Tan Lingyun laughed scornfully. “Men only care about face. If you can beat me, then you go ahead and be group leader.” Suddenly, without any further discussion she launched herself at Wang Hongyuan. Like a great bird of prey, she lashed out at the twisted man.
As her figure rose in to the air, that sensation of gathering energy returned anew. It surrounded her like the moments before an explosion.
Lan Jue’s conjectures were finally confirmed, and he knew her ability; Sapurnatural!
It was an exceedingly rare and equally special Discipline to possess. It allowed her to employ the energies of the environment around her – any environment – to augment her own physical abilities. Even in the vacuum of space she’d be able to draw the radiation of the universe in to herself, making her stronger. It meant no matter where she found herself in a fight, she was ready to manipulate the environment to her advantage. She was never not on home turf.
This was the first time Lan Jue had encountered someone with a real Supernatural Discipline. He’d heard that, fifty years ago, there once was a Paragon with such an ability. Though he eventually suffered his own downfall, in his prime he was among the most powerful people to ever live.
This ability of hers explained how she was able to communicate with the land around her, to feel the fear she claimed the plants were feeling. Hers was clearly a very powerful ability. She had spread her power out through the environment, becoming one with it. So it wasn’t merely her, but everything around them, that gave her such capabilities.
Wang Hongyuan stood directly in the face of her onslaught, unmoving. He spread his arms, and two large black wings extended from his back. They beat once, and suddenly he was at Tan Lingyun’s side. His clawed hands reached for her shoulders.
This was a conflict, but his attacks were measured. He wasn’t aiming to kill her. Tan Lingyun was surprised at the sudden shift, her reaction slow. Just slow enough for Wang Hongyuan to get her in his grasp.
The man’s pride was suddenly upset when he got the sudden sensation he was holding some indestructible metal thing. As his hands found their mark, Tan Lingyun’s shoulder reversed, slamming directly in to his chest.
His reaction was swift, dropping his chest and collapsing his abdomen. The wings at his back beat furiously. He looked for a moment as though he were flying upside down, but in fact it was just the speed of his retreat that caused the illusion. It wasn’t a solid hit, but he still felt the spasm in the pit of his stomach.
Sure enough, this was the power of the Savage Goddess. Wang Hongyuan felt a tremor of fear snake through him. He knew he was no weak thing, but the abilities this woman possessed were far beyond his own.
Tan Lingyun grunted. She reached a hand out towards him, her fist squeezing in the air. Wang Hongyuan felt, moments later, as though the very space around him was condensing. The speed he took so much pride in was being sapped away.
The Savage Goddess took a deep breath. The fresh green aura that surrounded her bloomed to life in a dazzling display, As it did, it congealed at her back to reveal an enormous viridian phantasm. The towering beast raised it’s hand, and sent it crashing down towards the black-winged electives instructor.
Lan Jue unconsciously winced, shutting his eyes. It was like Wang Hongyuan was little more than a fly, smooshed by a giant invisible swatter. He crumpled to the ground.
The green light around her faded. She turned her head to look at the rest of them. “Anyone else want to give it a shot?”
Not a peep.
Tan Lingyun’s growling voice continued. “We are leaving. Now. Back to base camp.” She gave no further room for argument. Jin Yan yelped as their group leader unceremoniously threw her over her shoulder. The two other electives teachers were then caught in her grip, one hand for each. Just like that, she was off at a good pace.
The two other mecha instructors hastened to follow. Lan Jue took one look at Wang Hongyuan, then followed their lead.
“Professor Tan, what are we going to do about Professor Wang?” Jin Yan asked, bouncing against Tan Lingyun’s back.
“Relax,” she said, “He’s a stubborn one. He’ll be fine. He’ll be coming along shortly I’m sure.”
Lan Jue remained in the back. Secretly he harbored criticisms, for although Wang Hongyuan’s vampiric discipline was indeed one hard to kill, that slap he’d received definitely wasn’t gentle! Poor guy…
Not along after the others left – a few minutes perhaps – Wang Hongyuan finally managed to pull himself up. The ground below him was actually indented with an outline of his body.
So recently devastated by his opponent, the pride and arrogance had left the man’s eyes. It was replaced with a clear sense of anxiety, doubt.
“An eighth ranked Talent? That woman’s actually that strong?”
He ground his teeth. With a few beats of his leathery wings, he was off chasing after the others.
A great, earth-shaking boom tore across the horizon, not long after Lan Jue and his party had begun their escape.
Hooooouuhhmm! From the depths of the rainforest, a blinding red light arose. Within it was an oval, a massive scarlet cocoon. Where it made landfall, the area around it has also turned a strange sort of violet. An unhealthy-looking fog of similar color snaked close to the ground.
A small animal, some strange nameless beast, made it’s way over from a distance. In the grips of curiosity it stumbled in to the mist, but the moment the strange tendrils touched it, it’s hair began to fall out. Then skin, muscle, organs, and finally bones. It dissolved in to a primordial ooze. With the creatures death a faint red light wafted from it, which was drawn in to the nearby cocoon and vanished.
Brrrrmmm! A low growl emitted from the strange object. The cocoon swelled larger, reaching outward, then returned to normal.
Pffftt. The ratting release of air followed, and then a blade-thin object jabbed out from within it. As the egg was pierced, a flood of thick violet fluid was excreted.
Again and again the oval was pierced, shredded, as though some enormous beast was trying to cut it’s way free.
Scenes very similar to this one were occurring throughout Taihua’s pristine rainforests.
Lan Jue ran after the group ahead of him. But as he did, a strange sensation came over him and he lifted his eyes to the sky. The dense vegetation cover made it indistinct, but it was clear that somehow in the last few moments the sky had grown dark. An ethereal grey hue crept across the planet.
Tan Lingyun’s judgments were correct. There was definitely something happening here.
Lan Jue deliberately began to slow his pace, falling back from the others. He raised his left hand, and pointed the shimmering green ring on his pinky fingers towards the forest. The green light within shot out in to the leafy depths.
“What’s up with you, out of strength?” Tan Lingyun had turned around to call back at him.
“Huh? No, I’m fine. Coming.” Lan Jue quickly shouted back, and picked up the pace.
Eeee! Eeee! Eeee! Just then, the ear-splitting screeches of an alarm were issued from the communicators of each teacher’s wrist.
“Red alert, red alert. Taihua has come under attack from an unidentified source. All tourists make your way to the quickest base camp as quickly as possible. Repeat, red alert…”
The alarm confirmed, without a doubt, Tan Lingyun’s suspicions. The two electives teachers who’s earlier struggled to keep up found no such troubles now. As they raced along, panic was written clear as day on their faces.
Aaaaaahhh! A shrill cry suddenly filled the air. The sound caused Wu Junyi’s face to slacken.
He dropped in to a slight crouch, then sprung in to the air. He effortlessly soared a dozen meters before pulling himself against the top of a towering tree.
He saw the scene unfold, not far away. A scowl carved lines in his face.
An enormous creature stood in the forests. It’s violet figure was perhaps ten meters tall, with three heads and six razor-sharp wings. It stood on four enormous, sturdy legs. It’s abdomen was a layered field of magenta, alternating in intensity. It’s torso was triangular, and from the sides six great arms like a mantis’ claws swept at the air like vicious scythes. The articulated pincers were each seven meters long, and as Wu Junyi looked on, the beast cleared a ten meters area of land around it with them. The giant, sturdy trees were felled like butter before a warm knife.
More unsettling than it’s appearance was the mist that was expelled from it. The violet wisps changed everything it came in to contact with, tinting them that same sickly color. Any plant or animal that came in to contact with it immediately withered and died. Whatever it was, the mist devoured whatever life it touched. From where he watched, Director Wu could see a figure, human, lying on the ground as the mist crept over. A teacher, and before his eyes they melted away under the noxious cloud.
“Bastard!” Wu Junyi shouted at the monstrous thing in a rage. His curled fists rose nearly of their own accord and beat against his chest. He brazenly roared, and leapt from the tree.
Wu Junyi’s normally unimpressive stature swelled as he soared towards the beast. His clothes split and fell away, and before long the teaching director had become a towering, six-meter tall baboon.
His entire body was covered in a dark copper light, and each hair stood on end. His arms were particularly strong, and they reached out as he shot like a cannonball towards the creature.
“Go, hurry! Get back to camp and board the plane!” Wu Junyi’s thunderous voice echoed across the rainforests. Nearby instructors almost tumbled over themselves to flee.
Roughly half of the teachers who’d arrived for the trip taught electives. Most possessed no real combat abilities. And though the others were mecha instructors, naturally none brought mechas with them on vacation!
Now, all they could do was run around like headless chickens.
The mantis-like monstrosity spied Wu Junyi barreling towards it through the air. It’s six razor-like appendages lashed out at him.
“Raaaaaggghh!!” The enormous baboon howled threateningly, bashing his fists against his chest. As he careened nearer, a dull golden light fired out from him. As it crashed against the beast’s pincers, they were cast away. Unimpeded, Wu Junyi headed straight for the monster’s three hideous heads.
But the mantis-beast was surprisingly nimble, it’s four legs strong. It sidestepped and avoiding the attack.
Boom! Wu Junyi crashed to the ground instead. His two strong legs carved deep trenches where he made landfall.
Clank, chink, screech! A series of metallic squeals arose. The beast had made a move of it’s own, and was swiping murderously at Wu Junyi’s back.