[su_accordion] Chapter 163: The Return to Deus Ex[/su_accordion]
After ending the ‘lesson’ with my mother and Kismet, I stayed in the cargo bay for a while, focusing on the moves that they had used. Even if I did not have too long to study them at the time, I had been able to record them with my brain augments. So, it was easy to look back and review it all over again. As time passed, people began leaving the hangar, until it was just me and Celeste.
“You totally cheated, you know?” She asked with a grin, the first words she had said since arriving here with us.
“Yeah, but I couldn’t really help it, right?” I chuckled, shaking my head. “They definitely had me beat in terms of ability, so I had to do what I was good at.”
Celeste nodded. “That’s right. So, how would you rate the two of them?” When I lifted my eyebrow curiously, she smirked wryly. “You know they’ve both been wanting to get in the combat teams. I know you don’t want to put your own mother in a dangerous position, but you have to admit that you just saw their strength.”
Well, I couldn’t really disagree with that. “That’s true… Though I don’t really know who I’d team them up with.”
“How about Ackbar? You haven’t been using him enough lately. I doubt he’s ever going to say ‘It’s a trap’ like you keep hoping.” That made me laugh. “Seriously, he should be around their level. And there is also Aelsgwynn. She’s made some good progress with her fire magic since we had our extended vacation. As for a last one… it’d be nice to stick them with a healer, so how about Priscilla?”
I looked at her curiously. “Didn’t think Priscilla wanted to join any combat teams. She seemed more like the researching type.”
Celeste grinned. “Yeah, you’re right. Well, I’ll think about finding another healer to stick with them. Can’t really have an all-damage party and expect survivability.”
I nodded, and Celeste left the cargo bay as well. So, back to reviewing! I went over every aspect of the lesson, and the various techniques that they had displayed, trying to reproduce them from start to finish. First, what my mom showed me at the beginning.
Standing still, I wrapped myself in dark mana, infusing it into my body and drifting down into my shadow. But, that’s where the first problem came up. Has mom started using her darkness sight again? I wondered, and began tying my senses to dark mana as well. I hadn’t done this in a while, but it was still fairly easy to reproduce. If she did it like this, she could still ‘see’ me..
Next, a part I was much more familiar with. I created a copy of myself with dark mana. Though, I was only recreating the appearance, and not the aura. I was pretty sure that she hadn’t gone that deep in her shadow clones.
Like this, I continued for the rest of the day, until I had at least copied the basics of every move they made. Really though, it was only the moves my mom used that took some effort to reproduce. Kismet’s techniques were simply new applications of dark mana’s ability to create things from shadows. That was easy enough to see through.
For the next two weeks, I sought out help from many of Sharon’s animals in order to help instruct me in the rest of the basic elements. As for the rest… well, I’d be on my own. The only nonstandard element I share with anyone is Time Element, and I’m not sure how deep Tokemi has trained it.
Anyways, I learned a few things that were rather interesting. Most of the seven basic elements, aside from light and dark, didn’t seem to have so much profoundness in them. For instance, while you could pull out fire mana from an object to freeze it, it did not get any deeper than that. Fire manipulation was basically just for heating and cooling. Though, each element did have their own ‘elemental body’, which basically converts your entire being into that element. This is different from becoming an elemental, because you do not have the almost omnipotent control over that element around you.
At least my training did give me some new ideas on how to use each element, though. That should let me be a bit more useful if we run into a real powerhouse. After all, I couldn’t exclude the possibility that there was someone else out there like me who had learned cheat-like abilities on the enemy side. So, until we reached the Deus Ex world, I spent most of my time in the cargo bay, practicing the techniques that I had acquired.
Surprisingly, my Mana Manipulation skill finally showed a slight gain in experience, something that hadn’t happened in a while. It wasn’t much, mind you, but that was still something. That skill hadn’t improved for a long time, so any increase was welcome.
Finally, we arrived at the border of the Deus Ex space. Fearing that they may simply open fire at anyone that trespassed in their territory, we first sent out a short-range broadcast to get their attention. If they really want us dead, there’s not a whole lot we can do about it, but at least we can prevent it from being an accidental shooting.
“This is John Hulett of the Ariadne, here to speak with a representative of the Deus Ex. Please do not shoot us, as it would be extremely rude.” Just in case, I preemptively extended my mana senses out beyond the top of the ship, just as I had during the fight against the space dragon. Worst case scenario, I might be able to buy us a few seconds to run like crazy.
There was a delay of a few minutes, and I was considering just barging in, before a message responded. “John Hulett. This is Unit X-55A9. Your identity has been verified and you are clear to enter Deus Ex space. We are aware of the purpose behind your visit, and a representative is waiting to converse.”
Well… that went better than expected, I guess. I let out a sigh of relief, before ordering the ship to proceed. “Where can I go to–” I was suddenly shrouded in a white light while sitting in my captain’s chair, and in the space of a blink I had moved to sitting at a large table. “Meet the… well, that was unexpected….”
Okay, new priority, get shields that can stop teleports! That is just every kind of bad news if people could send nukes directly into the ship. Celeste’s voice rang out in my mind as I thought that. “We do have anti-spell shields… but they used a pure technological teleport. Will need to get specific jamming shields to prevent that as the next upgrade.”
I nodded my head slightly, and looked around. Aside from myself, there was only one other person in this room, a rather obvious robot sitting at the far end of the table. Although this one had two arms and two legs, thus giving it a very basic human frame, its eye sockets were deep, with two tiny glowing dots. It had a set of jaws, but obviously no teeth, making it seem even more unnatural, and it regarded me with indifference as I observed it.
“John Hulett. We received news that you would be coming here. You wish to ask for aid against the New Human Alliance, correct?” He, and it was obviously a male voice even if it sounded like it was speaking through a fan, did not move in the slightest as he asked me that.
“That’s right. The Deus Ex are currently the only other power with a large enough force to spare anyone. Not to mention that your technology far outclasses any of the other known races.” The representative gave an almost imperceptible nod when I said that.
“Agreed. However, our numbers are lacking. While we can spare some ships with automated crew, there have not been enough ‘monsters’ spawning to replenish our numbers to an acceptable degree. Currently, we do not have the capability to send anyone with you, without compromising our own defenses.”
Damn… that does make sense, though… They just got done waging a war with the soulless robots, and probably don’t want to make anyone else if they can’t immediately convert them to a Deus Ex. But… “What if I could get you an easy supply of monster spawns? That way you could increase your numbers as quickly as you want.”
I wasn’t sure, but I thought his blue LED eyes brightened when I said that. “Is this within your capabilities?”
I nodded my head. “That’s right. I can create an area where you can spawn monsters as frequently as you want. The only requirement is someone has to be there with enough mana to activate it. But, I doubt that you don’t have anyone capable of that.”
“Indeed. Using the information you left behind during your previous ‘visit’, we determined that it would be wise to divert some of our resources to developing this new energy.” There was a brief pause, as he seemed to be debating something. “Very well, your suggestion has been approved. If you provide us with the means of increasing our numbers more rapidly, we shall dispatch a suitable fleet to join you. The time limit will depend upon the new speed of producing Deus Ex.”
They are being very reasonable… This isn’t a bad thing, at least. “Alright. Once you decide where you want me to put it, I can get started. I don’t need any specific materials.”
No sooner had I finished saying that, then the white light appeared around me again. This time, when it faded, I fell flat on my butt. After all, there was not a chair under me anymore. It’s not like I would magically adjust my posture during the teleport, unfortunately. Around me, I heard various sounds of snarling, and turned to find caged monsters surrounding me. Some were hound-like, with sharp metal spikes protruding from their backs. Some were flying discs, banging against the invisible walls of their cage.
A moment later, another white light flashed, and the representative appeared. “This is where we keep the current supply of ‘monsters’. The goal was to wait for a suitable breeding pair to emerge, but these do not seem to follow that biological imperative. This was most troubling, as we were forced to wait for them to appear naturally.”
Extending my senses again, I saw that there were maybe two hundred monsters in this facility. “Wow… Well, this will do, at least.” I shrugged, looking around to find a large enough area.
“Excellent. This was the only other facility on the planet that currently possesses an atmosphere breathable by your standards. It would have been inconvenient to require additional facilities.”
Ah… is that why they are teleporting me around, because I wouldn’t be able to breathe otherwise? Well, I could just turn into a Void Elf, but they probably don’t know about that. I simply nodded my head, until I found an empty patch of metal floor about five meters wide. This seemed to be the biggest free space in the immediate area, so I decided to work with it.
Kneeling down, I placed one hand on the floor, and working. This was a simple matter, as all I really needed to do was flex my Metal Manipulation ability. All around me, a spell diagram began forming, the lines etching themselves into the metal floor. The process took maybe five minutes, runes slowly forming on the ground before it was done. This was a formation I had used far too many times in the past, so it did not take me long to complete.
Once I was done, I gave a slight nod and stood up. “Alright, it’s done. As long as you put mana into the circle, it will work. Like so.” To give a demonstration, I put some of my own mana into the diagram. As I did, the lines began lighting up, showing its activation. More lights of multiple colors rushed into the spell circle, gathering at a single point before forming into a new shape.
Like my original training formation, this one was simply designed to summon an ettin. Big, dumb, with two heads and a bad temper. As soon as it appeared, it seemed like an automatic response was triggered. A white light appeared around the ettin, and it vanished, appearing a short distance away in a previously unoccupied cage.
The representative of the Deus Ex observed for a while, before speaking. “This is acceptable. Within one hour, we will know the amount of time needed to produce sufficient numbers. At that time, we will resume contact.”
I was going to respond, but the same white light appeared around me, and I found myself standing back on the bridge, meeting the gazes of some rather surprised crew members. They really need to learn how to properly talk to people…