present threat!
Still, things were clearly far from being that bad.
Just as Kedar commanded the fleet to depart as soon as possible and break through the zones infected by the plague to return to the Star Base at the rear to await further orders, he suddenly felt a mysterious presence.
The Ring of Courage on his limb suddenly became a bright crimson, shining in clear transparent radiance.
The Domain of Psi where the Psyweb converged, the location of the Four Divine Rings.
In the four blazes of Emotion, four streaks of distinct runic rings hovered in the fire, connected to the Root and drawing divine power—a process that would have seemingly lasted until after the all intelligent life had died out from Stellaris.
Nonetheless, the fires of emotion that appeared everlasting suddenly raged, as if stimulated into activeness from its dormancy. They hence retaliated, unleashing formless ripples that swept across the stars!
Then, with the Four Divine Rings using every individual who had awakened Emotional power as nodes to spread that formless presence, the once hidden, silent, and faint ripples that quietly moved through Stellaris was at once cut short. Without its permanent guidance, the spreading and manifesting Ultimate Virus promptly collapsed as a pinch of frivolous composite, just like a program that could not be downloaded after losing its internet signal.
Kedar could feel that formless flux spreading away across all directions from the Ring of Courage that he held. Where it passed, the once vaguely unsettling sensations were all cleared away, relaxing one's spirit significantly.
Being the only Ringbearer of the Courage Ring, Kedar twitched. He could sense that the ripples were not the ring's action, but another champion's guidance, and that champion's need not be mentioned—it could have only been that great one.
It was the person who had granted him the power to exact revenge and restored his courage.
As if having the same thought, the old commander looked up towards the seemingly empty space of the Universe.
At that very moment, a single bright star instantly shone upon the dark curtains of the cosmos.
For at present, with the help of the Triple Curtain…
Joshua van Radcliffe had left Stellaris and arrived at the Void that had been dormant for 80 million years beyond that world.