The Power of Ten: Sama Rantha Chapter 440: Far Future Ch. 150 – Hide in the Shadows, or Rule from Them...
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He gaped despite himself, and I politely told him to wipe the Mark. He centered his Helix on it, and the connection was disrupted instantly, the magic in it leeched away and gone a breath after that. The ink was still there, the vestigial pattern was ready to connect again, but there was nothing to empower it.
"You are bigger in the mindscape..." he whispered to me, shocked at what he'd seen. It was pretty much impossible to Veil down against a Void Brother, after all. He had to look at me and see me as I was. "Are you a goddess incarnate?" he had to ask.
"No. That is the wrong question you should be asking. What you should be asking is... why aren't I as awesome as she is?" I waved my hand at the elders, then at everyone watching and listening to us all around. "Why aren't they?"
He swallowed. "Is that even possible?" he had to ask.
I just snorted. "A Void Brother, the favored of the Land, is asking me what is not possible concerning how powerful a person can get." I just rolled my eyes, and the girls shook their heads, and despite himself, he smiled.
He finally realized that the reason we had such respect for him was that we knew just how powerful he could be, and we didn't see him as an inferior.
"Connect me back," he whispered. "Elders, come here, and let them Mark you. You must see this..."
Hesitantly, the group of older hyn stepped forth, and if they were reluctant and afraid, the four of us were so casual about it their fears just couldn't really come out.
The 50 Charismas helped too, but that was a side issue.
Once again, our plans went off the deep rail because of shit going on, but hey, that's what life was all about.
First of all, I sent out an order to Colby that she was to get 200 members of her Curseline started, as she was going to be our hyn ambassador. She whooped and got started on the process of making more short Ranthas. His shaded eyes popping, the father she selected was our new Void Brother associate, as she came striding through the Rift we cut open in the air to Habberblok. She was cute as a button and was pleased as punch to be among people she could lord it over, and brought a tent and blankets and picked up Brother Shadowknife over her shoulder and scampered off into the Fane to be about her business, to the wide eyes of the hyn.
A few dozen Ranthas with ready Sword Focuses piled through to get them treated at the Fane, and to help with all the Marks getting laid down. There were a lot of gaping hyn around as they got done, and suddenly the whole potential of the Markscape and all the many, many people within were laid out before them... and there was the Map and everything connected with it for them to just gawk out, and there own experiences were filling into it even as they watched...
Two universes were much bigger than they thought...
When that was over, the cold hard planning started, as the elders realized how much stuff was out there that they could get their hands on it without having to knife someone to do it... and all the stuff they might have wanted to learn to get stronger was right there, not something they had to stumble through, test out, learn haphazardly, or anything.
Akashic links. Telepathic instructions. Leveling paths, advice, recommendations, choices, possibilities.
Wham, it was all down right in front of them, a wide road with markers, trailposts, ends in sight, goals, ways to measure, everything.
No more stumbling around on half-learned or experimental paths haphazardly passed down by elders via imperfect means and methods. No, this was all laid out for them, and the things which had cost them so much time and effort could be passed on and learned with blistering speed and precision by those they needed to teach.
Things were going to be very different for the next generation!
They looked at the arrays of martial techniques, Soul Feats, methods to use Ki, and the fact they could all become Null Psions at Seven, the fact that there might be even more Shadowknives among them, what they could get by hitting Seven, and how much easier the right Mark made it to hit Seven.
Man, it was like injecting a load of stimulants into the whole tribe.
After he recovered from his night with Colby, and was trying to digest that he was going to have two hundred children in a few months, Brother Shadowknife opened a whole new world for us.
There was more than one tribe of hyn, of course. All of them were led by their Void Brothers, who protected them against horrors seen and unseen in the Underweb, hunted down truly dangerous enemies, and led their hunters and scouts above and below ground. Sometimes, the Gloom called them away on truly dangerous tasks, and they would gather with others of their own to deal with Warp incursions, Aberrant creatures in the wilds of the Underweb, or even escaped creatures that couldn't be allowed to grow or reproduce.
Bringing Marks to them and linking up the different tribes across the lands of Gloom was certainly not anything we objected to. Brother Shadowknife wanted to see the results of cooperation with us first, of course, but we weren't just going to sit around, so it was time to go visiting Portals he knew of in the local area.
And, naturally enough, he recruited us to kill stuff as we went, to which he was amazed that we didn't have any objection.
My reply was, "Brothers show the way. Sources lead, Nulls follow. We're Nulls. Show us the way, Brother."
Excitement naturally ensued.
He was conferring with the Void Brothers back home, especially My Queen, and our collective memories of the Void Brothers outside in Creation. The Shadowknife ability to Cut Time compared with the general Void Brother ability to Cut Life meant that in the space of one day, our Shadowknife went from a deadly sneak attacker to absolutely murderous however he attacked. Showing him the Shadow Stalking techniques to build upon what he already knew with profound abilities on top of raw skill and talent, and it wasn't just the other hyn of the tribe that began to grow explosively. That he could start cultivating a Void Psionic Reserve, and suddenly start enhancing the mentalists of the tribe, was also key.
To say we ignited a thirst for Karma in many members of the tribe was not at all wrong, and the local umbvar tribes and many dangerous creatures in the area rapidly began to suffer for it.
As for the four of us, Brother Shadowknife led us on a sightseeing trip through all the fun and scenic parts of Gloom, filled with stunning vistas, jaw-dropping scenery changes, fine displays of native animal and plant life, and oh so much gratuitous violence to warm our hearts.
Photomorphic natives and aberrants were definitely an interesting time. We thanked him repeatedly for the entertainment, he realized we were totally crazy... and started to go a little crazy himself as he started to realize what a total freaking badass he could be.
Oh, the Gloom was going to be a-changing in the future...
Epic overland journey to the greatest hive of scum and villainy in the galaxy became a reaping tour of many different locations with a local guide. There were dark and filthy holes and things in them that desperately needed to be killed... and so we killed them. Sometimes in great numbers. Brother Shadowknife started really getting into the groove of things once he realized he could finally start doing that, too.
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We visited other tribes of hyn. The first thing he had them do is wipe away his Mark, to prove they could do it. Then they got their own, things opened up, rapid fire telepathic communication started taking place, and more Shadowknives began to learn how to Cut Time.
Oh, the times, they were a-changing. The Underweb was going to be a very different place, and although the hyn were going to be getting very dangerous, they were still outnumbered by orders of magnitude, so contesting with the drow and umbvar was definitely not on the agenda. Being bullied by them, on the other hand...
Unfortunately for us, the Portals the Brothers took us to in this area were all on this side of the Rift, which made sense. Some of them were to points out in space, others to barren rocks, dead moons, abandoned planets... but they were scattered around the sector, and gave us instant access to new systems and locations... and the Umbrans and Coronals were very interested in those locations.
Granted, the drow didn't use them much, if at all, as they were largely in systems of light importance, or completely forgotten and only known to the hyn because the Shadowknives could feel them sitting around.
But it meant that instead of having to move real-space to a planet to get a new Rift-cutting fix, we could just pop out the other side of one of these Portals, get the lock, and have a new place we could send people.
Of course, the Twilight Guys and Thunder Captain Dornal really wanted to be able to send ships through our little Rifts, but that wasn't happening (yet!), and we weren't going to be opening the elvar Portals and broadcasting the fact that we were using them, as that could create all sorts of troubles.
Nope, we just cut open a Rift to the area the Portals were tied to, got our locations fix, and went back. Simple and clean. Our Swords could convey rough locations to one another as they improved enough to be able to Rift-cut themselves.
This also meant the Ranthas now getting scattered all over the Sector were making their Weapons Rift-cutters, getting dimensional coordinates to Gloom, and opening up Rifts to their current locations, giving us potential locks to populated worlds and systems.
Now, the problem was that the Swords could only do precise Rifts close to areas they'd been to themselves. So, those blade-rifts into Gloom were to random locations... and random locations in a sub- dimension linked to a whole galaxy could be a long, long ways apart. Linking things back up and together meant having common travel points for everyone, where people could converge, open up Rifts and give tracking points to one another, and basically share knowledge.
Rough investigations into the Underweb and our purloined memories broadly measured it as being the size of a great gas giant, i.e. they'd basically stolen a giant planet and turned it into a pocket dimension inside Gloom. This immense area of millions of cubic miles was webbed with tunnels the size of small continents, complete with hard vacuum in the middle of them they could fly fleets of starships through. The resulting surface area exceeded the gas giant in potential size vastly, and for a galactic-class on and off ramp, needing to potentially accommodate hundreds of billions, even trillions of Portals to stars and worlds, it actually wasn't too big... and as it accumulated more Gloom-matter, was actually growing over time, despite the pressure of the Warp.
Safe estimates put the Underweb as somewhere between a hundred and a hundred and fifty thousand miles across in a straight line. As there were no straight lines, that was rather moot. This mostly-circular distance was laced with web-like tunnels sized anywhere from fifty-meter capillaries to hundreds of miles across for the main arteries.
The main arteries tended to have the most commonly used Portals, as this living world would expand in the direction of the Portals that saw increased use over time in response to the psionic activity there. Likewise, the more sentient individuals congregated in a location, the bigger the tunnel would be.
Gloomheart was basically the equivalent of an ecumenopolis, the drow city covering the inside of a sphere the size of a planet at the heart of the Underweb, illuminated by a dying sun that powered hundreds of commonly used Portals in the skyrings above the city. Thousands of great arteries spilled away from the city to minor realms and holdings ruled by families or factions of drow or even umbvar, but they had little effect on the city proper and its various districts and divisions, split up along lines both classical economic and dire philosophy, as the four divisions of thought among the drow were major sparks of conflict among them.
Of course, what all this meant to a Rantha was... biggest dungeon evah!
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