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395 Zed or Kiba - The Devilish Nature Remains The Same!

    Zed wasn't lying when he said the methods couldn't be employed by them to take Profound Energy Crystals. After all, their strength was very low, and if they still tried to use them, they would suffer a fate similar to those twenty or so contestants who just died.

    "We should leave," Sophia said with a smile.

    "Yes! We have to cross the trial zone to pass!" Jenina agreed while accepting the bitter reality of not getting a chance to acquire Profound Energy Crystals.

    "And if possible, we need to get our hands on those Life Source Shards!" Divya reminded.

    She glanced at her right wrist where she only had one colorful bead. She then swept a glance at Zed's wrist with envy.

    He has over a hundred beads!

    The difference between them was as vast as between earth and sky. There was no comparison.

    "Only if I can get Life Source Shards would I have a chance of acquiring reward beads... otherwise even if I cross the trial zone, I would only consider as passed but no rewards!" Divya muttered to herself.

    Zed absentmindedly listened to their discussion while eyeing cluster of spherical crystals forming Profound Energy Crystals. As he observed the yellow glow emitting from them, the soft glow shrouded his vision, flashing memories of BSE79.

    Those memories rolled like a reel of a movie and stopped on one scene:

    A spaceship so enormous that it could cover almost half the Earth. Despite its dimensions, it existed in the hidden space of a small meteorite known as BSE79.

    In one section of this spaceship, a golden-hair man stood, engulfed in a chaotic storm of golden energy. The very space around him buzzed and trembled. Under the terrifying energy fluctuations, his long golden hair whipped around him.

    He was naked above the torso, exposing a physique that could be only described as godly. Presently, his eyes were locked on his chest.

    From the center of his chest, root-like veins bulged out, radiating strands of power Cosmic that created the storm around him. Threads of blood filled his eyes as he observed those veins and an intense desire to carry out a genocide flooded his very soul.

    Terrifying energy coursed through his body and he felt, if he truly wished, just a flick of his hand could topple a city. He suppressed this feeling and looked at a distance where an octahedron crystal was lying, emitting a serene emerald glow.

    If an Alpha-rank mutant observed the octahedron crystal, he would notice the crystal was made of hundreds of spherical crystals with yellow surface similar to Profound Energy Crystals; compressed to a very small size. Perhaps due to their combination and fusion, or maybe due to some other reason, the fused octahedron glowed a translucent emerald glow. This glow snaked throughout the crystal in the form of circuit design; far more complex than a paradox.

    The golden-haired man lifted a finger, and simultaneously, the crystal flew through the energy storm, floating in front of him.

    He took the crystal in both hands and closed his eyes. As the ferocious energy storm swirled around him, a smile that emitted a sense of trustworthiness and belonging appeared on his face.

    "Everything will change... Claudia!"

    ✡✡✡

    In the present, Zed opened his eyes and looked at his hands as if to find something. When he recalled what he just experienced was a short flash of memory triggered by Profound Energy Crystals, he couldn't help but smile.

    "Everything has changed... Claudia!"

    Sophia was nearby him and heard him muttering something. She tried to make sense of his words but couldn't.

    As he felt her eyes, he said, "Yeah...let's leave."

    Sophia was curious but she nodded and they sped into a distance.

    An hour later.

    Zed was running through a field of crystal icicles when his eyes flickered. He turned to his right and others did the same as they felt something.

    Some four hundred meters away, beside a skeleton made of crystalline mass, there was a shard of crimson color.

    Life Source Shard.

    Zed and others appeared before the shard. Zed grabbed it between a finger and felt strong waves of vitality.

    "You are lucky!" Jenina remarked. She knew he was the first to notice and as such, it was his.

    Zed didn't respond and instead checked out the skeleton. It seemed to belong to a species similar to the one Kiba saw through his super vision after he entered the core region.

    Of course, the skeleton here wasn't corroded unlike the one he saw before which was corroded by that black liquid.

    "Life Source Shard."

    Zed focused on the shard in his hand while thinking about how it was formed. There was no doubt from its aura on what its properties were, but knowing its formation process was equally important.

    At the same time, Sophia moved further and let out a surprised gasp.

    "There is an habitant ahead!" Sophia said as she observed small domes in a distance. The domes were covered with mist, making it difficult to see properly.

    Zed stepped next to her, and they exchanged a glance with others before agreeing to continue. They covered a distance of around half a mile when they appeared before the habitant.

    "Maybe we can find more of those shards here!" Jenina said.

    "Yeah," Zed nodded.

    Suddenly, just as they took a step ahead, cracks snaked over the ground from which crystalline spike rose up.

    Thanks to his premonition ability, Zed noticed before they could create any harm. He released streams of fire from his palms and shot into the air.

    Sophia leaped high albeit after a crystal spike cut through a shoe, making her bleed. Jenina and others were not so lucky as spikes pierced through their feet and legs. They barely avoided fatal injuries by twisting their bodies.

    As Zed landed on the ground some distance away, a hen-like creature, made of cyan crystal body, rushed at him. It rose its hook-like claw up and swiped them at Zed's neck.

    Zed ducked to a side and retaliated with a circle of fire that crashed onto the hen-like creature. The circle of fire exploded but the hen-like creature sliced apart the flame explosion and charged at Zed.

    Its speed was fast, and as Zed readied to dodge a claw attack, it opened its beak and threw out a beam of crystalline light.

    Zed was caught off guard but he quickly crossed his arms in 'X' shape and releaded a wall of fire to block the attack. Alongside, he leaped back just as the beam of light slammed through the wall of fire, and rushed at him.

    The beam exploded out into crystalline shards and rained down on him. Zed has no time to avoid due to their speed and a few shards pierced his hand even as he blocked others with flame attacks.

    Blood splashed out and Zed looked at the hen-like creature with shock. Even though it used the surprise factor, its power was no less than a level III mutant.

    Swoosh~!

    A raging spiral column of flame hurtled out of his palm. The hen-like creature flapped its wings and swept into the air.

    "So it is not really a mutated hen but some alien lifeform," Zed thought as the column of flame changed its direction in mid-air.

    The hen-like creature opened its bead and let out multiple beams of light that crashed into the column of flame.

    Like icicles forming under freezing temperature, the column of flame crystallized and slammed downward, breaking into crystalline pieces.

    "Well, this was a bit unexpected!"

    Zed got no time to praise the hen-like being as it pounced at him from high above, shooting like a rocket. This time its speed was so fast that it left behind a blue streak of light.

    Zed raised a hand, wrapping it with a blazing orb of flame, and ready to slam onto the creature above.

    Just then, a shrill sound came from far away. As soon as the sound appeared, the hen-like creature stopped and twisted its body in mid-air to shoot towards the source of the voice.

    "?" Zed was startled by its behavior. He glanced at the side and noticed others were alive. Sophia was facing another creature but it too left along with hen-like creature after the shrilling sound appeared.

    A few minutes later, after giving Jenina and others a few medicines, they stepped further into the area.

    Zed looked around and was shocked to see the two attackers from before at some distance away. They were nervously standing in front of an egg that was breaking out.

    Sophia and others were shocked but for another reason. They saw a dozen Life Source Shards upon which the egg was hatching out.

    As Zed and others stepped in, more organisms appeared through the dome-like structures. Some of them resembled hen while others a mix of kangaroo and ostrich with strange features.

    Their eyes were filled with hostility as they gazed at Zed and others. Yet, they didn't take any action as if they lacked any energy, forcing the two hen-like creatures to rise up.

    As Zed looked around, he understood the situation. He sighed and forgive the hen-like creature. He realized it was eagerly waiting for the birth of a new offspring which was why it attacked them. Most likely, trials of this nature where contestants sought Life Source Shards have taken before though records of them were rare, if not non-existent.

    Knowing this, how could he fault a parent for carrying out its duty? Of course, he only forgave since the hen-like creature did it out of the protective nature of a parent without any murderous intent of own.

    "We have a nice opportunity!" Rita said with great happiness. "So many Life Source Shards!"

    Sophia, Jenina, and Divya nodded in acknowledgment. After thinking of their own trump cards, they were more than sure of stealing shards and escaping alive even if they couldn't defeat the creatures. Their confidence was further boosted by the current situation.

    A cracking sound ringed from the egg. The two hen-like creatures brought their focus back on the egg as cracks appeared on its surface.

    Threads of crystalline liquid seeped out along with two small claws.

    "Now is the time to attack!" Jenina charged straight.

    "Don't!" Zed swept a hand at her, releasing an arc of fire that crashed some distance in front of her. Jenina stopped and looked at him.

    "What's wrong?" Jenina asked while wondering if there was some danger here. Based on her understanding, he was truly knowledgeable of dangers so she wouldn't want to do anything that he wouldn't suggest.

    "We have no right to be here," Zed said as he glanced at the egg in the middle of hatching. "Much less endanger the lives of an entire habitat."

    The shards around it splashed out a crimson glow that entered the life inside the egg. It was like the shards were providing it with nourishment.

    "What?" Sophia and others looked at him as if he was stupid.

    Surely he couldn't be asking them to leave due to some compassion, right?! Those creatures were not humans but alien!

    And even if they were from Earth, it isn't like Sophia, Zed, and others were vegetarians or some pro-life people on a mission to not harm other species.

    "Zed, I respect your character but you are wrong this time," Jenina said before turning back to the egg. "The world follows the law of jungle... we also have, including you when you killed that group with hidden explosives. Besides, this trial's rewards is on those shards....so we can't back off."

    "You are completely right," Zed agreed since his alter ego didn't mind killing humans just because they annoyed him.

    He didn't even know how many lives he has taken regardless of species. Beasts, humans, aliens...he has killed without any reservation. Even as Zed, he has killed many regardless of their identity and role in the world. He hasn't cared if a person was a father, son, mother, or anything. That wasn't his nature to worry about.

    "But I would still stop you," Zed said, his demeanor changing. "The reason is simple... I have a soft spot for..."

    Waves of fire exploded around his body, covering him with flames like a god of fire. The sound of flame exploding covered his final word, making it difficult for others to comprehend.

    "You got to be kidding!" Jenina and others were shocked by his sudden change in demeanor. He was nothing like the person before.

    Even though the waves of fire around him were emitting blazing heat, there was a chillness in his voice.

    "Besides, the trial setting wants contestants to steal Life Source Shards from such habitats - knowing full well what it would mean for living beings which exist in this world," Zed's lips curved up as he thought of the setting. "Ever since I first became Kiba... when have I followed the rules and settings of others?"

    Even before he gained Cosmic Spark and was nothing more than a slum insect, he has tried to resist the workings of society in his limited ways. This could be seen from what he did during his expedition to BSE79 or even before that when he killed his caretaker.

    The truth was that he didn't really care much about the species of this habitat as much as he cared about not bowing down under the rules of others.

    After all, he was a man who has defied society with every moment of his existence!

    It wasn't just due to his deviant thoughts on sex and relationships but also due to his world view. He was the type of person who neither cared about the existence of World Government or the revolutionaries. All he cared about was him; all he followed was his heart - regardless if he was Kiba or Zed.

    And now, after appearing in the core region, he was forced to follow the rules of Royal Will of the World. This was something against his nature.

    What was the use of power if he can't do as he pleases? What's the use of his alter ego being Kiba if he has to rely on endangering a weak species for some petty rewards?

    He was a devil who did as his heart pleased regardless of how others perceived his actions!

    Zed or Kiba, that part remained the same!
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