Power Punch - Chapter 76

Published at 12th of October 2023 01:52:09 PM

Chapter 76

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"This is Sol." Dragha says with a light smile as I stand hand in hand with Letty on the command deck after a journey via a wormhole, which turned out to be a very boring hole in space-time, at first glance self-sustaining and unchanging. "My home system. Before it went to shit, anyway, cause it's more of a relic now."

"Mmm, doesn't look special..." I mutter, looking at the dot of a star so far away from us flying through the Oort cloud. While it is a yellow dwarf - so not the most common type of a star - it's certainly not special in any way among billions of other in the galaxy. "Actually, what happened during the Mechanical War?" I ask curiously. Because if something makes it special, it's the humans and the Mechanical War that ravaged it. "I've heard the basics in school, but it's really hard to find concrete answers."

"...It's complicated." Dragha sighs. "You already know about the origin of Mechanical, so I won't be repeating that, but in essence humans back then were split into a whole lot of various countries and factions. You need to know that Earth had already been barely habitable by the end of twenty second century, so it was not a large power in the whole system. There was the Union of Earth, Io Empire, The Republic on Kallisto, Melara Khanate on Ganimedes, then from the spread out factions there was the Combinate, the Exiles - they were the refugees from Melara Khanate - then CyberCorp, which was behind the whole mess, and the Mecahnical that escaped their control, calling themselves Liberated. And a whole lot of smaller organizations and groups." She lists out quickly and looks at me with a lopsided smile.

"So as you can see, it was a huge mess in general, and the fact that CyberCorp was not controlled by humans at all, which was only discovered much later, was the indirect cause of the conflict that had been brewing since years back. Their policies and various decisions caused them to be antagonized by many factions, but because it was a corporation with enough power to rival a nation, no one dared take any measures that actually mattered in the long term. When the Liberated finally acted in the open, no one anticipated CyberCorp would be prepared for a legitimate all-out war, which was more or less what happened."

She pauses for a while and starts tapping on one of the screens quickly. "What followed was a drawn out childish pretense of warfare, with soldiers, political moves, media campaign, and all that. It could have lasted for decades, but it snapped when Moon was hit by a massive fusion warhead. And by massive, I mean powerful enough to destabilize its orbit." She indicates to one of the screens with a distant smile.

It takes me a moment to realize what I'm seeing is actually Earth, merely without Moon, but with a massive ring of rocks spread out in a wide ring around the planet. And when I do realize what I'm seeing, I suck in a cold breath in surprise.

What was supposedly an azure planet in the past - and I've seen images, not only those they showed us in school - is now a dark, grayish chunk of rock with a lot of blue spots and some green and yellow dots, partially obscured by whitish clouds and a brilliant, uneven white ring half the width of the planet, composed of dust and smaller and larger frozen rocks, some big enough to see them individually, I assume at least a hundred kilometers in diameter, maybe even multiple times that. A part of the ring is shaded by the planet, and there are a couple small lights glittering on the dark side of the planet as well as in the shaded ring.

...It's beautiful.

"After Moon's orbit destabilized, Earth had only a few years before it was ruined and everything went to shit when every faction wanted to secure their own and didn't hesitate to use nuclear weaponry to elimite threats." Dragha continues. "Ninety nine point four percent of Sol's population died, majority of remaining people were ironically from the isolated khanate, Mechanical, or on space stations, ships, and the like. And from there begun what we know as the Second Colonial Age." She chuckles without a hint of happiness. "Historians all agree that it was the unarguably very worst period in the whole history of human civilization. In some places the quality of life and technology still haven't recovered to the level from before the war."

"Yeah..." I mutter, staring at the ever so slowly rotating planet on the screen. "So the khanate is the only remaining power from that time? Is there anything interesting apart from them in Sol?"

"Some other factions did last a few more years, but they were too spread out and disorganized. There was Tau Ceti f remaining as well, because it was colonized far before the war, but nothing significant in Sol itself. Though Melara Khanate has spread to many other moons and planets in last centuries, and they are building something of a megastructure orbitting around Earth. Their technology might even be better than Empire's in that regard." Dragha explains as one of the screens on her side starts changing rapidly, apparently having decided she won't bother with tapping it manually for some reason. Likely for speed.

When it settles, it displays what I quickly realize is the whole map of Sol, with the star and planets distinctly visible in the center, but spanning much more than that, as far as the conventional border of Oort cloud goes, which is well over a thousand times wider than the orbit of Neptune. That was the furthest planet in Sol, right?

All of it is obviously not to scale, but I put that to the back of my mind as I notice a massive number of various indicators on the whole map, even including Oort cloud.

"As far as intersting things go though, not limiting ourselves to factions, there is quite a lot of those." Dragha says in a far more cheery tone than before. "There are five discovered wormholes, though only two usable because of the huge distance to the other three, one of them was where we came from and the other is where we're going. It will be one and a half cycle to go there at our speed. Then another one to reach Gaia and we're docking."

"Alright." I nod my head. "So what are the interesting things here?"

"Well, for one there's the megastructure the khanate is building." She taps one of the points on the map and what appears is something at first glance resembling a frame of a... torus? Ringworld? Something between those two? "The thing is four hundred kilometres across and fifteen wide, which is pretty damn impressive, though we're not visiting it since I don't want anything to do with the khanate. Apart from that you can look at asteroids and planets, and everything in between, plus there's a lot of remnants from the Mechanical War. Mainly from destroyed space stations."

"Weren't they salvaged?" I ask curiously and Letty giggles, bobbing up and down lightly as she leans on me.

"You've read too much books." She says with a grin. "It's completely not worth the effort and the costs to salvage those things. It's not bad for a ship like Abyssa, which has its own virtually limitless energy supply, but the fuel costs for anything large enough to take the spoils back would reach ridiculous values. Way higher than anything you could salvage, unless you got really lucky and found some intact piece of technology."

"Mhm, yeah." Dragha nods her head, looking at us two with a small smile. "Your girlfriend got it right." She adds and Letty groans while I giggle. A moment later she seems to have a thought and looks at us with a small smile and curious expression. "Mmm, out of curiosity, I don't want to push you in any direction, but are you planning to take it anywhere further?"

I look at Letty with raised eyebrows and we both shrug after a moment of hesitation, causing her mom to snort.

"It's not like it would change much between us." I say to clarify and glance at Letty with a sly grin. "I'm not saying I'm against it though. More like neutral. Do you wanna marry me, Letty?" I ask casually and she whips her head around, hiding her blush in her arms as Dragha looks at us with a wide grin and lets out a string of nanobots, which she further shapes into a bag of popcorn.


"Helia... You're no fair..." Letty squeaks out and I wrap my arm around her waist with a soft smile, waiting patiently for her.

It's not to come though as a Vela's distinctly awkward voice, likely owed largely to gaining full sentience and understanding what's she's interrupting, comes from the speakers; though what my mind instantly focuses on is not the awkwardness, but alarm and almost distress. "Uh, I'm sorry to interrupt, but we've got a situation." She pauses for a moment, which Dragha takes to hide her popcorn and focus on the display before her, which largely blacks out and quickly lights up with a lot of various diagrams and images. "We have a huge amount of very weird readings, some not far from us, likely originating from the other wormhole, that seem to break some laws of physics. They seem to be alive, likely have something to do with magic, and two are currently headed straight for us, ETA four and eleven minutes respectively."

Dragha seems to shift seamlessly to proffesional attitude, analyzing whatever the display shows her, and Letty looks at me with a bit of hesitation.

"Later." I say quietly to her, squeezing her hand. "As soon as we're done with whatever it is."

She makes a conflicted face at that, but nods a moment later and looks at the display just like her mom and Vela starts explaining... probably to me, if I'm honest. At the same time I see Proton's liquidy form flowing up to the room and quietly taking place up on the bridge above us.

"I can't get a clear reading on them, but their size is in the order of hundreds of meters and they are definitely nothing as simple as asteroids or ships. They are accelerating at almost a hundred G and at least partially break special relativity, which is likely what is messing with my sensors, and additionally the material they are made of doesn't match anything I know."

"Vela, ready the Behemoths. Maximum load. Rotate us so we can shoot." Dragha says tersely and turns to me with grave expression. "Worst case scenario we'll have to rely on you, Helia."

"Sure." I nod my head, noticing that the ship starts rotating against the space in my perception field, and feel Letty squeezing my arm tightly.

"I think... I know what they are." She says quietly with... not scared, but somewhat nervous expression. "Vela, do you have visual?" She asks louder and a panel next to her switches to a weird, shifting image of a... pitch black something. Next to it are a couple different variations in different spectrums.

Just looking at it makes me a little nauseous. It looks... like it shouldn't. Weird shifting shapes, once resembling skin, once flesh, once nothingness, once something yet different that I can't make sense of.

"This is one of the largest, most bizzare. There are a lot of smaller, they look like your ordinary eldritch horrors." A hint of humor colors Vela's voice. "Which doesn't explain what they are and how they got here."

"They are from the Void." Letty says. "I'm almost sure." She turns to me with wide open eyes. "Remeber I told you I spawned in the Abyss? I saw monsters similar to that large thing, just that they were even worse. I told you that there was a monster that bolted towards me, right? It looked like this till it got close. Then... it sorta settled on one massive maw."

"All the more reason to get rid of it." Dragha says in flat voice, apparently having been listening all the while. "Vela? How long till we can fire?"

"Fifty seconds." The AI replies. "Enemy ETA one forty."

"Good." She nods and turns to me again. "Helia? Letty? Can you tell me anything else about those things?"

Hm, I think it's high time I took a good look at the thing. And preferably also the wormhole, because Vela mentioned it is a likely source of the things.

"I assume you've never seen anything like it before?" I ask to make sure and Dragha nods vigorously.

So I tune out the sounds from around me and focus on my perception, extending it out to the monsters multiple thousands of kilometers away, though closing in on the ship at an alarming rate.

They are... dayuuum. "You're not destroying it with an antimatter warhead." I mutter and notice both Dragha and Proton looking at me in shock. "Letty? Remember the Beholder under the island?" I glance at my girlfriend.


"Those things are individually much stronger than that. I'll deal with them." I reply, watching the things in curiosity. "Oh, though still shoot once if you can. I'm curious."

These monsters - I don't know how else I should call them; maybe Voidlings since they are from the Void - are so bizzare I can't exactly comprehend what they are in my current state, but what I see is that they are more than three-dimensional. They look like shapeless, chaotic blobs looking only from three-dimensional point of view, but I'm pretty sure they are in reality multi-layered vaguely biological organisms living in multiple sorta pocket dimensions and chaotically showing them when they don't wish to bring out one specific... body, but I use that term loosely since they have only one, just built on different principles because of their - and that's one thing that I really pay attention to - Void Energy, or at least what I assume is Void Energy.

That's what it feels like, and I've learned to trust what I feel lately. The massive concentration of energy feels about ten times stronger than mana and really reminds me of that one black abomination I defeated long ago during my journey through another dimensional layer. And I have to say, density I can approximate to be over a thousand units doesn't look particularly well.

Or wouldn't, if not for what I learned about myself. Now it doesn't look scary at all, just that based on my approximations of what infusing a body with various energies results in, I've gotta say that thing is probably borderline impossible to destroy using any kind of modern weaponry, even the latest inventions like antimatter warheads, which were conceptualized centuries ago, but only recently actually built.

Early tests included shattering of a moon about third of the diameter of Luna. And yet, I can't see it killing the thing before me - maybe heavily wounding, but it would be impossible to kill it, if only because I doubt it would reach its whole body in all the layers it's stretched across.

I wonder how the electromagnetic cannon will do against it, though I don't have high hopes. The ship is just about finishing the rotation and positioning itself sideways to the enemy approaching a little from the side, and I watch in amazement as the massive, sixty meters long rails on each side extend from their casings. They don't stay in the state I've seen them on the projection Letty showed me, but they are pulled towards each other with circular rings extending from their sides and connecting them into one massive forty centimeters wide barrel - on the inside, that is.

On the outside it becomes a slab of metal about three by eight meters in size - still over fifty in length - which gives a good approximation of its power. Modern electromagnetic cannons are usually no larger than a tenth of that size, but a single slog of metal from them can supposedly easily rip through an average corvette. And while I'm not certain what takes up all that space inside the thing - I see it, but I'm not nearly knowledgeable and experienced enough to even guess what each part is doing - it is definitely not bland filling, but something contributing to the cannon's power.

After a moment of admiring the intricate mechanism I hear Vela's voice coming from the speakers, likely more for the rule and effect of it. "Brace for impact. Firing in five, four, three, two, one, fire."

With the last word I open my eyes wide when the ship harmlessly, but distinctly jostles to the side despite the antigravitons, and I watch through my perception field as a massive slug of metal gets ejected from each barrel, on either side of the ship, at an unbelievable speed. Easily hundreds of thousands meters per second, and likely even higher.

They both slam into the enemy on our tail and I watch in amazement as two pieces of dark flesh cave in and ripple - almost like water surface after you toss a stone into a pond - while the metal literally splashes in all directions as if it was no more solid than water. They predictably fail to hurt the monster in any meaningful way, but just the fact that they manage to cause fractures in the flesh and break the skin in places is already really impressive for a weapon utilizing pure science without magic.

"You could probably clear out the fodder, but that large thing is way to powerful for Abyssa." I tell Dragha and Proton as they watch the display with bated breaths. They both turn to me in surprise, but don't manage to ask any questions before I continue. "I'll be killing it, and probably more of them. I'll need to check what brought them here and destroy it if it's still there, cause humans have no chance against that as they are." I finally focus on my sight and turn to Letty on my side, with a massive grin on my face. "You wanna join? I think I'll be showing you what I told you about."

Her eyes widen distinctly at that and she nods her head slowly. "Yeah, I wanna see that." She whispers, seemingly barely suppressing her anticipation.

"Let's go then. We'll be back in a while." I take her arm and teleport outside the ship while conserving our speed, causing us to fly beside the ship - which, by the way, I think I see from outside for the first time?

It's shaped like a large cuboid, over two hundred meters in length, sixty in height, and forty in width. At its front it is rounded not unlike space shuttles, while at the back it ends in a shape like a sideways barrel, with multiple thrusters and other instruments attached. Plus, obviously, the sphere at the back of the ship, with a pair of massive electromagnetic cannons.

"Nice." I say, then realize we've in the void where sounds can't travel. Um, put a tiny bit of Primordial Energy to my mouth, and transmit sounds to Letty's ears? "Nice." I say again, and my girlfriend turns her head in surprise and nods her head eagerly as I see a strand of Nihility connecting to my ear.

"Mhm, it looks really good from the outside." She replies. "It's much different from most ships, especially those old ones, because of artificial gravity. Many ships don't have it, but those are unable to land. Generally different rules apply to them."

"Mmm." I nod my head. Most of small ships, those that for various reasons can't have artificial gravity installed, as well as many large ones, look like long poles with various devices attached on the sides and a torus where the living quarters and all are. "Well, let's get to it, shall we?" I turn to the monster, which is barely visible in the distance. Voidling.

I smile, taking a deep breath. This will be... interesting. My second time pushing my mind, or rather existence, up, and first time doing it purposefully and actually aware of what I'm doing.

...I'm a little scared, honestly.

LilRora Tired, head empty. Next chappy probably in a week.

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