Chapter 850: The Alpha Avatar

    Chapter 850: The Alpha Avatar

    When the creature opened its eyes Lan Jue could feel the true power of the avatar. This beast was stronger than the Violet Prince and Princess. There was a flash, and suddenly the undulating walls of the vessels they'd traversed were gone. Now they found themselves in a boundless world of violet.

    More specifically the 'floor' was violet, and the sky was the same shade of purple-gold as the avatar's eyes. The deep, sick hue painted the humans who were caught in it in similar colors. They stood side by side with Lan Jue in the middle. To his left was Zhou Qianlin, and to his right the Pharmacist.

    Each of them glowered, but there was no sign of fear or cowardice.

    Before accepting the mission they all knew there was a real chance they wouldn't make it back. Nevertheless they came, because even the slightest chance of success could mean the rest of their people survived.

    Early success had did not make them overconfident. And now, they ran into an unexpected problem.

    "You knew we were coming?" Lan Jue asked in even tones.

    Monarch's response was similarly tepid. "I knew the moment you were brought here. This is my body, did you think you could sneak around unnoticed? I can feel that this weapon is somehow connected to you - it led you here, to the center of me. You are foolish to assume we are not wise enough to protect ourselves."

    Lan Jue was silent, in fact he had not thought Ultus would bring them to the center of Monarch's planetary body. If they could destroy it...

    The Avatar went on. "In fact, everything you tried to accomplish here has been in vain. We are nearing the end of our ascension, and as we three merge into one the immortal realm we deserve shall be created. Immortal Realm... a phrase we've taken from the memories of your people. We find it fitting. Your sad species has ceased its growth, but there is much in your genetic material that we can draw upon. I can feel that the three of you are outstanding among your people - you possess real potential for growth. If you submit yourselves and allow us to plant our seed within your protogenia you will live on as a part of immortality."

    A fervent light burned in the monster's eyes. "In truth we did not seek to make an enemy of your species. You were nothing more than food. Your people have experience with the realm of immortals, you should know that the universe is their creation. It is nothing more than a body - the largest and most powerful of bodies. It is within this body that I was born, here that I evolved, but when I became too strong what you call universal protogenia began to reject me. It fought back against us, draining our live force. We have had to consume whatever living things we come across in order to survive."

    "However I never saw the universe as selfish. Universal protogenia was our test, to ensure we were strong enough to replace it. Like everything the universe must adapt and grow. We believe there is not one universe but many, and they constantly consume the weak in order to strengthen the self. In the process they evolve, and the simplest way to do so it to be replaced. The strong overcome the weak. Once we create our immortal realm a conflict with this universe will become inevitable. If we defeat it, then our reality will become the new reality, we will control all of this dimension. If we fail another species will rise to make the same attempt.

    "Perhaps the immortal realm your species created went through this process already. Maybe it was victorious, maybe it was not. For several millennia the nature of universal protogenia has not changed, and it remains a way to test whether or not a species is worthy of taking control. The creation of such a realm is the only way for us to grow stronger until, one day, the time has come for us to test ourselves against the universe. Is there not a phrase your elders have used? 'In the beginning, one became two.' Taiji, yin and yang, split from the pureness of being to create all that we see. What your elders called that purity was nothing more than the universe we exist within - the very beginning of it. A single body or consciousness. Through it the many worlds were created, as were we. Just as it evolved so must we."

    "After countless years of struggle, we are close to the first step. Finally we are at the threshold to creating a new universe to challenge the old. You would not support this endeavor? You have the potential to achieve success, should we not work together toward perfection? We can make it stronger, strong enough to challenge the universe itself. It is the same goal the strongest of your species also pursue."

    Lan Jue saw the zeal in Monarch's eyes, faced him with a stoic expression. "There is some truth to what you say. But everything you've done - the aggression you've shown to all races, the destruction you've wrecked, all you've consumed - it's nothing benevolent. We call it 'survival of the fittest,' and at its heart that means survival."

    "There is no denying that yours is an apex species. You've grown wise. But you also have a fatal flaw, and that is you feel nothing. You lack the most fundamental part of being human - emotion. As a result you are nothing more than machines that take and consume. Saw you succeed. You create your realm, overcome this universe and even conquer all the rest. What then? Toward what end? Your quest is eternal and will never bring you happiness because you don't even know what that feels like. Or perhaps you do, but it is nothing like what we humans know."

    "We also value strength, but existence is about more than accumulating power. Kinship, love, friendship, countless experiences for us to enjoy. Through our exploration we have also been aggressive, but we can appreciate the beauty of the universe we find ourselves in. It's a part of who we are, curious to explore the unknown and reflect on its majesty. We don't have just one thing that we pursue, but many. Our evolution has been slow but we don't care. We enjoy the process. Being quick to accomplish something doesn't always lead to happiness."

    "I'm sure that the closest you've ever come to contentment was when you started your evolution. Over time you grew strong and felt the universe begin to bear down on you. You were left with no option but to struggle in perpetuity for a way to become mightier than the thing that was keeping you down. Your fledgling sense of joy was never fostered and died beneath the weight of that struggle. How long was it before your 'evolution' decided emotions were weakness? When was the last time you even thought about it?"

    Lan Jue pressed Monarch with one question after another, and the avatar's face slipped into an expression of contemplation. He did not interrupt Lan Jue, and instead seemed to consider his words.

    When Lan Jue was finished he nodded his head, ever so slightly. "I can see the reason in what you say. Perhaps earlier I would not have paid it any mind, but after obtaining the genetic material of your people I can accept it. However, we already stand at the precipice. All that can be done is to continue the path we've chosen. What you say is still within our grasp to achieve, if my species is but willing. When I come to govern this reality and your people are a part of me, perhaps I will learn of the emotions your species love so dearly and change them. That is the power granted the master, but to creatures such as yourself - with no power of your destiny - the words must have no significance."

    "Who says we have no control over our destiny?" Lan Jue retorted. "It is your species that invaded, we've done nothing but defend our homes. Your species is strong but you haven't won yet. We humans have a saying, 'those who are not my people cannot know my heart.' Do you think our two people will ever resolve these differences? You've already slaughtered millions of my brothers and sisters, and in doing so you've made yourselves into our greatest enemy. Either you will die, or I will."

    Monarch's eyes went from curious to cold. "If you will not accept this opportunity then you will be destroyed. But I will keep your genetic material - your quick progress intrigues me. Soon our evolution will be complete, and the planet you call Europa will be the foundation of our immortal realm. We will store your DNA there, or perhaps I will remake you and force your own evolution. Perhaps you will help me discover more secrets about what your species knew of those bygone realities."

    "Don't assume you've won," Lan Jue growled. "How do you know we aren't a match for you?"

    Monarch answered with cold certainty. "Law of conservation of energy... this is how you humans phrase it, yes? There is nothing you can do against a power like mine."

    Lan Jue slowly lifted Captus. "I'm not sure your power is so much greater than ours." A pale blue light sprang up around him, and reality shook as his power warred against the avatar's.
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